Darwin-L Message Log 1:218 (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.

<1:218>From TREMONT%UCSFVM.BITNET@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU  Mon Sep 27 08:33:55 1993

Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1993 06:19:51 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Heritability and cultural evolution
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

My apologies for the interrupted message-- I pressed the wrong button.

I was saying, that we had a good model of speciation based on Darwin's
theory in 1904, except that it made no reference to heredity. And *for
that reason* many biologists concerned with speciation were dissatisfied.
So the fact that a reconciliation between the two camps had to wait
upon the provision of material causes (in the form of adequate cytogenetics,
population genetics, knowledge of isolating mechanisms, etc) only supports
my point that models without material and efficient causes tend not to
be successful. Also, they're not very satisfying.

So, once again: it's not effective to draw analogies between biological
and cultural evolution, unless and until we can specify wherein they
are different in a material and efficient sense. This isn't a point about
the particulars of either biological evolution or the history of
evolutionary biology; it's a methodological point about drawing analogies.

Elihu M. Gerson
Tremont Research Institute
458 29 Street
San Francisco, CA 94131
415-285-7837  tremont@ucsfvm.ucsf.edu

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