The Mastodon in the room: how Darwinian is neo-Darwinism?

Failing to acknowledge substantial differences between Darwinism and neo-Darwinism impedes evolutionary biology. Darwin described evolution as the outcome of interactions between the nature of the organism and the nature of the conditions, each relatively autonomous but both historically and spatially intertwined. Furthermore, he postulated that the nature of the organism was more important than the nature of the conditions, leading to natural selection as an inevitable emergent product of biological systems. The neo-Darwinian tradition assumed a creative rather than selective view of natural selection, with the nature of the organism determined by the nature of the conditions, rendering the nature of the organism and temporal contingency unnecessary. Contemporary advances in biology, specifically the phylogenetics revolution and evo-devo, underscore the significance of history and the nature of the organism in biology. Darwinism explains more biology better, and better resolves apparent anomalies between living systems and more general natural laws, than does neo-Darwinism. The “extended” or “expanded” synthesis currently called for by neo-Darwinians is Darwinism
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2010.11.003
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