Organisms and other biological systems are self-regulating: they control many different dimensions of their own behaviour and internal states. The systems that organisms use to achieve self-regulation need to be responsive to their contexts yet to have potentially large effects on what the organism does. As a result, these systems have capacities that play a special role in evolution. One of these “biological levers,” once it has evolved, can be recruited to new uses within the same organism, or it can be manipulated to the advantage of another organism, resulting in exploitation or in mutually rewarding cooperation. Interactions among biological levers within organisms or in different organisms produce complex feedback processes that play a distinctive role in the evolution of complex organization.

This research project will investigate the evolutionary patterns produced by the interaction of biological levers and show how such interaction is involved in many evolutionary processes, including the evolution of multicellularity, of complex developmental systems, and of aspects of social complexity such as altruistic behaviour, signalling, and the regulation of mating behaviour and aggression. The project will help us to understand the evolution of social coordination, including human language and moral systems, and will help us rethink common assumptions about adaptation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gillian Barker (PI, Western University)
Robert Batterman (CI, University of Pittsburgh)
O’Neal Buchanan (Graduate student, Western University)
Michael Doan  (Graduate student, Dalousie)
John Odling-Smee (CI, Emeritus Research Fellow, Manfield College, University of Oxford)
Valerie Racine (Graduate student, Western University)
Kyle Stanford (CI, University of California at Irvine)
William Wimsatt (CI, University of Chicago).

Gillian Barker Western University

Barker, G.A. Beyond Biofatalism: Human Nature for an Evolving World. Columbia University Press (Forthcoming September 25, 2015).

Biological Levers and Extended Adaptationism, Biology & Philosophy, Volume 23, No. 1. 1-25.

Evolution, Ecology and Human Possibilities (Faculty Keynote Address, Diotima Graduate Conference, The University of Western Ontario, September 2010)

Evolution, Gender and Human Possibilities: Lessons from Ecology and Development (Philosophy Department Colloquium Series, Wilfrid Laurier University)

Altruism and Biological Leverage (ISHPSSB Conference, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, July 2011)

O’Neal Buchanan Western University

That Magic Moment: An Evolved Learning Mechanism for the Constructed Niche (Integrating Complexity: Environment and History, The University of Western Ontario, October 2010)

Embodied Emotions and Biological Leverage (ISHPSSB Conference, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, July 2011)

Michael D. Doan Dalhousie University

Behavioral Interaction and the Emotions: Is ‘Narrow’ Evolutionary Psychology Enough? (Integrating Complexity: Environment and History, The University of Western Ontario, October 2010)

Behavioral Transactions and Biological Leverage (ISHPSSB Conference, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, July 2011)