Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 39–54 | Cite as

Retelling Experiments: H.B.D. Kettlewell's Studies of Industrial Melanism in Peppered Moths

  • Joel B. Hagen


H. B. D. Kettlewell's field experiments on industrial melanism in the peppered moth, Biston betularia, have become the best known demonstration of natural selection in action. I argue that textbook accounts routinely portray this research as an example of controlled experimentation, even though this is historically misleading. I examine how idealized accounts of Kettlewell's research have been used by professional biologists and biology teachers. I also respond to some criticisms of David Rudge to my earlier discussions of this case study, and I question Rudge's claims about the importance of purely observational studies for the eventual acceptance and popularization of Kettlewell's explanation for the evolution of industrial melanism.

experiment evolution industrial melanism natural selection 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joel B. Hagen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyRadford UniversityRadfordU.S.A. E-mail

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