This seminar will focus on the relation between natural selection and adaptation in organisms, and the practical and philosophical problems that arise in considering this relationship. We will discuss the mechanisms of natural selection and the processes giving rise to adaptations in organisms, the units and levels of selection, and the means by which we can determine when the features of an organism are an adaptation. We also will explore topics such as the tension between adaptation and constraint in evolutionary biology, the varied uses and missuses of the concepts in fields ranging from conservation biology to medicine, and the ethical implications of evolutionary ideas.
Students will read extensively, participate in and lead discussions and write 2-3 brief essays.
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