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The Modern Synthesis

Evolution and the Organization of Information

  • Focuses on recent debates about the Modern Synthesis and its deficits

  • Lays out the General Darwinian theory of evolution and the Special Theory

  • Also includes aspects the history of the various forms of the evolutionary theory

Part of the book series: Evolutionary Biology – New Perspectives on Its Development (EBNPD, volume 4)

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eBook USD 129.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-86422-4
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
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Hardcover Book USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

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Table of contents (9 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xvii
  2. Introduction

    • Thomas E. Dickins
    Pages 1-23
  3. Darwinian Evolution

    • Thomas E. Dickins
    Pages 25-49
  4. The Modern Synthesis

    • Thomas E. Dickins
    Pages 51-79
  5. Causation

    • Thomas E. Dickins
    Pages 81-105
  6. Data and Information

    • Thomas E. Dickins
    Pages 107-132
  7. Evolution and Development

    • Thomas E. Dickins
    Pages 133-156
  8. Epigenetics

    • Thomas E. Dickins
    Pages 157-182
  9. Niche Construction Theory

    • Thomas E. Dickins
    Pages 183-204
  10. Evolution and the Developmental Challenge

    • Thomas E. Dickins
    Pages 205-234
  11. Back Matter

    Pages 235-239

About this book

This book is about evolutionary theory. It deals with aspects of its history to focus upon explanatory structures at work in the various forms of evolutionary theory - as such this is also a work of philosophy. Its focus lies on recent debates about the Modern Synthesis and what might be lacking in that synthesis. These claims have been most clearly made by those calling for an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis. The author argues that the difference between these two positions is the consequence of two things. First, whether evolution is a considered as solely a population level phenomenon or also a theory of form.  Second, the use of information concepts.

In this book Darwinian evolution is positioned as a general theory of evolution, a theory that gave evolution a technical meaning as the statistical outcome of variation, competition, and inheritance. The Modern Synthesis (MS) within biology, has a particular focus, a particular architecture to its explanations that renders it a special theory of evolution.

After providing a history of Darwinian theory and the MS, recent claims and exhortations for an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES) are examined that see the need for the inclusion of non-genetic modes of inheritance and also developmental processes.  Much of this argument is based around claims that the MS adopts a particular view of information that has privileged the gene as an instructional unit in the emergence of form.  The author analyses the uses of information and claims that neither side of the debate explicitly and formally deals with this concept. A more formal view of information is provided which challenges the EES claims about the role of genes in MS explanations of form whilst being consilient with their own interests in developmental biology. It is concluded that the MS implicitly assumed this formal view of information whilst using information terms in a colloquial manner. In the final chapter the idea that the MS is an informational theory that acts to corral more specific phenomenal accounts, is mooted.  As such the book argues for a constrained pluralism within biology, where the MS describes those constraints.

Keywords

  • Extent of the Modern Synthesis
  • Extended Evolutionary Synthesis
  • evolutionary theory
  • Modern Synthesis
  • extended synthesis
  • Darwinian evolution
  • Standard Evolutionary Theory
  • SET
  • EES
  • General Darwinism
  • General Theory Darwinism
  • Special Theory Darwinism
  • Evolution

Authors and Affiliations

  • Department of Psychology, Middlesex University, London, UK

    Thomas E. Dickins

About the author

Tom Dickins is professor of behavioural science at Middlesex University and a research associate at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science at the London School of Economics. His background is in the behavioural sciences, but also the history and philosophy of science.  His principal interests lie in behavioural biology.  When not working he is to be found watching birds in the ancient woodlands and rugged coastlines of the United Kingdom.

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

eBook USD 129.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-86422-4
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)