History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 335–338 | Cite as

Francesca Merlin, Mutations et aléas. Le hasard dans la théorie de l’évolution

Paris: Hermann, 2013, 272 p., € 26,00
  • Christian Sachse
Book Review

Genetic variation is generally taken to occur at random and to be required for natural selection to play a role in evolutionary change. No variation, no selection. However, genetic variation may not suffice and evolutionary changes instead result from random drift. Such cases can thus be seen as doubly random—in the sense that they concern both genetic variation and what is inherited. Rather than going into this classical debate, Francesca Merlin’s Mutations et aléas focuses on the opposite and very recently intensified attack on the Modern Synthesis’ theory of evolution, namely: the claim that natural selection somehow worked so well that genetic variation does not always occur at random anymore. More precisely, empirical data seem to suggest that some mutation mechanisms are specific, which roughly means that mutations are provoked in the genome where and when needed for increasing survival and reproduction chances; and it is furthermore speculated that some mutations are even directed...

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section de philosophie, Faculté des lettresUniversité de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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