Home > History & Philosophy > In The Light of Evolution (and more on the Darwinian Revolution)

In The Light of Evolution (and more on the Darwinian Revolution)

June 23, 2009

PNAS has made the proceedings of the Sackler Colloquium on 200 years of Darwin freely available online. There are plenty of science papers in the volume, but I want to highlight the history and philosophy papers.

  • Francisco J. Ayala “Darwin and the scientific method” <txt>
  • Michael Ruse “The Darwinian revolution: Rethinking its meaning and significance” <txt>
  • Elliott Sober “Did Darwin write the Origin backwards?” <txt>
  • Robert J. Richards “Darwin’s place in the history of thought: A reevaluation” <txt>
  • Daniel Dennett “Darwin’s ‘strange inversion of reasoning'” <txt>

I haven’t read these yet, but will at the moment just note Ruse’s abstract as it deals with a subject that I have talked about quite a bit this year:

The Darwinian revolution is generally taken to be one of the key events in the history of Western science. In recent years, however, the very notion of a scientific revolution has come under attack, and in the specific case of Charles Darwin and his Origin of Species there are serious questions about the nature of the change (if there was such) and the specifically Darwinian input. This article considers these issues by addressing these questions: Was there a Darwinian revolution? That is, was there a revolution at all? Was there a Darwinian revolution? That is, what was the specific contribution of Charles Darwin? Was there a Darwinian revolution? That is, what was the conceptual nature of what occurred on and around the publication of the Origin? I argue that there was a major change, both scientifically and in a broader metaphysical sense; that Charles Darwin was the major player in the change, although one must qualify the nature and the extent of the change, looking particularly at things in a broader historical context than just as an immediate event; and that the revolution was complex and we need the insights of rather different philosophies of scientific change to capture the whole phenomenon. In some respects, indeed, the process of analysis is still ongoing and unresolved.

More on this later, perhaps. It may even spur me to write down what I have been saying over the past few years when I give my “Was There A Darwinian Revolution?” talk.

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  1. June 24, 2009 at 1:36 am

    I dont understand why is so out of proporion the attention that is paid to darwin compared to the one that is paid to mendel who showed that the inheritance of traits follows particular laws, and is called the father of genetics.

  2. June 24, 2009 at 10:43 am

    It may even spur me to write down what I have been saying over the past few years when I give my “Was There A Darwinian Revolution?” talk.

    I certainly hope so!

  3. afarensis, FCD
    June 24, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    That is the third of three. There are two others…

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