Evolution and Learning

The Baldwin Effect Reconsidered

The role of genetic inheritance dominates current evolutionary theory. At the end of the nineteenth century, however, several evolutionary theorists independently speculated that learned behaviors could also affect the direction and rate of evolutionary change. This notion was called the Baldwin effect, after the psychologist James Mark Baldwin. In recent years, philosophers and theorists of a variety of ontological and epistemological backgrounds have begun to employ the Baldwin effect in their accounts of the evolutionary emergence of mind and of how mind, through behavior, might affect evolution.

The essays in this book discuss the originally proposed Baldwin effect, how it was modified over time, and its possible contribution to contemporary empirical and theoretical evolutionary studies. The topics include the effect of the modern evolutionary synthesis on the notion of the Baldwin effect, the nature and role of niche construction in contemporary evolutionary theory, the Baldwin effect in the context of developmental systems theory, the possible role of the Baldwin effect in computational cognitive science biosemiotics, and the emergence of consciousness and language.

Table of Contents

  1. Contents
  2. Contributors
  3. Preface
  4. I. Baldwin Boosters, Baldwin Skeptics
  5. 1. Baldwin and His Many Effects

    David J. Depew

  6. 2. Baldwin Effects and the Expansion of the Explanatory Repertoire in Evolutionary Biology

    Stephen M. Downes

  7. 3. Between Baldwin Skepticism and Baldwin Boosterism

    Peter Godfrey-Smith

  8. 4. The Baldwin Effect: A Crane, Not a Skyhook

    Daniel Dennett

  9. 5. Multilevel Selection in a Complex Adaptive System: The Problem of Language Origins

    Terrence W. Deacon

  10. 6. Post-Script on the Baldwin Effect and Niche Construction

    Peter Godfrey-Smith, Daniel Dennett, and Terrence W. Deacon

  11. II. Baldwinism and Development
  12. 7. Evolution, Development, and the Individual Acquisition of Traits: What We've Learned since Baldwin

    Celia L. Moore

  13. 8. Baldwin and Beyond: Organic Selection and Genetic Assimilation

    Brian K. Hall

  14. 9. On Having a Hammer

    Susan Oyama

  15. 10. Beyond the Baldwin Effect: James Mark Baldwin's "Social Heredity," Epigenetic Inheritance, and Niche Construction

    Paul E. Griffiths

  16. III. Beyond Baldwinism
  17. 11. The Baldwin Effect in the Age of Computation

    Ruben R. Puentedura

  18. 12. The Role of Predator-Induced Polyphenism in the Evolution of Cognition: A Baldwinian Speculation

    Scott F. Gilbert

  19. 13. Baldwin and Biosemiotics: What Intelligence Is For

    Jesper Hoffmeyer and Kalevi Kull

  20. 14. The Hierarchic Logic of Emergence: Untangling the Interdependence of Evolution and Self-Organization

    Terrence W. Deacon

  21. 15. Emergence of Mind and the Baldwin Effect

    Bruce H. Weber

  22. Index