One central tenet of the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis , and the consensus view among biologists until now, is that all genetic mutations occur by “chance” or at “random” with respect to adaptation. However, the discovery of some molecular mechanisms enhancing mutation rate in response to environmental conditions has given rise to discussions among biologists, historians and philosophers of biology about the “chance” vs “directed” character of mutations . In fact, some argue that mutations due to a particular kind (...) of mutator mechanisms challenge the ModernSynthesis because they are produced when and where needed by the organisms concerned. This paper provides a defense of the ModernSynthesis’ consensus view about the chance nature of all genetic mutations by reacting to Jablonka and Lamb’s analysis of genetic mutations and the explicit Lamarckian flavor of their arguments. I argue that biologists can continue to talk about chance mutations according to what I call and define as the notion of “evolutionary chance,” which I claim is the ModernSynthesis’ consensus view and a reformulation of Darwin’s most influential idea of “chance” variation. Advances in molecular genetics are therefore significant but not revolutionary with respect to the ModernSynthesis’ paradigm. (shrink)
The modernsynthesis in evolutionary biology is taken to be that period in which a consensus developed among biologists about the major causes of evolution, a consensus that informed research in evolutionary biology for at least a half century. As such, it is a particularly fruitful period to consider when reflecting on the meaning and role of chance in evolutionary explanation. Biologists of this period make reference to “chance” and loose cognates of “chance,” such as: “random,” “contingent,” “accidental,” (...) “haphazard,” or “stochastic.” Of course, what an author might mean by “chance” in any specific context varies. -/- In the following, we first offer a historiographical note on the synthesis. Second, we introduce five ways in which synthesis authors spoke about chance. We do not take these to be an exhaustive taxonomy of all possible ways in which chance meaningfully figures in explanations in evolutionary biology. These are simply five common uses of the term by biologists at this period. They will serve to organize our summary of the collected references to chance and the analysis and discussion of the following questions: • What did synthesis authors understand by chance? • How did these authors see chance operating in evolution? • Did their appeals to chance increase or decrease over time during the synthesis? That is, was there a “hardening” of the synthesis, as Gould claimed (1983)? (shrink)
A central reason that undergirds the significance of evo-devo is the claim that development was left out of the Modernsynthesis. This claim turns out to be quite complicated, both in terms of whether development was genuinely excluded and how to understand the different kinds of embryological research that might have contributed. The present paper reevaluates this central claim by focusing on the practice of model organism choice. Through a survey of examples utilized in the literature of the (...)Modernsynthesis, I identify a previously overlooked feature: exclusion of research on marine invertebrates. Understanding the import of this pattern requires interpreting it in terms of two epistemic values operating in biological research: theoretical generality and explanatory completeness. In tandem, these values clarify and enhance the significance of this exclusion. The absence of marine invertebrates implied both a lack of generality in the resulting theory and a lack of completeness with respect to particular evolutionary problems, such as evolvability and the origin of novelty. These problems were salient to embryological researchers aware of the variation and diversity of larval forms in marine invertebrates. In closing, I apply this analysis to model organism choice in evo-devo and discuss its relevance for an extended evolutionary synthesis. (shrink)
This editorial introduces a series of review articles concerning the ways in which recent work on microbial evolution has both deepened and challenged the modernsynthesis. The authors develop a framework for thinking about theory change in biology.
We argue that the economy of nature constitutes an invocation of structure in the biological sciences, one largely missed by philosophers of biology despite the turn in recent years toward structural explanations throughout the philosophy of science. We trace a portion of the history of this concept, beginning with the theologically and economically grounded work of Linnaeus, moving through Darwin’s adaptation of the economy of nature and its reconstitution in genetic terms during the first decades of the Modern (...) class='Hi'>Synthesis. What this historical case study reveals, we argue, is a window into the shifting landscape of the explanatory and ontic uses of structural concepts. In Linnaeus, the economy of nature has both ontic and explanatory import; in Darwin the ontic and explanatory aspects start to come apart ; and finally, in the ModernSynthesis, the economy of nature is replaced by the conceptual toolkit of population genetics, the structural elements of which are nearly entirely explanatory. Having traced a historical trajectory of structural concepts that moves from an ontic formulation to an increasingly explanatory one, we conclude by outlining some insights for structural realism. (shrink)
We trace the history of the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, and of genetic Darwinism generally, with a view to showing why, even in its current versions, it can no longer serve as a general framework for evolutionary theory. The main reason is empirical. Genetical Darwinism cannot accommodate the role of development in many evolutionary processes. We go on to discuss two conceptual issues: whether natural selection can be the “creative factor” in a new, more general framework for evolutionary theorizing; (...) and whether in such a framework organisms must be conceived as self-organizing systems embedded in self-organizing ecological systems. (shrink)
Using the evolution of the stickleback family of subarctic fish as a touchstone, we explore the effect of new discoveries about regulatory genetics, developmental plasticity, and epigenetic inheritance on the conceptual foundations of the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis. Identifying the creativity of natural selection as the hallmark of the ModernSynthesis, we show that since its inception its adherents have pursued a variety of research projects that at first seemed to conflict with its principles, but were accommodated. (...) We situate challenges coming from developmental biology in a dialectic between innovation and tradition, suggesting on the basis of past episodes that even if developmental plasticity and epigenetic inheritance are aligned with its principles the ModernSynthesis will be significantly affected. (shrink)
In 1937, just as Dobzhansky published the book that later generations would laud as the foundation of the modernsynthesis, the American Naturnlist published a symposium on "supraspecific variation in nature and in classification." Alfred C. Kinsey, who later became one of America's most controversial intellectuals for his study of basic behaviors in another sort of WASP,1 led off the symposium with a summary of his extensive work on a family of gall wasps, the Cynipidae. In his article, (...) Kinsey strongly advocated the central theme of the developing synthesis: Evolution at all scales, particularly macroevolution, could be explained by the genetic mechanisms observed in laboratories and local populations. He first complained that some geneticists and naturalists were still impeding a synthesis with their insistence upon causal separation of levels: "Just as some of the geneticists have insisted that the laboratory genetics may explain the nature and origin of Mendelian races, but not of natural species, so others indicate that the qualities of higher categories must be explained on bases other than those involved in species" (1937, p. 208). He then defended the central postulate. (shrink)
Since the 1940s, microbiologists, biochemists and population geneticists have experimented with the genetic mechanisms of microorganisms in order to investigate evolutionary processes. These evolutionary studies of bacteria and other microorganisms gained some recognition from the standard-bearers of the modernsynthesis of evolutionary biology, especially Theodosius Dobzhansky and Ledyard Stebbins. A further period of post-synthesis bacterial evolutionary research occurred between the 1950s and 1980s. These experimental analyses focused on the evolution of population and genetic structure, the adaptive gain (...) of new functions, and the evolutionary consequences of competition dynamics. This large body of research aimed to make evolutionary theory testable and predictive, by giving it mechanistic underpinnings. Although evolutionary microbiologists promoted bacterial experiments as methodologically advantageous and a source of general insight into evolution, they also acknowledged the biological differences of bacteria. My historical overview concludes with reflections on what bacterial evolutionary research achieved in this period, and its implications for the still-developing modernsynthesis. (shrink)
This paper serves as an introduction to a special collection of papers exploring the centrifugal and centripetal forces in the process of disciplining and popularizing the science of evolution in the period preceding and after the modernsynthesis of evolution.
This paper uses formal Darwinism as elaborated by Alan Grafen to articulate an explanatory pluralism that casts light upon two strands of controversies running across evolutionary biology, viz., the place of organisms versus genes, and the role of adaptation. Formal Darwinism shows that natural selection can be viewed either physics-style, as a dynamics of alleles, or in the style of economics as an optimizing process. After presenting such pluralism, I argue first that whereas population genetics does not support optimization, optimality (...) can still be taken as a default hypothesis when modeling evolutionary processes; and second, that organisms have an explanatory role in evolutionary theory, since they are involved in the economic perspective of optimization. Finally, in order to ask whether the ModernSynthesis can indeed provide a theory of organisms, I apply a Kantian-inspired theoretical view of organisms (underlying much developmental modeling), according to which they are both designed entities and subjects of intrinsic circular processes involving the whole organism and its parts. I first show that the design aspect is accountable for in terms of the ModernSynthesis understood in the formal Darwinism framework. I then question whether the latter aspect of organisms can also be ultimately captured in the same framework, and to this purpose devise an empirical test relying on an assessment of the relative weight of genetic elements in developmental and functional gene regulatory networks. (shrink)
The ModernSynthesis has been receiving bad press for some time now. Back in 1983, in an article entitled “The Hardening of the ModernSynthesis” Stephen Jay Gould criticized the way the ModernSynthesis had developed since its inception in the 1930s and early 1940s (Gould 1983). Back then, those who would later become known as ‘architects’ of the synthesis were united in their call for explaining evolution at all levels in terms of (...) causation at one level: genetics. What drove changes in gene frequency remained an open question. It could be mainly selection, or drift, or some (other) form of constraint. But in the two decades that followed, the synthesis underwent a major change. By the late 1940s the synthesis had ‘hardened’ around adaptationism, according to Gould. Influential contributors like Dobzhansky, Simpson and Wright had increasingly expressed adaptationist views in the later editions of their landmark books. Not because evidence had piled up, showing that selection was in fact pervasive. Instead, Gould argued, adaptationist tendencies had been preserved by some kind of cultural inertia, and were now being revived. “Certain ‘national styles’ persisted from the eighteenth century, through Darwin’s era, and into our own time. Views on adaptation provide a good example” (Gould 1983). Gould did not just argue that some form of adaptationism had resurfaced. He became well-known for his efforts to intervene on this status quo by attempting to make evolutionary biology more ‘pluralistic’. In collaborative work with Richard Lewontin (Gould and Lewontin 1979), Elisabeth Vrba (Gould and Vrba 1982; Vrba and Gould 1986) and Niles Eldredge (Eldredge and Gould 1972; Gould and Eldredge 1977) he criticized the synthesis for its adaptationism and its lack of appreciation for hierarchical perspectives. Gould exerted his influence in a different way as well. Together with Eldredge, he had facsimiles reprinted of the first editions of two books that had shaped synthesis, but with their own critical introductions (Eldredge 1982; Gould 1982). Dobzhansky’s Genetics and the Origin of Species and Mayr’s Systematics and the Origin of Species appeared as reprints in the ‘Columbia Classics in Evolution’ series, sending an unambiguous message to the readers: these are foundational works, but they have been superseded. In the summer of 2008, some 25 years after Gould made his point about the hardening of the ModernSynthesis, a group of sixteen biologists and philosophers gathered at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI) near Vienna, Austria, to discuss cutting-edge research that reaches beyond the synthesis framework. Before it even started, this workshop on the ‘Extended Synthesis’ had already attracted a fair share of attention in the blogosphere and had resulted in a news feature in Science (Pennisi 2008). After the meeting, Nature weighed in on the matter (Whitfield 2008). The results of over 3 days of presentations and extensive discussion have now been published as Evolution—The Extended Synthesis. 1 The publication of this collection of sixteen essays is accompanied by the republication of Julian Huxley’s Evolution: The ModernSynthesis; the book that introduced the term ‘ModernSynthesis’. Both books are introduced by the organizers of the KLI workshop, Massimo Pigliucci and Gerd Müller. Like Gould and Eldredge before them, Pigliucci and Müller did not reissue one of the canons of the ModernSynthesis without giving the readers some ‘guidance’. Starting with the cover, the editors proclaim boldly that this is ‘the definitive edition’ of Huxley’s book. In a new foreword, they sketch the context in which the book was written and assess some of its features. They voice some mild criticism of alleged ‘adaptationism’. But their tone is different from that of Gould and Eldredge. Pigliucci and Müller praise Huxley for his pluralistic outlook, which has again become essential in the forging of an Extended Synthesis. That makes Huxley’s book more than just an interesting but obsolete classic. Instead, it can teach valuable lessons about how to ‘soften up’ a synthesis that has become hardened over time. (shrink)
This paper surveys questions about the nature of the ModernSynthesis as a historical event : was it rather theoretical than institutional? When and where did it actually happen? Who was involved? It argues that all answers to these questions are interrelated, and that systematic sets of answers define specific perspectives on the ModernSynthesis that are all complementary.
Huxley coined the phrase, the “evolutionary synthesis” to refer to the acceptance by a vast majority of biologists in the mid-20th Century of a “synthetic” view of evolution. According to this view, natural selection acting on minor hereditary variation was the primary cause of both adaptive change within populations and major changes, such as speciation and the evolution of higher taxa, such as families and genera. This was, roughly, a synthesis of Mendelian genetics and Darwinian evolutionary theory; it (...) was a demonstration that prior barriers to understanding between various subdisciplines in the life sciences could be removed. The relevance of different domains in biology to one another was established under a common research program. The evolutionary synthesis may be broken down into two periods, the “early” synthesis from 1918 through 1932, and what is more often called the “modernsynthesis” from 1936-1947. The authors most commonly associated with the early synthesis are J.B.S. Haldane, R.A. Fisher, and S. Wright. These three figures authored a number of important synthetic advances; first, they demonstrated the compatibility of a Mendelian, particulate theory of inheritance with the results of Biometry, a study of the correlations of measures of traits between relatives. Second, they developed the theoretical framework for evolutionary biology, classical population genetics. This is a family of mathematical models representing evolution as change in genotype frequencies, from one generation to the next, as a product of selection, mutation, migration, and drift, or chance. Third, there was a broader synthesis of population genetics with cytology, genetics, and biochemistry, as well as both empirical and mathematical demonstrations to the effect that very small selective forces acting over a relatively long time were able to generate substantial evolutionary change, a novel and surprising result to many skeptics of Darwinian gradualist views. The later “modern” synthesis is most often identified with the work of Mayr, Dobzhansky and Simpson. There was a major institutional change in biology at this stage, insofar as different subdisciplines formerly housed in different departments, and with different methodologies were united under the same institutional umbrella of “evolutionary biology.” Mayr played an important role as a community architect, in founding the Society for the Study of Evolution, and the journal Evolution, which drew together work in systematics, biogeography, paleontology, and theoretical population genetics. (shrink)
Ecology in principle is tied to evolution, since communities and ecosystems result from evolution and ecological conditions determine fitness values. Yet the two disciplines of evolution and ecology were not unified in the twentieth-century. The architects of the ModernSynthesis, and especially Julian Huxley, constantly pushed for such integration, but the major ideas of the Synthesis—namely, the privileged role of selection and the key role of gene frequencies in evolution—did not directly or immediately translate into ecological science. (...) In this paper I consider five stages through which the Synthesis was integrated into ecology and distinguish between various ways in which a possible integration was gained. I start with Elton’s animal ecology, then consider successively Ford’s ecological genetics in the 1940s, the major textbook Principles of animal ecology edited by Allee et al., and the debates over the role of competition in population regulation in the 1950s, ending with Hutchinson’s niche concept and McArthur and Wilson’s Principles of Island Biogeography viewed as a formal transposition of ModernSynthesis explanatory schemes. I will emphasize the key role of founders of the Synthesis at each stage of this very nonlinear history. (shrink)
This paper locates the contributions of Kauffman and Ayala to this symposium in the context of recent discussions of the adequacy of the ModernSynthesis. The neglect of morphology and development described by Kauffman is understandable in view of the belief that selection is the most powerful evolutionary force. His idea that properties of order may be explained by nonselective mechanisms is also examined. The paper subsequently takes up Ayala's criticism of S.J. Gould's view that macroevolution is a (...) process "decoupled" from microevolution. It is argued that the idea of species selection makes Gould's antireductionism ontological in character; this contrasts with Ayala's contention that the decoupling is merely epistemological. (shrink)
This paper examines the history of animal behavior studies after the synthesis period. Three episodes are considered: the adoption of the theory of natural selection, the mathematization of ideas, and the spread of molecular methods in behavior studies. In these three episodes, students of behavior adopted practices and standards developed in population ecology and population genetics. While they borrowed tools and methods from these fields, they made distinct uses that set them relatively apart and led them to contribute, in (...) their own way, to evolutionary theory. These episodes also highlight some limitations of “conjunction narratives” centered on the relation between a discipline and the modernsynthesis. A trend in conjunction narratives is to interpret any development related to evolution in a discipline as an “extension,” an “integration,” or as a “delayed” synthesis. I here suggest that this can lead to underestimate discontinuities in the history of evolutionary biology. (shrink)
A common criticism of punctuated equilibria as an evolutionary theory is that it erects a straw man by characterizing the modernsynthesis as being devoid of mechanisms that bring about rapid speciation and abrupt changes in morphology. Thompson supports this view and argues that the modernsynthesis does not entail gradualism, all-pervasive adaptationism, or extrapolationism and that punctuationists have mischaracterized the theory on all these points; properly understood the synthetic theory is hierarchical and able to explain (...) phenomena at all levels of the hierarchy, thus rendering macroevolutionary theories, such as punctuated equilibria, unnecessary. I argue in this paper that Thompson's approach is overly dependent upon rational reconstruction in the style of the logical empiricists, and as such ignores important sociological and historical factors that when taken into account justify punctuational criticism of the synthetic theory. (shrink)
Ernst Mayr (1980) provided an influential picture of the nature of the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis and of the debate and changes occurring prior to its completion. Mayr intended his account to be applicable to comparable cases. Sociobiology should be evaluated both as a comparable case, an attempt to produce a synthesis which undergoes development of the sort Mayr described, and as an extension of the ModernSynthesis itself. Examination of what the explanatory goals and development (...) of the New Sociobiological Synthesis would be, if it is to achieve a fruitful synthesis which fits Mayr's account, undermines Richard Lewontin's critique of sociobiology. Although Lewontin speaks for many in viewing sociobiology as the latest historical manifestation of social Darwinism, genetic determinism, biological reductionism, and vulgar adaptationism, sociobiology's effort to produce a synthesis does not entail commitment to those positions. (shrink)
The paper discusses the Kantian legacy in modern views about scientific theories. The aim of this paper is to show how Einstein's philosophy of science, which was inspired by his physics, offers a specialized version of the Kantian synthesis of Empiricism and Rationalism. In modern physical theories Kant's a priori conditions become 'constraints', as shown in Einstein's use of principle theories. Einstein's use of principle theories shows how constraints are used to steer the mapping of the rational (...) onto the empirical elements of scientific theories. (shrink)
A familiar story about mid-twentieth-century American psychology tells of the replacement of behaviorism by cognitive science. Between these two, however, lay a borderland, muddy and much trespassed-upon. This paper relocates the origins of the Chomskyan program in linguistics there. Following his introduction of transformational generative grammar, Chomsky mounted a highly publicized attack on behaviorist psychology. Yet when he first developed that approach to grammar, he was a defender of behaviorism. His anti-behaviorism emerged only in the course of what became a (...) systematic repudiation of the work of the Cornell linguist C. F. Hockett. In the name of the positivist Unity-of-Science movement, Hockett had synthesized an approach to grammar based on statistical communication theory; a behaviorist view of language acquisition in children as a process of association and analogy; and an interest in uncovering the Darwinian origins of language. In criticizing Hockett on grammar, Chomsky came to engage gradually and critically with the whole Hockettian synthesis. Situating Chomsky thus within his own disciplinary matrix suggests lessons for students of disciplinary politics generally and – famously with Chomsky – the place of political discipline within a scientific life. (shrink)
The concept of the gene has been the central organizing theme of 20th century biology. Biology has become increasingly influential both for philosophers seeking a naturalized basis for epistemology, ethics, and the understanding of the mind, as well as for the human sciences generally. The central task of this work is to get the story right about genes and in so doing provide a critical and enabling resourse for use in the further pursuit of human self-understanding. ;The work begins with (...) a wide-ranging historical reconstruction and conceptual analysis of the meaning of "the gene" that results in defining and distinguishing two different "genes". Each of these can be seen as an heir to one of the two major historical trends in explaining the source of biological order---preformationism and epigenesis. The preformationist gene predicts phenotypes but only on an instrumental basis where immediate medical and/or economic benefits can be had. The gene of epigenesis , by contrast, is a developmental resource that provides templates for RNA and protein synthesis but has in itself no determinate relationship to organismal phenotypes. The seemingly prevalent idea that genes constitute information for traits is based, I argue, upon an unwarranted conflation of these two senses which is in effect held together by rhetorical glue. Beyond this historical, conceptual, and rhetorical inquiry the bulk of the dissertation then concerns itself with an empirically up-to-date analysis of the cell and molecular basis of biological order and of the pathological loss of same. In each of these chapters I structure my analysis with the idea in mind that the "conflated" view can be held empirically accountable. Major touchpoints in this work include the ideas of I. Kant, J. Blumenbach, K. E. von Baer, J. Muller, R. Virchow, W. Johannsen, R. Falk, J. Sapp, E. Schrodinger, M. Delbruick, G. Gamow, R. Doyle, L. Kay, S. Kauffman, E. Jablonka, J. Rothman, K. Yamamoto, P. Rous, H. Temin, J. M. Bishop, H. Harris, E. Stanbridge, D. L. Smithers, B. Vogelstein, E. Farber and H. Rubin. (shrink)
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 modernsynthesis. This point is illustrated through a short analysis of the latest reform challenge to the modernsynthesis, the so-called extended evolutionary synthesis. We conclude with the suggestion that the modernsynthesis should be amended, rather than replaced. (shrink)
Julian Huxley on Darwinian evolution: A snapshot of a theory Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9499-8 Authors Michael Ruse, Department of Philosophy, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32303, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Benton Stidd has defended the position that punctuationists are not wrong about the inadequacy of the synthetic theory of evolution for explaining evolution. The thrust of his defense is that arguments to the contrary by Thompson involve a rational reconstruction along logical empiricist lines, which is insensitive to historical and social forces in a way that the Kuhnian Weltanschauung view that he espouses is not. I argue in this paper that Stidd has entirely misunderstood my arguments, that the soundness of (...) my arguments does not depend on acceptance of logical empiricism, and that Stidd fails to establish that punctuated equilibria is a new "paradigm". (shrink)
Benton Stidd has defended the position that punctuationists are not wrong about the inadequacy of the synthetic theory of evolution for explaining evolution. The thrust of his defense is that arguments to the contrary by Thompson involve a rational reconstruction along logical empiricist lines, which is insensitive to historical and social forces in a way that the Kuhnian Weltanschauung view that he espouses is not. I argue in this paper that Stidd has entirely misunderstood my arguments, that the soundness of (...) my arguments does not depend on acceptance of logical empiricism , and that Stidd fails to establish that punctuated equilibria is a new "paradigm". (shrink)
In 2011, Peterson suggested that the main reason why C.H. Waddington was essentially ignored by the framers of the modern evolutionary synthesis in the 1950s was because they were Cartesian reductionists and mathematical population geneticists while he was a Whiteheadian organicist and experimental geneticist who worked with Drosophila. This paper suggests a further reason that can only be seen now. The former defined genes and their alleles by their selectable phenotypes, essentially the Mendelian view, while Waddington defined a (...) gene through its functional role as determined by genetic analysis, a view that foresaw the modern view that a gene is a DNA sequence with some function. The former were interested in selection, while Waddington focused on variation. The differences between the two views of a gene are briefly considered in the context of systems biology. (shrink)
The debate of nativisim versus empiricism is over the relative importance of evolutionary versus ontogenetic mechanisms. This is mostly seen today as a false dichotomy. The synthesis of these positions provides a modern viewpoint of grounded category formation. This combined view places equal importance on feedback between these levels in guiding development, and is more appropriately compared to culturalist positions.
Xiong was the originator and founder of Modern Confucianism (xin ruxue ) as well as one of the first Chinese philosophers, who developed his own system of thought, which was based upon classical Confucian concepts and, at the same time, adjusted to the conditions of the New Era. His contribution to the development of modern Chinese philosophy can also be demonstrated in a much broader, general sense. Xiong Shili, namely, also represents one of the first theoretically qualified intellectuals (...) of his age, who didn’t advocate the conservative elitist nationalism, but at the same time opposed the prevailing trends of iconoclastic negation of tradition. Even later on, during the predomination of the so-called communist ideologies, Xiong rather consequently persisted in his—for that time completely unacceptable— standpoints.Thus Xiong Shili, remaining a real Confucian scholar at a time, when Confucianism was everything else but the prevailing state doctrine, doubtless represents a real traditional sage. For him, Confucianism was not solely the predominating system of thought, to which he should formally conform in order to achieve the realization of some privileges and private interests. He was a Confucian scholar by following his own inner conviction, or, with other words, he was a Confucian “inner sage.” Hereby,we encounter an extremely rare kind of Confucian scholars, namely of those, who did not remain limited to a paper-wrapped reproduction of idealistic principles of Confucian thought, but who also tried to perform them in their own life. Xiong’s personal moral was the ethics of a Confucian scholar, who can be a gentle, subtle thinker and a steadfast, consequent rebel at the same time. (shrink)
Numerous theories have attempted to overcome the anti-essentialist scepticism about the possibility of defining art. While significant advances have been made in this field, it seems that most modern definitions fail to successfully address the issue of the ever-changing nature of art raised by Morris Weitz, and rarely even attempt to provide an account which would be valid in more than just the modern Western context. This thesis looks at the most successful definitions currently defended, determines their strengths (...) and weaknesses, and offers a new, cultural definition which can preserve the good elements of other theories, solve or avoid their problems, and have a scope wide enough to account for art of different times and cultures. The resulting theory is a synthetic one in that it preserves the essential institutionalism of Dickie's institutional views, is inspired by the historical and functional determination of artistic phenomena present in Levinson's historicism and Beardsley's functionalism, and presents the reasons for something becoming art in a disjunctive form of Gaut's cluster account. Its strengths lie in the ability to account for the changing art-status of objects in various cultures and at various times, providing an explanation of not only what is or was art, but also how and why the concept 'art' changes historically and differs between cultures, and successfully balancing between the over-generalisations of ahistorical and universalist views, and the uninformativeness of relativism. More broadly, the cultural theory stresses the importance of treating art as a historical phenomenon embedded in particular social and cultural settings, and encourages cooperation with other disciplines such as anthropology and history of art. (shrink)
What role does non-genetic inheritance play in evolution? In recent work we have independently and collectively argued that the existence and scope of non-genetic inheritance systems, including epigenetic inheritance, niche construction/ecological inheritance, and cultural inheritance—alongside certain other theory revisions—necessitates an extension to the neo-Darwinian ModernSynthesis (MS) in the form of an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES). However, this argument has been challenged on the grounds that non-genetic inheritance systems are exclusively proximate mechanisms that serve the ultimate function (...) of calibrating organisms to stochastic environments. In this paper we defend our claims, pointing out that critics of the EES (1) conflate non-genetic inheritance with early 20th-century notions of soft inheritance; (2) misunderstand the nature of the EES in relation to the MS; (3) confuse individual phenotypic plasticity with trans-generational non-genetic inheritance; (4) fail to address the extensive theoretical and empirical literature which shows that non-genetic inheritance can generate novel targets for selection, create new genetic equilibria that would not exist in the absence of non-genetic inheritance, and generate phenotypic variation that is independent of genetic variation; (5) artificially limit ultimate explanations for traits to gene-based selection, which is unsatisfactory for phenotypic traits that originate and spread via non-genetic inheritance systems; and (6) fail to provide an explanation for biological organization. We conclude by noting ways in which we feel that an overly gene-centric theory of evolution is hindering progress in biology and other sciences. (shrink)
Adaptation by means of natural selection depends on the ability of populations to maintain variation in heritable traits. According to the ModernSynthesis this variation is sustained by mutations and genetic drift. Epigenetics, evodevo, niche construction and cultural factors have more recently been shown to contribute to heritable variation, however, leading an increasing number of biologists to call for an extended view of speciation and evolution. An additional common feature across the animal kingdom is learning, defined as the (...) ability to change behavior according to novel experiences or skills. Learning constitutes an additional source for phenotypic variation, and change in behavior may induce long lasting shifts in fitness, and hence favor evolutionary novelties. Based on published studies, I demonstrate how learning about food, mate choice and habitats has contributed substantially to speciation in the canonical story of Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos Islands. Learning cannot be reduced to genetics, because it demands decisions, which requires a subject. Evolutionary novelties may hence emerge both from shifts in allelic frequencies and from shifts in learned, subject driven behavior. The existence of two principally different sources of variation also prevents the ModernSynthesis from self-referring explanations. (shrink)
Represents the most comprehensive and current survey of the various challenges to the ModernSynthesis theory of evolution. Incorporates a variety of theoretical and disciplinary perspectives, from evolutionary biologists, historians and philosophers of science. These essays constitute the state of the art in the current debate on the status of the ModernSynthesis.
In 1912, Julian Huxley published his first book The Individual in the Animal Kingdom which he dedicated to the then world-famous French philosopher Henri Bergson. Historians have generally adopted one of two attitudes towards Huxley’s early encounter with Bergson. They either dismiss it entirely as unimportant or minimise it, deeming it a youthful indiscretion preceding Huxley’s full conversion to Fisherian Darwinism. Close biographical study and new archive materials demonstrate, however, that neither position is tenable. The Bergsonian elements in play in (...) Julian Huxley’s early works fed into his first ideas about progress in evolution and even his celebrated theories of bird courtship. Furthermore, the view that Huxley rejected Bergson in his later years needs to be revised. Although Huxley ended up claiming that Bergson’s theory of evolution had no explanatory power, he never repudiated the descriptive power of Bergson’s controversial notion of the élan vital. Even into the ModernSynthesis period, Huxley represented his own synthesis as drawing decisively on Bergson’s philosophy. (shrink)