David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 37 (1):26-40 (2006)
Darwin used artificial selection extensively and variedly in his theorizing. Darwin used ASN as an analogy to natural selection; he compared artificial to natural varieties, hereditary variation in nature to that in the breeding farm; and he also compared the overall effectiveness of the two processes. Most historians and philosophers of biology have argued that ASN worked as an analogical field in Darwin’s theorizing. I will argue rather that this provides a limited and somewhat muddled view of Darwinian science. I say “limited” because I will show that Darwin also used ASN as a complex experimental field. And I say “muddled” because, if we concentrate on the analogical role exclusively, we conceive Darwinian science as rather disconnected from contemporary conceptions of “good science”.I will argue that ASN should be conceived as a multifaceted experiment. As a traditional experiment, ASN established the efficacy of Darwin’s preferred cause: natural selection. As a non-traditional experiment, ASN disclosed the nature of a crucial element in Darwin’s evolutionary mechanics: the nature of hereditary variation. Finally, I will argue that the experiment conception should help us make sense of Darwin’s comments regarding the “monstrous” nature of domestic breeds_traditionally considered to be problematic
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