Darwin, Teleology and Taxonomy

Philosophy 48 (183):35 - 49 (1973)
Darwinism is ‘much more than a theory’, said the German botanist Albert Wigand in 1875; ‘it is a frame of mind which dominates thought, a resuscitated “Naturphilosophie”, in which the terms “Polarity”, “Totality”, “Subject”, “Object” are replaced by terms such as “Struggle for Existence”, “Inheritance”, “Selection”, and so on.’ Subsequent events have indicated that Wigand had a point. But it is not clear to us yet what exactly the point is. Interest in Man's Place in Nature, and in his alleged biological uniqueness as a language-user and tool-maker, is as great now as it was in 1871 when Darwin's Descent of Man was first published. We now have access to well over a hundred years' worth of material sparked off by The Origin of Species , linking Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection to almost every field under the sun. Yet the precise status of his theory is still the subject of vigorous controversy in philosophy of science
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