Darwin-L Message Log 5:75 (January 1994)

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.

<5:75>From john.wilkins1@udev.monash.edu.au  Fri Jan 14 01:31:31 1994

Date: Fri, 14 Jan 1994 18:32:59 +1000
From: John Wilkins <john.wilkins1@udev.monash.edu.au>
Subject: On neoDarwinism 2
To: Darwin-L <darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu>

On neoDarwinism 2
Thanks to Bob O'Hara, Ron Amundson and Dave Rindos for their responses.

I was perhaps a bit restrictive in using the term "neoDarwinism". I meant to
refer to that amorphous gathering of relative orthodoxies in currency today
rather than the synthesis c. 1945 or earlier. I was indoctrinated to the view
"selection ueber alles" and find it uncomfortable when someone makes the
claim that, as I recall Brooks and Wiley to say (book not to hand), selection
is less important than other forces/states/processes in determining
evolutionary change. I can accommodate Punk Eek into my limited worldview,
since it's effectively a refinement, as Bob said, on neoDarwinian mechanisms
(founder theory and all that), but B∧W seem to relegate selection to a
particularly minor role. Not only do they seem to claim that variation and
selection trajectories are constrained, but that the state spaces force
directional (nay, progressive) trajectories on evolution. Selection seems
merely to knock out the extreme failures.

I'm not au fait with the 19thC orthogeneticists, but what I have read, eg, in
Hull's treatment of the period (_Darwin and his critics_ U Chicago P, 1973)
seems to suggest a close parallel. I'd be interested to hear what the
distinction is. I'd die for that annoted bibliography, too 8-)

In the end, perhaps I'm one of those Dave referred to, corrupted by an
ancient dispute whose time is now past.

BTW: this arises in the context of wanting to support a "Darwinian" model of
theory change in science, the gospel according to Hull (_Science as a
process_ U Chicago P 1988) for my MA. To do that, I need to know what bounds
a Darwinian theory has. It seems to my non-biologist's eye that selection is
a pretty fundamental mechanism in evolutionary theory, despite all the
qualifications and glosses. I'd be interested (by direct email if that's more
appropriate) in anyone's views on that, too.


John Wilkins - Manager, Publishing
Monash University, Melbourne Australia
Postal Address: Wellington Road, Clayton 3168 AUSTRALIA
Internet: john.wilkins@udev.monash.edu.au
Tel: (+613) 565 6009  Fax: (+613) 565 6029

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