The increasing attention which has been given to social history of science and to the sociological analysis of scientific activity has resulted in a renewed interest in scientific controversies. Furthermore, the rejection of the presentist view of history, according to which those contestants who took what we can identify, with the benefit of modern knowledge, as the ‘right’ stand in a controversy, were right and their opponents were ‘wrong’, left the subject of scientific controversies with many questions. What determines their (...) emergence, course and resolution? When Froggatt and Nevin wrote on the Bio-metric-Mendelian controversy in 1971 they called their article ‘descriptive rather than interpretative’, so they avoided the very questions we would like to ask. Provine, in the same year, concentrated on the strong personalities of the contestants, their clashes, and the scientific arguments in play. But in 1975 Mackenzie and Barnes argued that the controversy could not be accounted for unless recourse was had to sociological factors. Their view has become widely known and figured prominently in 1982 in Steven Shapin's recital of the empirical achievements of the application of the sociological approach. I have returned to this subject because I do not yet feel altogether convinced by Mackenzie and Barnes' analysis. Even if their analysis of the controversy between Pearson and Bateson be accepted, it is not so obvious how effectively it can be used to explain the controversy between Weldon and Bateson, and I am not confident that it is adequate for an understanding of the evolution of their differing views of the mechanism of evolution. (shrink)
Research in Mendelian heredity was first given permanent institutional support in the U.K. at the John Innes Horticultural Institution. The path by which this was achieved is described. It is shown that Brooke-Hunt in the Board of Agriculture played a decisive part in redirecting the John Innes Bequest from a school for gardeners as intended by the testator to an institute given to research on plants of importance to the horticultural trade. The choice of William Bateson as the institute's first (...) director is traced to the influence of a lobby of academic biologists led by J. B. Farmer. The effects of Bateson's appointment on the shape taken by the new institute and on its subsequent history are described. (shrink)
The origin, character, and reception of the Development Act of 1909 are described. Extant evaluations of its historical significance are presented and criticized. It is claimed that the significance of the Act for the promotion of scientific research in agriculture, horticulture, and forestry has been largely overlooked. The way in which the Commissioners of the Act interpreted their brief by establishing scholarships, new research institutes, and developing existing institutes is described.
The recognition of Gregor Mendel's achievement in his study of hybridization was signalled by the ‘rediscovery’ papers of Hugo de Vries, Carl Correns and Erich Tschermak. The dates on which these papers were published are given in Table 1. The first of these—De Vries ‘Comptes rendus paper—was in French and made no mention of Mendel or his paper. The rest, led by De Vries’ Berichte paper, were in German and mentioned Mendel, giving the location of his paper. It has long (...) been accepted that the first account of Mendel's work in English was given by the Cambridge zoologist, William Bateson, to an audience of Fellows of the Royal Horticultural Society in London on 8 May, 1900. This is based on two sources: the paper ‘Problems of Heredity as a Subject for Horticultural Investigation’, published in the Society's journal later that year and stated as ‘Read 8 May, 1900’, and Beatrice Bateson's account of the event over a quarter of a century later. Of the paper which her husband gave on that occasion she wrote:He had already prepared this paper, but in the train on his way to town to deliver it, he read Mendel's actual paper on peas for the first time. As a lecturer he was always cautious, suggesting rather than affirming his own convictions. So ready was he however for the simple Mendelian law that he at once incorporated it into his lecture. (shrink)
Staffan Müller-Wille & Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (Eds): Heredity Produced. At the Crossroads of Biology, Politics, and Culture, 1500–1870 Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 327-331 DOI 10.1007/s10441-011-9130-4 Authors Robert Olby, Department of the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, 1017 Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, PA 15236, USA Journal Acta Biotheoretica Online ISSN 1572-8358 Print ISSN 0001-5342 Journal Volume Volume 59 Journal Issue Volume 59, Numbers 3-4.
An attempt is made to establish the historical context in which the structure and function of haemoglobin were investigated by X-ray crystallographers in the 1940s and 50s. It is concluded that until the 1960s the interpretations of the data of crystallographic investigations were dependent upon the results of applying traditional techniques of physical and organic chemistry. In the case of haemoglobin, no less than in those of smaller organic molecules, crystallographic studies in the 1940s and early 50s served to validate, (...) and metricize conclusions already suggested or adopted on other grounds, but the subsequent tracing of the actual conformation of the polypeptide chains in the globin portion of the molecule was a unique achievement of the X-ray crystallographers and marked the beginning of the independent establishment of structures by this profession. The impact of this achievement upon the structure-function relationships of haemoglobin is discussed briefly. (shrink)
Proceedings of the Pittsburgh Workshop in History and Philosophy of Biology, Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, March 23-24 2001 Session 3: Natural Selection as a Causal Theory.