Pavlov's view of the inheritance of acquired characteristics as it relates to theses concerning scientific change
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Synthese 88 (1):97 - 111 (1991)
Pavlov's position on the inheritance of acquired characteristics was used to test selected theses of Laudan et al. (1986) concerning scientific change. It was determined that, despite negative experimental findings, Pavlov continued to accept the possibility of the inheritance of acquired habits. This confirms the main thesis I that, once accepted, theories persist despite negative experimental evidence. Pavolv's adherence to the concept of inheritance of acquired characteristics might possibly be explained by his early experiences. Adolescent readings of a popularized version of Darwin's theory, which included the concept of inheritance of acquired characteristics, profoundly influenced Pavlov's subsequent intellectual life. Overwhelmed by the theory, as originally presented, Pavlov was unable to alter his views in light of contrary findings.
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