Long-term morphological stasis is an important pattern in macroevolution. According to one strand of thinking in evolutionary biology, stabilizing selection is the whole story about stasis. Following philosophers such as Kim Sterelny and Jonathan Kaplan, I argue that this extrapolationist approach is misguided. Other potential explanations of stasis invoke population structure, extinction selectivity, habitat tracking, and developmental constraints. I’ll argue that the challenge of explaining stasis is best understood as a problem of model integration, and that stasis might not be a unitary phenomenon. The same pattern could be generated by different processes in different cases.
Derek Turner holds a PhD in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University, Nashville. He is a Professor of Philosophy at Connecticut College and the Associate Director of the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment of Connecticut College. Previously, Derek had fellowships at Goettingen and Pittsburgh, and he taught a summer school course on evolution in Lisbon in 2013.