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Darwin-L Message Log 5:202 (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.


<5:202>From rbrandon@acpub.duke.edu  Fri Jan 28 14:21:31 1994

Date: Fri, 28 Jan 1994 15:29:23 -0500
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: rbrandon@acpub.duke.edu (Robert Brandon)
Subject: what evolution is

First a brief introduction.  I am a philosopher of biology at Duke.
My interests span most of population biology.  Creighton asks when the
identification of evolution with change in gene pool took place, and what,
if anything, it had to do with the hegemony of molecular biology/genetics.
I've written on this ('Evolution' Phil. Sci. 45(1978), pp. 96-109).  The
earliest reference I found making this identification was Dobzhansky in 1937
(Genetics and the Origin of the Species).  Thus the definition in question
comes out of, and is still current in, population genetics.  It is entirely
independent of molecular genetics.  My 1978 article attempts to give a genetic
definition of evolution that is more satisfactory than change in gene
frequency.  Nowadays I would prefer something like the following:  evolution is
any change in the distribution of heritable characters over generational time.

                                                                Cheers,
                                                                Robert Brandon

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