Original Paper

Biological Theory

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 89-102

First online:

The Fate of Darwinism: Evolution After the Modern Synthesis

  • David J. DepewAffiliated withProject on the Rhetoric of Inquiry, University of Iowa Email author 
  • , Bruce H. WeberAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry, California State University

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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 (and of genes in 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.


Developmental Systems Theory Ecological systems Genetical Darwinism Hierarchical expansion (of synthesis) Modern Evolutionary Synthesis Natural selection Niche construction Self-organization Selfish gene theory