William C. Wimsatt

William C. Wimsatt is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago. He was awarded the 2013 David L. Hull Prize by the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology.

  • Developing Scaffolds in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition

    Developing Scaffolds in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition

    Linnda R. Caporael, James R. Griesemer, and William C. Wimsatt

    Empirical and philosophical perspectives on scaffolding that highlight the role of temporal and temporary resources in development across concepts of culture, cognition, and evolution.

    "Scaffolding" is a concept that is becoming widely used across disciplines. This book investigates common threads in diverse applications of scaffolding, including theoretical biology, cognitive science, social theory, science and technology studies, and human development. Despite its widespread use, the concept of scaffolding is often given short shrift; the contributors to this volume, from a range of disciplines, offer a more fully developed analysis of scaffolding that highlights the role of temporal and temporary resources in development, broadly conceived, across concepts of culture, cognition, and evolution.

    The book emphasizes reproduction, repeated assembly, and entrenchment of heterogeneous relations, parts, and processes as a complement to neo-Darwinism in the developmentalist tradition of conceptualizing evolutionary change. After describing an integration of theoretical perspectives that can accommodate different levels of analysis and connect various methodologies, the book discusses multilevel organization; differences (and reciprocality) between individuals and institutions as units of analysis; and perspectives on development that span brains, careers, corporations, and cultural cycles.

    Contributors Colin Allen, Linnda R. Caporael, James Evans, Elihu M. Gerson, Simona Ginsburg, James R. Griesemer, Christophe Heintz, Eva Jablonka, Sanjay Joshi, Shu-Chen Li, Pamela Lyon, Sergio F. Martinez, Christopher J. May, Johann Peter Murmann, Stuart A. Newman, Jeffrey C. Schank, Iddo Tavory, Georg Theiner, Barbara Hoeberg Wimsatt, William C. Wimsatt


  • From Embryology to Evo-Devo

    From Embryology to Evo-Devo

    A History of Developmental Evolution

    Manfred D. Laubichler and Jane Maienschein

    Historians, philosophers, sociologists, and biologists explore the history of the idea that embryological development and evolution are linked.

    Although we now know that ontogeny (individual development) does not actually recapitulate phylogeny (evolutionary transformation), contrary to Ernst Haeckel's famous dictum, the relationship between embryological development and evolution remains the subject of intense scientific interest. In the 1990s a new field, evolutionary developmental biology (or evo-devo), was hailed as the synthesis of developmental and evolutionary biology. In From Embryology to Evo-Devo, historians, philosophers, sociologists, and biologists offer diverse perspectives on the history of efforts to understand the links between development and evolution. After examining events in the history of early twentieth century embryology and developmental genetics—including the fate of Haeckel's law and its various reformulations, the ideas of William Bateson, and Richard Goldschmidt's idiosyncratic synthesis of ontogeny and phylogeny—the contributors explore additional topics ranging from the history of comparative embryology in America to a philosophical-historical analysis of different research styles. Finally, three major figures in theoretical biology—Brian Hall, Gerd Müller, and Günter Wagner—reflect on the past and future of evo-devo, particularly on the interdisciplinary nature of the field. The sum is an exciting interdisciplinary exploration of developmental evolution.

    • Hardcover $57.00 £42.95
    • Paperback $35.00 £27.00