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Darwin-L Message Log 1:251 (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.


<1:251>From TREMONT%UCSFVM.BITNET@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU  Wed Sep 29 06:46:25 1993

Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1993 04:35:24 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Elihu M. Gerson" <TREMONT%UCSFVM.BITNET@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU>
Subject: Re: Comments on Gerson
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

I agree with Ron Amundson's list of objections to using Darwinian theory to
explain cultural phenomena. I really have to object to his version of
what I said about historical reposnses to Darwin.

I never said (as far as I know, *nobody* ever said) that the natural
selection model became interesting only after Mendelian mechanisms
became known. I said (a) that the natural selection model was not widely
accepted by biologists before the 20th century.  This is standard
history-- nobody I know of, including Ruse, disagrees with it.  I also
said (b) that part of the reason for increasing acceptance in the 20th
century was the development of at least some material causes for heritable
variation-- specificaly, knowledge of the role of chromosomes. Certainly,
this is not the whole story of the success of the natural selection model
in the 20th century, but it is part of it.

My point in making that argument was that explanations which do not
include material and efficient causes aren't very satisfactory.
I could have as easily pointed to the history of the "drifting continents"
debate as an example.

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