What is inherency? What are the potential flaws with our understanding of biological function?
On this episode, we talk with Stuart Newman, professor at New York Medical College. In his recent paper, “Inherency and agency in the origin and evolution of biological functions,” Stuart argues against the commonly held view that functions of traits necessarily arise from the process of natural selection. He instead advocates for an alternative called inherency, which suggests that groups of cells naturally possess traits that determine their potential morphology, which can then be modified further by natural selection. He supports this idea with examples of extant species - placozoans and sponges - that closely resemble the earliest animals. We discuss Stuart’s provocative paper, the concept of inherency, and its potential role in evolution.