Darwinians at war Bateson's place in histories of Darwinism

Synthese 91 (1-2):53 - 72 (1992)
The controversy between Biometricians and Mendelians has been called an inexplicable embarrassment since it revolved around the mistaken identification of Mendelian genetics with non-Darwinian saltationism, a mistake traced back to the non-Darwinian William Bateson, who introduced Mendelian analysis to British science. The following paper beings to unravel this standard account of the controversy by raising a simple question: Given that Bateson embraced evolution by natural selection and that he studied the causes of variation within a broadly Darwinian framework of problems and questions, how are we to understand the claim that he was a non-Darwinian? A brief survey of possible responses to this question is followed by an alternative proposal: the controversy will be considered as a struggle among Darwinians about the future course of Darwinism. On this account, Darwin's own work led to the juncture at which Mendelians and Biometricians parted company, indeed, the Origin itself prepared the divergent methodological stances subsequently adopted by Bateson and his antagonists. The inexplicable embarrassment is dissolved through the parsimonious reconstruction of the profound substantive conflict between Biometricians and Mendelians as a chapter in the articulation and differentiation of the Darwinian research programme.
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DOI 10.1007/BF00484969
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