Advertisement

Journal of Biosciences

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 203–205 | Cite as

Alfred Russel Wallace and the elimination of the unfit

  • Charles H. Smith
Clipboard

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),...

Keywords

Adaptation Alfred Russel Wallace elimination of the unfit evolution natural selection 

References

  1. Bateson G 1972 Steps to an ecology of mind (San Francisco: Chandler Publishing Co.) p 435Google Scholar
  2. Darwin C 2002 Notebook E (Transmutation of Species, Oct 1838–July 1839) p 71 (The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online http://darwin-online.org.uk/)
  3. Lewontin RC 1984 Adaptation; in Conceptual issues in evolutionary biology (ed) E Sober (Cambridge MA: MIT Press) pp 235–251Google Scholar
  4. Marchant J 1916 Alfred Russel Wallace letters and reminiscences (New York: Harper) p 141Google Scholar
  5. Reiss JO 2009 Not by design; retiring Darwin’s watchmaker (Berkeley: University of California Press)Google Scholar
  6. Smith CH 2012 Natural selection: a concept in need of some evolution? Complexity 17 8–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Wallace AR 1858 On the tendency of varieties to depart indefinitely from the original type. J. Proc. Linn. Soc.: Zool. 3 53–62Google Scholar
  8. Wallace AR 1877 The colours of animals and plants. Macmillan's Mag. 36 384–408, 464–471Google Scholar
  9. Wallace AR 1889 Darwinism (London: Macmillan)Google Scholar
  10. Wallace AR 1890 Human selection. Fortnight. Rev. 48 325–337Google Scholar
  11. Wallace AR 1892 Note on sexual selection. Nat. Sci. 1 749–750Google Scholar
  12. Wallace AR 1893 Interview in The Daily Chronicle (London) 4 December 1893 p 3Google Scholar
  13. Wallace AR 1894 Interview in Humanitarian 4 80–88Google Scholar
  14. Wallace AR 1895 The method of organic evolution. Fortnight. Rev. 57 211–224, 435–445Google Scholar
  15. Wallace AR 1896 The problem of utility: are specific characters always or generally useful? J. Linn. Soc.: Zool 25 481–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Wallace AR 1900 True individualism–the essential preliminary of a real social advance; in Studies scientific and social AR Wallace (London: Macmillan) 2 510–520Google Scholar
  17. Wallace AR 1901 Evolution; in The progress of the century (New York and London: Harper & Brothers) pp 3–29Google Scholar
  18. Wallace AR 1908 Evolution and character. Fortnight. Rev. 83 1–24Google Scholar
  19. Wallace AR 1909 The world of life: as visualised and interpreted by Darwinism. Fortnight. Rev. 85 411–434Google Scholar
  20. Wallace AR 1913 Social environment and moral progress (New York: Cassell & Co.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University LibrariesWestern Kentucky UniversityBowling GreenUSA

Personalised recommendations