Darwin-L Message Log 1:82 (September 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<1:82>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Thu Sep  9 13:07:27 1993

Date: Thu, 09 Sep 1993 14:05:52 -0400 (EDT)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: A bibliography on "progress", "order", etc.?
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

I wonder if some of the people who have been discussing the topics of "order"
and "progress" might be willing to collaborate and put together an annotated
bibliography on these topics for the use of the group as a whole.  Someone
could volunteer to receive suggested references from the group, and maybe two
or three people could connect via regular e-mail to assemble the
bibliography. The literature on both of these topics is truly vast, and there
are many aspects to it: "progress" as a notion in evolution, in civil
history, in language change; "order" as a philosophical and physical notion;
the current attention given to "complexity" and "chaos" etc.; and especially
how these various topics relate to our own interests in the sciences of
historical reconstruction.  This thicket is so dark and deep that we might
profit from some bibliographic maps before venturing too far into it.

As a start, here are some entries that have crossed my desk lately:

Nitecki, Matthew, ed.  1988.  Evolutionary Progress.  Univ. Chicago Press.
  [A volume of papers on different aspects of "progress" in evolution.]

Lass, Roger.  1980.  On Explaining Language Change.  Cambridge Univ. Press.

Aitchison, Jean.  1991.  Language Change: Progress or Decay?  Cambridge Univ.

George Gale kindly contributed these two a couple days ago:

"An extremely useful account of change vs. evolution vs. progress, and all
the other synonyms, is to be found in "The Concept of Biological Progress",
by Francisco Ayala, in _Studies in the Philosophy of Biology_, Ayala and
Dobzhansky, U.C. press.  An even more general discussion, perhaps more useful
because of it, is William Dray, _Philosophy of History_, Prentice-Hall, Ch.

I would also offer for such a bibliography a paper of my own in which I argue
that the notion of evolutionary progress is an artifact of our (human)
psychology and how it perceives biological diversity:

O'Hara, Robert J.  1992.  Telling the tree: narrative representation and the
study of evolutionary history.  Biology and Philosophy, 7:135-160.

Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner

Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)
Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology
100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A.

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