What’s wrong with the modern evolutionary synthesis? A critical reply to Welch

Biology and Philosophy 33 (3-4):23 (2018)
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Welch :263–279, 2017) has recently proposed two possible explanations for why the field of evolutionary biology is plagued by a steady stream of claims that it needs urgent reform. It is either seriously deficient and incapable of incorporating ideas that are new, relevant and plausible or it is not seriously deficient at all but is prone to attracting discontent and to the championing of ideas that are not very relevant, plausible and/or not really new. He argues for the second explanation. This paper presents a twofold critique of his analysis: firstly, the main calls for reform do not concern the field of evolutionary biology in general but rather, or more specifically, the modern evolutionary synthesis. Secondly, and most importantly, these calls are not only inspired by the factors, enumerated by Welch, but are also, and even primarily, motivated by four problematic characteristics of the modern synthesis. This point is illustrated through a short analysis of the latest reform challenge to the modern synthesis, the so-called extended evolutionary synthesis. We conclude with the suggestion that the modern synthesis should be amended, rather than replaced.



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Author Profiles

Johan Braeckman
University of Ghent
Stefaan Blancke
University of Ghent

References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ian Hacking.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas Samuel Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Otto Neurath.
The origin of species.Charles Darwin - 1859 - New York: Norton. Edited by Philip Appleman.
Animal Species and Evolution.Ernst Mayr - 1963 - Belknap of Harvard University Press.

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