, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 203-205
Date: 23 Mar 2012

Alfred Russel Wallace and the elimination of the unfit

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The differences between Charles Darwin’s and Alfred Russel Wallace’s theories of natural selection have been discussed for many years, with particular attention to their varying thoughts on sexual selection, whether competition occurs primarily between individuals or varieties, and how human consciousness evolves. Potentially the most important difference between their respective points of view has, however, been largely overlooked. Darwin’s natural selection, later characterized as the ‘survival of the fittest,’ contains an ‘adaptation results in adaptations’ logic that some have criticized as tautological (Lewontin 1984) or even teleological (Reiss 2009). This inelegancy has been tolerated because the theory’s stated premises (i.e. the presence of a limited resource base, coupled with variation within populations and the potential for procreation to the point of superabundance) remain as unassailable now as they were originally. In a paper in the journal Complexity (Smith 2012), howe ...