Advertisement

Metascience

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 481–485 | Cite as

Evolutionary chance and contingency: in search for systematics

Grant Ramsey and Charles H. Pence (eds.): Chance in evolution. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016, 384 pp, $45.00, ₤31.50 PB
  • Jeroen Hopster
Review Essay
  • 103 Downloads

Although Darwin has been celebrated for uncovering the role of chance in evolution, he was no chance aficionado. Darwin did not like the term; echoing the intellectual consensus of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, he often relegated chance to ignorance. Over the course of Darwin’s lifetime, this consensus was beginning to unravel. A great enthusiasm for using statistical methods developed, especially in the social sciences, but Darwin was not infected by it. The potential to utilize statistical methods to study evolution became apparent only later through the contributions of biometricians and population geneticists.

Nonetheless, Darwin didchampion the role of chance in evolution, albeit in a different sense. Darwin pioneered a use of the term that would become specific to evolutionary theory: natural variations are the result of chance, in the sense that they are not occasioned by their adaptive benefits. Put differently, variations arise independently of their fitness...

References

  1. Conway Morris, S. 1985. The Middle Cambrian Metaoan Wiwaxiacorrugata (Matthew) from the Burgess Shale and Ogygopsis Shale, British Columbia, Canada. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 307 (1134): 507–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Gould, S.J. 1976. The genomic metronome as a null hypothesis. Paleobiology 2 (2): 177–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Gould, S.J. 1996. Full house: The spread of excellence from Plato to Darwin. New York: Harmony.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Lüthy, C.H., and C.R. Palmerino. 2016. Conceptual and historical reflections on chance (and related concepts). In The challenge of chance, ed. K. Landsman, and E. van Wolde, 9–48. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Millstein, R.L. 2011. Chances and causes in evolutionary biology: How many chances become one chance. In Causality in the sciences, ed. P. McKay Illari, F. Russo, and J. Williamson, 425–444. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Sepkoski, D. 2016. “Replaying Life’s Tape”: Simulations, metaphors, and historicity in Stephen Jay Gould’s view of life. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biology and Biomedical Sciences 58: 73–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Religious StudiesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations