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Biology & Philosophy

, 33:23 | Cite as

What’s wrong with the modern evolutionary synthesis? A critical reply to Welch (2017)

  • Koen B. TangheEmail author
  • Alexis De Tiège
  • Lieven Pauwels
  • Stefaan Blancke
  • Johan Braeckman
Article

Abstract

Welch (Biol Philos 32(2):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 modern synthesis. This point is illustrated through a short analysis of the latest reform challenge to the modern synthesis, the so-called extended evolutionary synthesis. We conclude with the suggestion that the modern synthesis should be amended, rather than replaced.

Keywords

Modern evolutionary synthesis Extended evolutionary synthesis Genecentrism Kuhn Welch 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful and constructive comments and suggestions.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Moral SciencesUniversiteit GentGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Criminology, Criminal Law and Social LawUniversiteit GentGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Cognitive ScienceCEU BudapestBudapestHungary

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