Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 479–504 | Cite as

The Evolutionary Structure of Scientific Theories

  • John S. Wilkins


David Hull's (1988c) model of science as a selection process suffers from a two-fold inability: (a) to ascertain when a lineage of theories has been established; i.e., when theories are descendants of older theories or are novelties, and what counts as a distinct lineage; and (b) to specify what the scientific analogue is of genotype and phenotype. This paper seeks to clarify these issues and to propose an abstract model of theories analogous to particulate genetic structure, in order to reconstruct relationships of descent and identity.

Dawkins Hull meme gene species theory selection semantic 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Axelrod, R.: 1981, 'The Emergence of Cooperation Among Egoists', American Political Science Review 75.Google Scholar
  2. Axelrod, R.: 1984, The Evolution of Cooperation, Basic Books.Google Scholar
  3. Becker, P.H.: 1993, 'Common Pitfalls in Published Grounded Theory Research', Qualitative Health Research 32.Google Scholar
  4. Callebaut, W. and Pinxten, R. (eds.): 1987, Evolutionary Epistemology, A Multiparadigm Approach, D. Reidel.Google Scholar
  5. Collier, J.: 1988, 'Supervenience and Reduction in Biological Hierarchies', Canadian Journal of Philosophy Supplementary 14, 209–234.Google Scholar
  6. Dawkins, R.: 1977, The Selfish Gene, Oxford University Press (1989 edition).Google Scholar
  7. Dawkins, R.: 1982, The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene, Oxford University Press, revised 1989.Google Scholar
  8. Dawkins, R.: 1986, The Blind Watchmaker, Longman Scientific and Technical.Google Scholar
  9. Dawkins, R.: 1995, River Out of Eden, Weidenfeld and Nicolson.Google Scholar
  10. Dawkins, R.: 1996, Climbing Mount Improbable, Viking Press.Google Scholar
  11. Dennett, D.C.: 1995, Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life, Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  12. Desmond, A. and Moore, J.: 1991, Darwin, Michael Joseph.Google Scholar
  13. Dyke, C.: 1988, The Evolutionary Dynamics of Complex Systems: A Study in Biosocial Complexity, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Eldredge, N.: 1985, Time Frames: The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution and the Theory of Punctuated Equilibria, Heinemann. Includes Eldredge and Gould 1972.Google Scholar
  15. Eldredge, N.: 1989, Macroevolutionary Dynamics: Species, Niches, and Adaptive Peaks, McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  16. Eldredge, N.: 1995, Reinventing Darwin: The Great Evolutionary Debate, Weidenfeld and Nicholson.Google Scholar
  17. Eldredge, N. and Gould, S.: 1972, 'Punctuated Equilibria: An Alternative to Phyletic Gradualism', in T. Schopf (ed.), Models in Paleobiology, Freeman, Cooper & Co. (Also in Eldredge 1985)Google Scholar
  18. Ellis, B.: 1979, Rational Belief Systems, Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  19. Ereshefsky, M.: 1991, 'The Semantic Approach to Evolutionary Theory', Biology and Philosophy 6: 59–80.Google Scholar
  20. Fisher, R.A.: 1930, The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection, Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  21. van Fraassen, B.: 1970, 'On the Extension of Beth's Semantics in Physical Theories', Philosophy of Science 37: 325–339.Google Scholar
  22. van Fraassen, B.: 1980, The Scientific Image, Clarendon.Google Scholar
  23. Garfinkel, A.: 1981, Forms of Explanation: Rethinking the Questions in Social Theory, Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Ghiselin, M.T.: 1969, The Triumph of the Darwinian Method, 1984 University of Chicago Press reprint with new preface.Google Scholar
  25. Glaser, B.G.: 1978, Theoretical Sensitivity, Sociology Press.Google Scholar
  26. Gould, S.J.: 1983, Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History, Norton.Google Scholar
  27. Hamilton, W.D.: 1964, 'The Genetical Theory of Social Behaviour: I and II', Journal of Theoretical Biology 7: 1–52.Google Scholar
  28. Hardin, R.: 1971, 'Collective Action as an Agreeable n-Prisoners' Dilemma', Behavioral Science 16.Google Scholar
  29. Hardin, R.: 1982, Collective Action, John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Heyes, C.: 1988, 'Are Scientists Agents in Scientific Change?', Biology and Philosophy 3: 194–199.Google Scholar
  31. Hull, D.L.: 1980, 'Individuality and Selection', Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 11: 311–332.Google Scholar
  32. Hull, D.L.: 1988a, 'A Mechanism and its Metaphysics: An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science', Biology and Philosophy 3: 125–155.Google Scholar
  33. Hull, D.L.: 1988b, 'A Period of Development: A Response', Biology and Philosophy 3: 241–263.Google Scholar
  34. Hull, D.L.: 1988c, Science as a Process: An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science, University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  35. Kuhn, T.S.: 1977a, 'Second Thoughts on Paradigms', in Suppe 1977. Also in Kuhn 1977b.Google Scholar
  36. Kuhn, T.S.: 1977b, The Essential Tension: Selected Studies In Scientific Tradition and Change, University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  37. Lloyd, E.A.: 1989, The Structure and Confirmation of Evolutionary Theory, Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  38. Lumsden, C.J. and Wilson, E.O.: 1981, Genes, Mind, and Culture: The Coevolutionary Process, Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Maynard Smith, J.: 1983, Evolution and the Theory of Games, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Mayr, E.: 1982, The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution and Inheritance, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Mosterin, J.: 1988, 'Ontological Queries and Evolutionary Processes. Comments on Hull', Biology and Philosophy 3: 204–209.Google Scholar
  42. Munévar, G.: 1988, 'Hull, Straight Biology, and Straight Epistemology', Biology and Philosophy 3: 209–214.Google Scholar
  43. Nitecki, M.H. (ed.): 1988, Evolutionary Progress, University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  44. Osgood, C., Suci, G. and Tannenbaum, P.: 1967, The Measurement of Meaning, University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  45. Oyama, S.: 1985, The Ontogeny of Information: Developmental Systems and Evolution, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Panchen, A.L.: 1992, Classification, Evolution, and the Nature of Biology, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Plotkin, H.C.: 1994, The Nature of Knowledge: Concerning Adaptations, Instinct and the Evolution of Intelligence, Penguin; also published as Darwin Machines and the Nature of Knowledge, Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Prigogine, I. and Stengers, I.: 1985, Order Out of Chaos: Man's New Dialogue with Nature, Fontana.Google Scholar
  49. Quine, W.V.: 1969a, Ontological Relativity and Other Essays, Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Quine, W.V.: 1969b, 'Epistemology Naturalized', in Quine 1969a.Google Scholar
  51. Quine, W.V.: 1969c, ''Natural Kinds', in Quine 1969a.Google Scholar
  52. Radnitzky, G.: 1982, 'Analytic Philosophy as the Confrontation between Wittgensteinians and Popper', Scientific Philosophy Today, Essays in Honor of Mario Bunge, Reidel.Google Scholar
  53. Radnitzky, G. and Bartley, W.W. III (eds.): 1987, Evolutionary Epistemology, Rationality, and the Sociology of Knowledge, Open Court.Google Scholar
  54. Richards, R.J.: 1987, Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior, University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  55. Richards, R.J.: 1992, The Meaning of Evolution: The Morphological Construction and Ideological Reconstruction of Darwin's Theory, University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  56. Ruse, M.: 1989, The Darwinian Paradigm: Essays on its History, Philosophy, and Religious Implications, Routledge.Google Scholar
  57. Scott-Ram, N.R.: 1990, Transformed Cladistics, Taxonomy, and Evolution, Cambridge University press.Google Scholar
  58. Simpson, G.: 1944, Tempo and Mode in Evolution, Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Smith, C.U.M.: 1988, 'Send Reinforcements We're Going to Advance', Biology and Philosophy 3: 214–217.Google Scholar
  60. Sober, E.: 1981, 'Revisability, A Priori Truth, and Evolution', Australasian Journal of Philosophy 59: 86–91.Google Scholar
  61. Sober, E.: 1984, The Nature of Selection, MIT Press (1985 reprint with amendments).Google Scholar
  62. Sterelny, K.: 1995: 'Understanding Life: Recent Work in Philosophy of Biology', British Journal of the Philosophy of Science 46: 155–183.Google Scholar
  63. Strauss, A.L.: 1987, Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  64. Suppe, F. (ed.): 1977, The Structure of Scientific Theories, second edition, University of Illinois Press. (Includes Kuhn's "second Thoughts')Google Scholar
  65. Suppe, F.: 1977a, 'Introduction', to Suppe (ed.) 1977. Corrected version of the 1973 introduction to the first edition.Google Scholar
  66. Suppe, F.: 1977b, 'Afterword – 1977', in Suppe (ed.) 1977.Google Scholar
  67. Suppe, F.: 1989, The Semantic Conception of Theories and Scientific Realism, University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  68. Tennant, N.: 1988, 'Theories, Concepts and Rationality in an Evolutionary Account of Science', Biology and Philosophy 3: 224–231.Google Scholar
  69. Toulmin, S.: 1970, 'Does the Distinction Between Normal and Revolutionary Science Hold Water?', in Lakatos and Musgrave 1970.Google Scholar
  70. Tulloch, G.: 1972, Towards a Mathematics of Politics, University Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  71. Weber, B.H, Depew, D.J. and Smith, J.D.: 1988, Entropy, Information and Evolution: New Perspectives on Physical and Biological Evolution, MIT Press.Google Scholar
  72. Wiley, E.O.: 1988, 'Entropy and Evolution', in Weber and others 1988.Google Scholar
  73. Wiley, E.O., Siegel-Causey, D., Brooks, D.R. and Funk, V.A.: 1991, The Compleat Cladist: A Primer of Phylogenetic Procedures, The University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History, Special Publication No. 19.Google Scholar
  74. Williams, G.C.: 1966, Adaptation and Natural Selection: A Critique of Some Current Evolutionary Thought, Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Williams, G.C.: 1992, Natural Selection: Domains, Levels, and Challenges, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  76. Wittgenstein, L.: 1922, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1961 translation by D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuiness, Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • John S. Wilkins
    • 1
  1. 1.Mt MarthaAustralia E-mail

Personalised recommendations