Using the Burgess Shale controversies as a case-study, this paper argues that controversies within different domains may interact as to create a situation of “com- plicated intricacies,” where the practicing scientist has to navigate through a context of multiple thought collectives. To some extent each of these collectives has its own dynamic complete with fairly negotiated standards for investigation and explanation, theoretical background assumptions and certain peculiarities of practice. But the intellectual development in one of these collectives may “spill over” having far reaching consequences for the treatment of apparently independent epistemic problems that are subject of investigation in other thought collectives. For the practicing scientist it is necessary to take this complex web of interactions into account in order to be able to navigate in such a situation. So far most studies of academic science have had a tendency to treat the practicing scientist as members of a single (enclosed) thought collective that stands intellectually isolated from other similar entities unless the discipline was in a state of crisis of paradigmatic proportions. The richness and complexity of Burgess Shale debate shows that this encapsulated kind of analysis is not enough.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Baron, Christian. 2009. “Epistemic Values in the Burgess Shale Debate.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 40: 286–295.
Bowler, Peter J. 1983. The Eclipse of Darwinism: Anti-Darwinian Evolution Theories in the Decades Around 1900. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press.
Briggs, Derek E.G. 1978. “The Morphology, Mode of Life, and Affinities of Canadaspis perfecta (Crustacea, Phyllocarida), Middle Cambrian, Burgess Shale, British Columbia.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 281: 439–487.
Briggs, Derek E.G. 1990. “Early Arthropods: Dampening the Cambrian Explosion.” Paleobiology 3: 24–43.
Briggs, Derek E.G. and Fortey, Richard. 1989. “The Early Radiation and Relationships of Major Arthropod Groups.” Science 246: 241–243.
Briggs, Derek E.G., Fortey, Richard and Wills, Matthew A. 1992a. “Morphological Disparity in the Cambrian.” Science 256: 1670–1673.
Briggs, Derek E.G., Fortey, Richard, and Wills, Matthew A. 1992b. “Cambrian and Recent Morphological Disparity [Reply to Foote and Gould. 1992].” Science 258: 1817–1818.
Briggs, Derek E.G., Erwin, Douglas H. and Collier, Frederick J. 1994. The Fossils of the Burgess Shale. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Brysse, Keynyn. 2008. “From Weird Wonders to Stem Lineages: The Second Reclassification of the Burgess Shale Fauna.” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 39: 298–313.
Chen, J.Y., Oliveri, P., Li, C.W., Zhou, G.Q., Gao, F., Hagadorn, J.W., Peterson, K.J. and Davidson, E.H. 2000. “Precambrian Animal Diversity: Putative Phosphatized Embryos from the Doushanto Formation of China.” Science 97: 4457–4462.
Collins, H. and Pinch, Trevor. 1993. The Golem: What Everyone Should Know About Science. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Conway Morris, Simon. 1976a. “Nectocaris peryx, a New Organism from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale of British Columbia.” Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie 12: 705–713.
Conway Morris, Simon. 1976b. “A New Cambrian Lophophorate from the Burgess Shale of British Columbia.” Palaeontology 19: 199–222.
Conway Morris, Simon. 1977a. “A Redescription of the Middle Cambrian Worm Amiskwia saggittiformis Walcott from the Burgess Shale of British Columbia.” Paläontologische Zeitschrift 51: 271–287.
Conway Morris, Simon. 1977b. “A New Metazoan from the Cambrian Burgess Shale of British Columbia.” Palaeontology 20: 623–640.
Conway Morris, Simon. 1977c. “A New Entoproct-Like Organism from the Burgess Shale of British Columbia.” Palaeontology 20: 833–845.
Conway Morris, Simon. 1979. “The Burgess Shale (Middle Cambrian) Fauna.” Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 10: 327–349.
Conway Morris, Simon. 1985a. “The Middle Cambrian Metazoan Wiwaxia corrugata (Matthew) from the Burgess Shale and Ogygopsis Shale, British Columbia, Canada.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 307: 507–586.
Conway Morris, Simon. 1985b. “Non-Skeletalized Lower Invertebrate Fossils: A Review.” S. Conway Morris, J.D. George, R. Gibson and H.M. Platt (eds.), The Origins and Relationships of Lower Invertebrates. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Conway Morris, Simon. 1986. “The Community Structure of the Middle Cambrian Phyllopod Bed (Burgess Shale).” Palaeontology 29: 423–467.
Conway Morris, Simon. 1989. “Burgess Shale Faunas and the Cambrian Explosion.” Science 246: 339–346.
Conway Morris, Simon. 1998. The Crucible of Creation: The Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals. Oxford:Oxford University Press.
Conway Morris, Simon and Whittington, Harry B. 1979. “The Animals of the Burgess Shale.” Scientific American 240: 122–133.
Conway Morris, Simon and Gould, Stephen J. 1998. “Showdown on the Burgess Shale.” Natural History Magazine 107(10): 48–55.
Darwin, Charles. 1859. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. London: John Murray.
Daston, Lorraine J. 1995. “The Moral Economy of Science.” Osiris 10: 3–24.
Eldredge, Niles. 1971. “The Allopatric Model and Phylogeny in Paleozoic Invertebrates.” Evolution 25: 156–167.
Eldredge, Niles and Gould, Stephen J. 1972. “Punctuated Equilibria: An Alternative to Phyletic Gradualism.” J.M. Schopf Thomas (ed.), Models in Paleobiology. San Francisco: Freeman, Cooper & Company, pp. 82–115.
Engelhardt, H. Tristram Jr. and Caplan, Arthur L. (eds.). 1987. Scientific Controversies: Case Studies in the Resolution and Closure of Disputes in Science and Technology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fleck, Ludwig. 1935/1979. Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact. London/Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Foote, Mike. 1993. “Discordance and Concordance Between Morphological and Taxonomic Diversity.” Paleobiology 19: 185–204.
Foote, Mike and Gould, Stephen J. 1992. ‘“Cambrian and Recent Morphological Disparity’ [Reply to Briggs et al. (1992a)].” Science 258: 1816.
Fortey, Richard. 1998. “Shock Lobsters: Book Review: The Crucible of Creation: The Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals” London Review of Books 20: 24–25.
Fortey, Richard, Briggs, Derek E.G. and Wills, Matthew A. 1996. “The Cambrian Evolutionary ‘Explosion’: Decoupling Cladogenesis from Morphological Disparity.” Biological Journal of Linnean Society 57: 13–33.
Fortey, Richard, Briggs, Derek E.G. and Wills, Matthew A. 1997. “The Cambrian Evolutionary ‘Explosion’ Recalibrated.” BioEssay 19: 429–434.
Foucault, Michel. 1966/1994. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of Human Sciences. New York: Vintage Books.
Gingerich, Philip D. 1974. “Stratigragraphic Record of Early Eocene Hyopsodus and the Geometry of Mammalian Phylogeny.” Nature 248: 107–109.
Gingerich, Philip D. 1976. “Paleontology and Phylogeny: Patterns of Evolution at the Species Level in Early Tertiary Mammals.” American Journal of Science 276: 1–28.
Glaessner, Martin F. 1984. The Dawn of Animal Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gould, Stephen J. 1980a. “Is a New and General Theory of Evolution Emerging?” Paleobiology 6: 119–130.
Gould, Stephen J. 1980b. “The Promise of Paleobiology as a Nomothetic Discipline.” Paleobiology 6: 96–118.
Gould, Stephen J. 1989. Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History. New York: W. W Norton & Company.
Gould, Stephen J. 1991. “The Disparity of the Burgess Shale Arthropod Fauna and the Limits of Cladistic Analysis: Why We Must Strive to Quantify Morphospace.” Paleobiology 17: 411–423.
Gould, Stephen J. 1993. “How to Analyse the Burgess Shale Disparity – A Reply to Ridley.” Paleobiology 19: 522–523.
Gould, Stephen J. 2002. The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Gould, Stephen J. and Eldredge, Niles. 1977. “Punctuated Equilibria: The Tempo and Mode of Evolution Reconsidered.” Paleobiology 3: 115–151.
Gould, S.J. and Lewontin, R.C. 1979. “The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme.” Proceedings of the Royal Society London Series B 205: 581–598.
Hacking, Ian. 2002. Historical Ontology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Hennig, Willi. 1966. Phylogenetic Systematics. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.
House, M.R. 1979. “Discussion on Origin of Major Invertebrate Groups.” M.R. House (ed.), The Origin of Major Invertebrate Groups. London: Academic Press Inc., pp. 479–494.
Hull, David L. 1988. Science as a Process: An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Kuhn, Thomas S. 1962. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Lee, Michael S.Y. 1992. “‘Cambrian and Recent Morphological Disparity’ [Reply to Briggs et al. (1992a)].” Science 258: 1816.
Lewontin, Richard C. 1974. The Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change. New York/London: Columbia University Press.
Lloyd, Elisabeth A. and Gould, Stephen J. 1993. “Species Selection on Variability.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 90: 595–599.
Manton, Sidnie M. 1977. The Arthropoda: Habits, Functional Morphology and Evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Manton, Sidnie M. and Anderson, Donald T. 1979. “Polyphyly and the Evolution of the Arthropods.” M.R. House (ed.), The Origin of Major Invertebrate Groups. London: Academic Press Inc., pp. 269–321.
Mayr, Ernst. 1954. “Change of Genetic Environment and Evolution.” A.C. Julian Huxley and E.B. Ford Hardy (eds.), Evolution as a Process. London: Allen & Unwin, pp. 157–180.
Mayr, Ernst. 1963. Animal Species and Evolution. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press.
Newman, Stuart A. and Müller, Gerd B. 2006. “Genes and Form: Inherency in the Evolution of Developmental Mechanisms.” E.M. Neumann-Held and C. Rehmann-Sutter (eds.), Genes in Development: Re-Reading the Molecular Paradigm. Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 38–73.
Ramsköld, Lars and Hou, Xianguang. 1991. “New Early Cambrian Animal and Onychophoran Affinities of Enigmatic Metazoans.” Nature 351: 225–228.
Raup, David and Gould, Stephen J. 1974. “Stochastic Simulation and Evolution of Morphology: Towards a Nomothetic Paleontology.” Systematic Zoology 23: 525–542.
Ridley, Mark. 1993. “Analysis of the Burgess Shale.” Paleobiology 19: 519–521.
Ridley, Mark. 1996. Evolution, 2nd edn. London: Blackwell Science, Inc.
Rowland, Stephen M. 2001. “Archaeocyaths – a History of Phylogenetic Interpretation.” Journal of Paleontology 75(6): 1065–1078.
Rudwick, Martin. 1985. The Great Devonian Controversy: The Shaping of Scientific Knowledge Among Gentlemanly Specialists. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Ruse, Michael. 2000. “The Theory of Punctuated Equilibria: Taking Apart a Scientific Controversy.” P. Machamer, M. Pera and A. Baltas (eds.), Scientific Controversies: Philosophical and Historical Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 231–253.
Schopf, Thomas J.M. 1972. “Introduction: About This Book.” J.M. Schopf Thomas (ed.), Models in Paleobiology. San Francisco: Freeman, Cooper & Company, pp. 3–7.
Schram, Frederick R. 1993. “The British School: Calman, Cannon and Manton and Their Effect on Carcinology in the English Speaking World.” Frederick R. Schram and F. Truesdale (eds.), Crustacean Issues 8: History of Carcinology. Rotterdam: A.A. Balkema, pp. 321–348.
Schuh, Randall T. 2000. Biological Systematics: Principles and Applications. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Seilacher, Adolf. 1984. “Late Precambrian Metazoa: Preservational or Real Extinctions?” H.D. Holland and A.F. Trendall (eds.), Patterns of Change in Earth Evolution. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, pp. 159–168.
Segerstråle, Ullica. 2000. Defenders of the Truth: The Battle for Science in the Sociobiology Debate and Beyond. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Seilacher, Adolf, Bose, Pradip K. and Pflüger, Fridriech. 1998. “Triploblastic Animals: More Than 1 Billion Years Ago: Trace Fossil Evidence from India.” Science 282: 80–83.
Sepkoski, David. 2005. “Stephen Jay Gould, Jack Sepkoski and the ‘Quantitative Revolution’ in American Paleontology.” Journal of History of Biology 38: 209–237.
Shapin, Steven and Schaffer, Simon. 1985. Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle and the Experimental Life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Stanley, Steven M. 1975. “A Theory of Evolution Above the Species Level.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 72: 560–646.
Stanley, Steven M. 1979. Macroevolution: Pattern and Process. San Francisco, CA: W. H. Freeman and Company.
Suárez-Díaz, Edna and Anaya-Munoz, Victor H. 2008. “History, Objectivity, and the Construction of Molecular Phylogenies.” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 39: 451–468.
Turney, Jon. 1987. “Thatcher Plans to Do More With Less.” The Scientist 1(16): 4.
Walsh, John. 1970. “Budget Cuts Prompt Closer Look at the System.” Science 168: 802–805.
Whittington, Harry B. 1975. “The Enigmatic Animal Opabinia regalis, Middle Cambrian, Burgess Shale, British Columbia.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 271: 1–43.
Whittington, Harry B. 1978. “The Lobopod Animal Aysheaia pedunculata Walcott, Middle Cambrian, Burgess Shale, British Columbia.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 284: 165–197.
Whittington, Harry B. 1979. “Early Arthropods, Their Appendages and Relationships.” M.R. House (ed.), The Origin of Major Invertebrate Groups. London: Academic Press Inc., pp. 253–268.
Whittington, Harry B. 1980. “The Significance of the Fauna of the Burgess Shale, Middle Cambrian, British Columbia.” Proceedings of the Geologists Association 91: 127–148.
Whittington, Harry B. 1985. The Burgess Shale. London: Yale University Press.
Williams, David M. and Forey, Peter L. 2004. Milestones in Systematics. Boca Raton: Routledge.
Wills, Matthew A., Briggs, Derek E.G. and Fortey, Richard. 1994. “Disparity as an Evolutionary Index: A Comparison of Cambrian and Recent Arthropods.” Paleobiology 20: 93–130.
Wilson, Edward O. 1975. Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Cambridge, MA/London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Xiao, Shuhai, Yuan, Xunlai and Knoll, Andrew H. 2000. “Eumetazoan Fossils in Terminal Proterozoic Phosphorites?” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 97: 13684–13689.
Ziman, John. 2000. Real Science: What it is, and What it Means. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
About this article
Cite this article
Baron, C. A Web of Controversies: Complexity in the Burgess Shale Debate. J Hist Biol 44, 745–780 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10739-010-9248-2
- Burgess Shale
- controversy interaction
- weird wonders