1. The ZFEL
  2. Goal Directedness, Purpose, & Passion
  3. Complexity
  4. Hierarchy & the Major Transitions
  5. Evolutionary Progress

1) The ZFEL (Zero-Force Evolutionary Law, Biology’s First Law)

McShea, D.W., S.C. Wang, and R.N. Brandon. 2019. A quantitative formulation of biology’s first law. Evolution. 73(6): 1101-1115, DOI: 10.1111/evo.13735. Quantitative formulation

Fleming, L. and D.W. McShea. 2013. Drosophila mutants suggest a strong drive toward complexity in evolution. Evolution and Development 15:53-62. Drosophila complexity

McShea, D.W. and W. Hordijk. 2013. Complexity by subtraction. Evolutionary Biology 40:504-520. Complexity by subtractionPhoto-ZFELcover

McShea, D.W. and R.N. Brandon. 2010. Biology’s First Law, University of Chicago Press.

McShea, D.W. 2005. The evolution of complexity without natural selection, a possible large-scale trend of the fourth kind. Paleobiology (Supplement) 31:146-156. Trends of the fourth kind-ZFEL

2) Goal Directedness, Purpose, & Passion

McShea, D.W. 2017. Logic, passion, and the problem of convergence. Journal of the Royal Society Interface Focus 7: 20160122. Logic, Passion

McShea, D.W. 2016.  Hierarchy: The source of teleology in evolution. In: Evolutionary Theory: A Hierarchical Perspective, N. Eldredge et al., eds., pp. 86-102. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. Hierarchy and teleology

McShea, D.W. 2016. Freedom and purpose in biology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 58:64-72. Freedom and purpose

McShea, D.W. 2013. Machine wanting. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44:679-687. Machine wanting

McShea, D.W. 2012. Upper-directed systems: A new approach to teleology in biology. Biology and Philosophy 27:663-684. Teleology

McShea, D.W. 1999. Feelings as the proximate cause of behavior. In: Where Psychology Meets Biology: Philosophical Essays, V.G. Hardcastle, ed., pp. 181-200. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Feelings as proximate cause

McShea, R.J. and D.W. McShea. 1999. Biology and value theory. In: Biology and the Foundations of Ethics, J. Maienschein & M. Ruse, eds., pp. 307-327. Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press. Biology & value theory

3) Complexity

McShea, D.W. 2002. A complexity drain on cells in the evolution of multicellularity. Evolution 56:441-452. Complexity drain

McShea, D.W. and E.P. Venit. 2001. What is a part? In: The Character Concept in Evolutionary Biology. G.P. Wagner, ed., pp. 259-284. San Diego: Academic Press. What is a part?

McShea, D.W. 2000. Functional complexity in organisms: parts as proxies. Biology and Philosophy 15:641-668. Parts as proxies

McShea, D.W. 1996. Metazoan complexity and evolution: Is there a trend? Evolution 50:477-492. Metazoan complexity

McShea, D.W. 1994. Mechanisms of large-scale evolutionary trends. Evolution 48:1747-1763. Mechanisms

McShea, D.W. 1993. Evolutionary change in the morphological complexity of the mammalian vertebral column. Evolution 47:730-740. Vertebral column

McShea, D.W. 1992. A metric for the study of evolutionary trends in the complexity of serial structures. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 45:39 55. Metric

McShea, D.W. 1991. Complexity and evolution: what everybody knows. Biology and Philosophy 6:303 324. What everybody knows

4) Hierarchy & the Major Transitions

McShea, D.W. and C.G. Simpson. 2011. The miscellaneous transitions in evolution. In: The Major Transitions in Evolution Revisited, B. Calcott and K. Sterelny, eds., pp. 19-33. Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. MiscellaneousTransitions

Marcot, J. and D.W. McShea. 2007. Increasing hierarchical complexity throughout the history of life: phylogenetic tests of trend mechanisms. Paleobiology 33:182-200. Hierarchy trend mechanism

McShea, D.W. and M.A. Changizi. 2003. Three puzzles in hierarchical evolution. Integrative and Comparative Biology 43:74-81. Three puzzles

McShea, D.W. and E.P. Venit. 2002. Testing for bias in the evolution of coloniality: A demonstration in cyclostome bryozoans. Paleobiology 28:308-327. Testing for coloniality bias

McShea, D.W. 2001. The hierarchical structure of organisms: a scale and documentation of a trend in the maximum. Paleobiology 27:405-423. Hierarchical structure

Anderson, C., and D.W. McShea. 2001. Individual versus social complexity, with particular reference to ant colonies. Biological Reviews (of the Cambridge Philosophical Society) 76: 211 237. Individual vs. social complexity

McShea, D.W. 2001. The “minor transitions” in hierarchical evolution and the question of directional bias. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 14:502-518. Minor transitions

5) Evolutionary Progress

Rosenberg, A. and D.W. McShea. 2007. Photo-PhilBio coverChapter 5, Evolutionary Progress, from: The Philosophy of Biology: A Contemporary Introduction, Routledge. Excerpt: Evolutionary Progress



McShea, D.W. 2011. Evolutionary progress. In: Evolution: The First Four Billion Years, M. Ruse and J. Travis, eds., pp. 550-557, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. Progress


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