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  1. Stephen G. Alter (2008). “Curiously Parallel”: Analogies of Language and Race in Darwin's Descent of Man. A Reply to Gregory Radick. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 39 (3):355-358.
    In the second chapter of The descent of man , Charles Darwin interrupted his discussion of the evolutionary origins of language to describe ten ways in which the formation of languages and of biological species were ‘curiously’ similar. I argue that these comparisons served mainly as analogies in which linguistic processes stood for aspects of biological evolution. Darwin used these analogies to recapitulate themes from On the origin of species , including common descent, genealogical classification, the struggle for existence, and (...)
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  2. Stephen G. Alter (2008). Darwin and the Linguists: The Coevolution of Mind and Language, Part 2. The Language–Thought Relationship. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 39 (1):38-50.
    This paper examines Charles Darwin’s idea that language-use and humanity’s unique cognitive abilities reinforced each other’s evolutionary emergence—an idea Darwin sketched in his early notebooks, set forth in his Descent of man , and qualified in Descent’s second edition. Darwin understood this coevolution process in essentially Lockean terms, based on John Locke’s hints about the way language shapes thinking itself. Ironically, the linguist Friedrich Max Müller attacked Darwin’s human descent theory by invoking a similar thesis, the German romantic notion of (...)
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  3. Stephen G. Alter (2008). Mandeville's Ship: Theistic Design and Philosophical History in Charles Darwin's Vision of Natural Selection. Journal of the History of Ideas 69 (3):441-465.
  4. Stephen G. Alter (2007). Separated at Birth: The Interlinked Origins of Darwin's Unconscious Selection Concept and the Application of Sexual Selection to Race. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 40 (2):231 - 258.
    This essay traces the interlinked origins of two concepts found in Charles Darwin's writings: "unconscious selection," and sexual selection as applied to humanity's anatomical race distinctions. Unconscious selection constituted a significant elaboration of Darwin's artificial selection analogy. As originally conceived in his theoretical notebooks, that analogy had focused exclusively on what Darwin later would call "methodical selection," the calculated production of desired changes in domestic breeds. By contrast, unconscious selection produced its results unintentionally and at a much slower pace. Inspiration (...)
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  5. Stephen G. Alter (2007). The Advantages of Obscurity: Charles Darwin's Negative Inference From the Histories of Domestic Breeds. Annals of Science 64 (2):235-250.
    Summary In The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin famously accounted for the lack of fossil evidence in support of species evolution on the grounds that the fossil record is naturally incomplete. This essay examines a similar argument that Darwin applied to his analogy between natural and artificial selection: the scarcity of data about the historical backgrounds of domestic breeds was the natural by-product of an extremely gradual change process. The point was to enhance the ability of the artificial selection analogy (...)
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  6. Stephen G. Alter (2007). Darwin and the Linguists: The Coevolution of Mind and Language, Part 1. Problematic Friends. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 38 (3):573-584.
    In his book The descent of man , Charles Darwin paid tribute to a trio of writers who offered naturalistic explanations of the origin of language. Darwin’s concurrence with these figures was limited, however, because each of them denied some aspect of his thesis that the evolution of language had been coeval with and essential to the emergence of humanity’s characteristic mental traits. Darwin first sketched out this thesis in his theoretical notebooks of the 1830s and then clarified his position (...)
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