The Nature of Evolutionary Biology: At the Borderlands Between Historical and Experimental Science

In Kostas Kampourakis (ed.), The Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators. Springer (2013)

Authors
Massimo Pigliucci
CUNY Graduate Center
Abstract
The scientific status of evolutionary theory seems to be more or less perennially under question. I am not referring here (just) to the silliness of young Earth creation- ism (Pigliucci 2002; Boudry and Braeckman 2010), or even of the barely more intel- lectually sophisticated so-called Intelligent Design theory (Recker 2010; Brigandt this volume), but rather to discussions among scientists and philosophers of science concerning the epistemic status of evolutionary theory (Sober 2010). As we shall see in what follows, this debate has a long history, dating all the way back to Darwin, and it is in great part rooted in the fundamental dichotomy between what French biologist and Nobel laureate Jacques Monod (1971) called chance and necessity—i.e., the inevitable and inextricable interplay of deterministic and stochastic mechanisms operating during the course of evolution.
Keywords evolutionary biology  experimental science  historical science
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