The aim of this paper is to assess the relevance of somatic evolution by natural selection to our understanding of cancer development. I do so in two steps. In the first part of the paper, I ask to what extent cancer cells meet the formal requirements for evolution by natural selection, relying on Godfrey-Smith’s (2009) framework of Darwinian populations. I argue that although they meet the minimal requirements for natural selection, cancer cells are not paradigmatic Darwinian populations. In the second part of the paper, I examine the most important examples of adaptation in cancer cells. I argue that they are not significant accumulations of evolutionary changes, and that as a consequence natural selection plays a lesser role in their explanation. Their explanation, I argue, is best sought in the previously existing wiring of the healthy cells.

Cancer cells and adaptive explanations / P. Germain. - In: BIOLOGY & PHILOSOPHY. - ISSN 0169-3867. - 27:6(2012 Nov), pp. 785-810. [10.1007/s10539-012-9334-2]

Cancer cells and adaptive explanations

P. Germain
Primo
2012

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to assess the relevance of somatic evolution by natural selection to our understanding of cancer development. I do so in two steps. In the first part of the paper, I ask to what extent cancer cells meet the formal requirements for evolution by natural selection, relying on Godfrey-Smith’s (2009) framework of Darwinian populations. I argue that although they meet the minimal requirements for natural selection, cancer cells are not paradigmatic Darwinian populations. In the second part of the paper, I examine the most important examples of adaptation in cancer cells. I argue that they are not significant accumulations of evolutionary changes, and that as a consequence natural selection plays a lesser role in their explanation. Their explanation, I argue, is best sought in the previously existing wiring of the healthy cells.
Adaptation; Cancer; Darwinian populations; Explanation; Natural selection
Settore M-FIL/02 - Logica e Filosofia della Scienza
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/209065
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