Theory in Biosciences

, Volume 130, Issue 4, pp 299–312 | Cite as

Darwin without borders? Looking at ‘generalised Darwinism’ through the prism of the ‘hourglass model’

Original Paper

Abstract

This article critically analyzes the arguments of the ‘generalized Darwinism’ recently proposed for the analysis of social-economical systems. We argue that ‘generalized Darwinism’ is both restrictive and empty. It is restrictive because it excludes alternative (non-selectionist) evolutionary mechanisms such as orthogenesis, saltationism and mutationism without any examination of their suitability for modeling socio-economic processes and ignoring their important roles in the development of contemporary evolutionary theory. It is empty, because it reduces Darwinism to an abstract triple-principle scheme (variation, selection and inheritance) thus ignoring the actual structure of Darwinism as a complex and dynamic theoretical structure inseparable from a very detailed system of theoretical constraints. Arguing against ‘generalised Darwinism’ we present our vision of the history of evolutionary biology with the help of the ‘hourglass model’ reflecting the internal dynamic of competing theories of evolution.

Keywords

Generalised Darwinism Anti-Darwinism Orthogenesis Saltationism The synthetic theory of evolution (STE) The ‘hourglass model’ The extended Synthesis 

References

  1. Aldrich HE, Hodgson GM, Hull DL, Knudsen T, Mokyr J, Vanberg VJ (2008) In defence of generalized Darwinism. J Evol Econ 18:577–596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berg LS (1926) Nomogenesis or evolution determined by law. Constable, London (2 nd edn, 1969, MIT Press, Cambridge)Google Scholar
  3. Beurlen K (1930) Vergleichende Stammesgeschichte. Borntraeger, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  4. Bowler PJ (1983) The eclipse of Darwinism. The John Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  5. Bowler PJ (1992) The non-Darwinian revolution. The Johns Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  6. Bowler PJ (2003) Evolution: the history of an idea. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  7. Bowler PJ (2004) The specter of Darwinism: the popular image of Darwinism in early twentieth-century Britain. In: Lustig A, Richards RJ, Ruse M (eds) Darwinian heresies. Cambridge University Press, New York, pp 48–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buenstorf G (2006) How useful is generalized Darwinism as a framework to study competition and industrial evolution? J Evol Econ 16(5):511–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cairns J, Overbaugh J, Miller S (1988) The origin of Mutants. Nature 335:142–145PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Campbell DT (1960) Blind variation and selective retentions in creative thought as in other knowledge processes. Psychol Rev 67(6):380–400PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cordes C (2006) Darwinism in economics: from analogy to continuity. J Evol Econ 16:529–541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Darwin C (1859) On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. John Murray, LondonGoogle Scholar
  13. Darwin C (1871) The descent of man and selection in relation to sex. John Murray, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Darwin C (1872) On the origin of species, 6th edn. John Murray, LondonGoogle Scholar
  15. Darwin C, Wallace AR (1858) On the tendency of species to form varieties; and on the perpetuation of varieties and species by natural means of selection. J Proc Linn Soc Lond Zool 3:45–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dawkins R (1983) Universal Darwinism. In: Bendall DS (ed) Evolution from molecules to man. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 403–425Google Scholar
  17. De Vries H (1906) Species and varieties: their origin by mutation. The Open Court Publishing Company, Chicago & Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner and Co, LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. Eimer T (1888) Die Entstehung der Arten auf Grund von Vererben erworbener Eigenschaften nach den Gesetzen organischen Wachsens. Verlag von Gustav Fischer, JenaCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Eimer T (1897) Orthogenesis der Schmetterlinge. Ein Beweis bestimmt gerichteter Entwickelung und Ohnmacht der natürlichen Zuchtwahl bei der Artbildung. Verlag von Wilhelm Engelmann, LeipzigGoogle Scholar
  20. Gilbert SF, Bolker JA (2003) Ecological developmental biology: preface to the symposium. Evol Dev 5(1):3–8PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gilbert SF, Epel D (2009) Ecological developmental biology. Sinauer Associates, SunderlandGoogle Scholar
  22. Gliboff S (2006) The case of Paul Kammerer. Evolution and experimentation in the early 20th century. J Hist Biol 39:525–563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gould SJ (1977) Ontogeny and phylogeny. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  24. Gould SJ (2002) The structure of evolutionary theory. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  25. Gould SJ, Eldridge N (1972) Punctuated equilibria: an alternative to phyletic gradualism. In: Schopf TJM (ed) Models in paleobiology. Freeman, Cooper, San Francisco, pp 82–115Google Scholar
  26. Haake W (1893) Gestalt und Vererbung. Eine Entwickelungsmechanik der Organismen. T.O. Weigel Nachfolger, LeipzigGoogle Scholar
  27. Haeckel E (1866) Generelle Morphologie der Organismen, 2 Bde. Georg Reimer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Haig D (2007) Weismann rules! OK? Epigenetics and the Lamarckian temptation. Biol Philos 22:415–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hodgson GM (2002) Darwinism in economics: from analogy to ontology. J Evol Econ 12:259–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hodgson GM (2009) Agency, institutions, and Darwinism in evolutionary economic geography. J Econ Geogr 85(2):167–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hodgson GM, Knudsen T (2004) The firm as an interactor: firms as vehicles for habits and routines. J Evol Econ 14:281–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hodgson GM, Knudsen T (2006a) Why we need a generalized Darwinism, and why generalized Darwinism is not enough. J Econ Behav Organ 61:1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hodgson GM, Knudsen T (2006b) Dismantling Lamarckism: why descriptions of socio-economic evolution as Lamarckian are misleading. J Evol Econ 16:343–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hodgson GM, Knudsen T (2010) Darwin’s conjecture. The search for general principles of social and economic evolution. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  35. Hoßfeld U (2010) Ernst Haeckel. Orange press, FreiburgGoogle Scholar
  36. Jablonka E, Lamb M (2006) Evolution in four dimensions. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  37. Johannsen W (1903) Über Erblichkeit in Populationen und in reinen Linien. Fischer Verlag, JenaGoogle Scholar
  38. Junker T (2003) Die zweite darwinsche Revolution: Geschichte des synthetischen Darwinismus in Deutschland 1924–1950. Basilisken-Presse, MarburgGoogle Scholar
  39. Kellog VN (1909) The upholding of Darwin. Am Nat 43(509):317–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kutschera U, Niklas KJ (2004) The modern theory of biological evolution: an expanded synthesis. Naturwissenschaften 91:255–276PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kutschera U, Niklas KJ (2008) Macroevolution via secondary endosymbiosis: a Neo-Goldschmidtian view of unicellular hopeful monsters and Darwin’s primordial intermediate form. Theory Biosci 127:277–289PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Levit GS, Hoßfeld U (2005) Die Nomogenese: Eine Evolutionstheorie jenseits des Darwinismus und Lamarckismus. Verhandlungen zur Geschichte und Theorie der Biologie 11:367–388Google Scholar
  43. Levit GS, Hoßfeld U (2006) The forgotten “old Darwinian” synthesis: the evolutionary theory of Ludwig H. Plate (1862–1937). NTM Int Hist Ethics Nat Sci Technol Med 14:9–25Google Scholar
  44. Levit GS, Olsson L (2006) “Evolution on rails”: mechanisms and levels of orthogenesis. Ann Hist Philos Biol 11:97–136Google Scholar
  45. Levit GS, Meister K, Hoßfeld U (2008a) Alternative evolutionary theories from the historical perspective. J Bioecon 10(1):71–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Levit GS, Simunek M, Hoßfeld U (2008b) Psychoontogeny and psychophylogeny: the selectionist turn of Bernhard Rensch (1900–1990) through the prism of panpsychistic identism. Theory Biosci 127:297–322PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Levit GS, Hoßfeld U, Witt U (2011) Can Darwinism be “generalized” and of what use would this be? J Evol Econ 21:545–562CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Mayr E (1982) The growth of biological thought: diversity evolution and inheritance. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  49. Mayr E (1991) One long argument: Charles Darwin and the genesis of modern evolutionary thought. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  50. Mayr E (1997) The objects of selection. PNAS 94:2091–2094PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Mayr E (1999) Thoughts on the evolutionary synthesis in Germany. In: Junker T, Engels E-M (eds) Die Entstehung der Synthetischen Theorie: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Evolutionsbiologie in Deutschland. Verlag für Wiss. und Bildung, Berlin, 19–30Google Scholar
  52. Mayr E, Provine WB (eds) (1980) The evolutionary synthesis. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  53. McShea D (2005) The evolution of complexity without natural selection, a possible large-scale trend of the fourth kind. Paleobiology 31(2):146–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Miller J (2001) The mating mind. Anchor books edition, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  55. Monroe MJ, Bokma F (2010) Punctuated equilibrium in a neontological context. Theory Biosci 129:103–111PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Nägeli CV (1884) Mechanisch-physiologische Theorie der Abstammungslehre. Verlag von R. Oldenbourg, München & LeipzigGoogle Scholar
  57. Nordenskiöld E (1928) The history of biology. Tudor Publishing, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  58. Olsson L, Levit GS, Hossfeld U (2010) Evolutionary developmental biology: its concepts and history with a focus on Russian and German contributions. Naturwissenschaften 97:951–969PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Osborn HF (1926) Book review: nomogenesis or evolution determined by law. Nature 30:617–618CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Pigliucci M (2007) Do we need an extended evolutionary synthesis? Evolution 61–12:2743–2749CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Pigliucci M, Müller G (2010) Evolution—the extended synthesis. MIT, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  62. Plate L (1913) Selektionsprinzip und Probleme der Artbildung. Ein Handbuch des Darwinismus. 4. Auflage. Verlag von Wilhelm Engelmann, Leipzig und Berlin.Google Scholar
  63. Reif WE (1993) Afterword. In: Reif WE, Schindewolf OH (eds) Basic questions in paleontology. Geologic time, organic evolution, and biological systematics. Chicago University Press, Chicago, pp 435–454Google Scholar
  64. Reif WE (2000) Darwinism, gradualism and uniformitarianism. N Jb Geol Paläont 11:669–680Google Scholar
  65. Reif WE, Junker T, Hoßfeld U (2000) The synthetic theory of evolution: general problems and the German contribution to the synthesis. Theory Biosci 119:41–91Google Scholar
  66. Rensch B (1929) Das Prinzip geographischer Rassenkreise und das Problem der Artbildung. Verlag von Gebrüder Borntraeger, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  67. Rensch B (1934) Umwelt und Artbildung. Unterrichtsblätter für Mathematik und Naturwissenschaften 40:151–154Google Scholar
  68. Rensch B (1980) Historical development of the present synthetic neo-Darwinism in Germany. In: Mayr E, Provine WB (eds) The evolutionary synthesis. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp 284–302Google Scholar
  69. Richards R (2008) The tragic sense of life: Ernst Haeckel and the struggle over evolutionary thought. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  70. Rieppel O (2011) Karl Beurlen (1901–1985), nature mysticism, and Aryan paleontology. J Hist Biol. doi:10.1007/s10739-011-9283-7
  71. Romanes GJ (1895) Darwin and after Darwin: post-Darwinian questions: Heredity and utility. University of Chicago Press, The Open Court Publishing Company, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  72. Rubinoff D, Le Roux JJ (2008) Evidence of repeated and independent saltational evolution in a peculiar genus of sphinx moths (Proserpinus: Sphingidae). PLoS One 3(12):1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Schindewolf OH (1936) Paläontologie, Entwicklungslehre und Genetik. Kritik und Synthese. Bornträger, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  74. Schindewolf OH (1962) Neue Systematik. Palaeontologische Zeitschrift 36:59–78Google Scholar
  75. Schindewolf OH (1964) Erdgeschichte und Weltgeschichte. Abh Akad Wiss U Lit math-nat Kl 2:53–104Google Scholar
  76. Simpson GG (1949) The meaning of evolution. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  77. Theissen G (2006) The proper place of hopeful monsters in evolutionary biology. Theory Biosci 125(3–4):349–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Theissen G (2009) Saltational evolution: hopeful monsters are here to stay. Theory Biosci 128:43–51PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. von Wettstein R (1903) Der Neo-Lamarckismus und seine Beziehungen zum Darwinismus. Gustav Fischer Verlag, JenaGoogle Scholar
  80. Vromen J (2008) Ontological issues in evolutionary economics: the debate between generalized Darwinism and the continuity hypothesis. Papers on economics and evolution # 0805, Max Planck Institute of Economics, JenaGoogle Scholar
  81. Vromen J (2010) Generalized Darwinism in evolutionary economics: the devil is in the details. Papers on economics and evolution N0711. https://papers.econ.mpg.de/evo/discussionpapers/2007-11.pdf
  82. Wimsatt WC, Schank JC (1988) Two constraints on the evolution of complex adaptations and the means for their avoidance. In: Nitecki M (ed) Progress in evolution. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 213–273Google Scholar
  83. Winther RG (2000) Darwin on variation and heredity. J Hist Biol 33:425–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Witt U (2003) The evolving economy. Essays on the evolutionary approach to economics. Edward Elgar, CheltenhamGoogle Scholar
  85. Witt U (2004) On the proper interpretation of ‘evolution’ in economics and its implications for production theory. J Econ Methodol 11(2):125–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Witt U (2008) What is specific about evolutionary economics? J Evol Econ 18:547–575CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Zavarzin GA (1979) The space of logical possibilities in the diversity of bacteria and their phylogenies. Priroda 6:9–19 (in Russian)Google Scholar
  88. Zavarzin GA (2000) The non-Darwinian domain of evolution. Her Russ Acad Sci 70(3):252–259Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of King’s CollegeHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.AG BiodidacticsFSU JenaJenaGermany

Personalised recommendations