Monday, 1 October 2012

What discipline is evolutionary theory part of?

Once upon a time, evolution was considered to be part of biology. People called themselves "evolutionary biologists" - and even defined life in terms of evolution. For example, J. Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary - in "The Origins of Life", p.3 wrote:

What is life? [...]

An alternative is to define as living any population of entities posessing those properties that are needed if the population is to evolve by natural selection.

However, we can now see that this is wrong. Evolution applies to non-living systems, such as cracks, raindrops, erosion, and turbulence. Living systems involve accumulative evolution. However there's also degenerative evolution, which applies to both life and non-life. So: is evolution part of physics?

No. Evolutionary theory applies in a wide range of universes. It is largely independent of the details of physical law. This makes evolution part of systems theory - or alternatively part of statistics.

No comments:

Post a Comment