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Reproduction in Complex Life Cycles: Toward a Developmental Reaction Norms Perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


Biological reproduction is a material process of intertwined, recursive propagule generation and development, assuming that development produces simple life cycles. Most organisms, however, have more or less complex life cycles. Here, I attempt to reconcile recent articulations of a reproducer account with traditional approaches to complex life cycles by generalizing genetic demarcation criteria for life cycle generations in terms of the “scaffolded” development of hybrid reproducers. I argue that scaffolding provides a general method for identifying developmental bottlenecks and suggests in turn a new way of understanding developmental reaction norms.

Complex Life Cycles and Reproduction
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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Thanks to Maureen O’Malley for organizing the symposium, co-symposiasts Peter Godfrey-Smith and Matt Herron, commentator and chair Thomas Pradeu, and the audience in Chicago. Thanks also to Roberta Millstein, Jun Otsuka, Mark Fedyk, Thomas Pradeu, Gerd Müller, Alessandro Minelli, and especially Linnda Caporael for helpful discussion. An anonymous reviewer provided valuable comments on the manuscript. I am grateful for the financial support of the Dean of Social Sciences, University of California, Davis, and the people of California.


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