HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENCE W3201Y
HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY
LECTURE SYLLABUS ‑ SPRING 2008
ROOM: 327 Mudd; Monday –Wednesday 1:10 – 3:00 PM
Week 1 ‑‑ Jan 23: DEFINITION AND SCOPE OF EVOLUTIONARY THEORY:
Introductory remarks; Scope of the course; Readings, term papers.
The importance of words, concepts and definitions will be stressed; Poverty of pluralism.
Definition of evolution, discussion of alternative definitions, transformational versus populational (= variational) evolution.
Definition and limits of science; Use of objective empirical observations as tests of hypotheses.
What is metaphysics? And what is its role in evolutionary biology?
Evolution versus phylogeny (history of life); Meanings of phylogeny.
Concepts in science, in biology.
Week 2 ‑‑ Jan 28: DEFINITION AND SCOPE OF EVOLUTIONARY THEORY (CONT):
Types of evolutionary change – phylogenetic change versus speciation (multiplication of lineages); species versus phyletic lineages.
Survey of basic evolutionary theory. Darwin’s five theories.
Areas of evolutionary biology; nomological - versus historical - evolutionary theory.
Explanations, concepts, theories, objective empirical observations, tests, research programs, verification versus falsification, failed explanations versus failed theories.
Types of population evolution – biological, cultural and template evolution.
What is the “bottom -line” in evolutionary theory?
Social Darwinism; relationship between science and moral/political ideas; Evolutionary ethics
Relationship between evolutionary and philosophical ideas; Evolutionary epistemology.
Evolutionary theory versus (scientific) creationism; Intellectual design. Are these areas scientific, or what?
Readings: Darwin On the Origin of Species; Mayr (H = Growth), Ch. 1, 2, 20; Mayr
(P = Philosophy), Ch. 1, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15; Bowler, Ch. 1, 2.
Week 3 ‑‑ Feb 4: PHILOSOPHICAL CONCEPTS IN EVOLUTIONARY THEORY:
Explanatory systems in biology, and in science.
Nomological‑deductive versus historical‑narrative explanations, evolutionary versus functional explanations; overlap between the two systems; nomological versus historical evolutionary theories.
Definitions, explanations and testing in evolutionary biology.
Causes, processes and outcomes (results) as nomological‑deductive laws.
Is genetics the core of evolutionary theory? Absolutely important roles of the external environment.
Systems of explanations in evolutionary biology; functional versus evolutionary explanations; nomological‑deductive versus historical‑narrative explanations.
Historical‑narrative explanations; The role of initial and boundary conditions; relationship to nomological explanations; limitations.
Full versus partial explanations in biology, What makes sense in biological explanations? Evolutionary Medicine; Evolutionary psychology.
Readings: Mayr (H), Ch. 2, 3.
Week 4 ‑‑ Feb 11: PHILOSOPHICAL CONCEPTS (CONT.):
Laws in science versus determinism in scientific explanation; "cranes versus sky‑hooks".
The nature of evolutionary laws; Do they exist; What constitutes an evolutionary law?
Historical laws in evolution; Do they exist?
Do laws (law‑like statements) exist in science, in biology; What are law‑like statements and how are they used? How are law-like statements used in historical scientific explanations?
Proximal versus ultimate causation (= explanations ?); Different (= dual) causations in biology.
Accident versus design in evolution; what constitutes accidents and what is design?
Multiple meanings of design; Relationship to requirements of selective demands arising from the external environment.
Process with an accidental cause ans a design cause will always have an accidental outcome.
Importance to any ideas of “intelligent design”.
Populational versus typological thinking.
Essentialistic concepts in science, in biology and in evolution. Typology; Fussy groups.
The "higgledy‑piggledy" theory of evolution versus structuralism and other forms of strictly internal causes of evolutionary change.
Order and progress in evolution
Readings: Mayr (P), Ch. 2.
Week 5 ‑‑ Feb 18: PHILOSOPHICAL CONCEPTS (CONT.):
Principles of comparisons – horizontal versus vertical comparisons; Extrapolation of conclusions between diverse types of comparisons.
Individuals, groups and classes; What are individuals in biology?; Are species individuals?; Are higher taxa individuals? What are historical individuals?
Concepts of groups, typological versus non-typological groups, ideas about essences or characteristics of groups.
The organism in evolution; Is there a theory of the organism? Concepts of structionalism.
Hierarchies in biology; Deductive laws in hierarchies; Extrapolation between levels; Holism versus reductionism; Analysis of reductionism. Reductionism versus holism; Methods of scientific analysis, both for functional and evolutionary biology.
Readings: Mayr (P), Ch. 19, 20.
Week 6 ‑‑ Feb 25: CAUSAL MECHANISMS IN EVOLUTION:
Phylogenetic lineages; Phyletic evolutionary changes; Causes and outcomes of phyletic evolutionary change.
Concepts of natural selection, fitness, suitability; Natural selection versus selective demands.
Natural selection, and its possible causes; Selective demands as a causal agent; Adaptation (survival features versus reproductive features); The adaptational program.
What is a research strategy? Adaptational program as a research strsgety.
Teleological explanations in evolution; Goal directed behavior.
Microevolution and macroevolution.
Relationship between ontogenetic and evolutionary changes; Evo-Devo concepts as causes.
Other mechanisms of phylogenetic evolutionary change.
Readings: Bowler, Ch. 9; Mayr (P), Ch. 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 23, 25, 26.
Week 7 ‑‑ March 3: CAUSAL MECHANISMS (CONT.):
The species concept and speciation. Are there special causes of speciation.
History of the species concept; the concept versus the definition versus the taxon.
The biological species concept; The three diverse properties of the species and their evolution.
Consequences of the "non-dimensional species" for evolutionary theory.
The species concept versus the species category versus the species taxon.
The concept of geographical races, Races versus racism (sexes versus sexism).
Application of the species concept; Recognition of species taxa; Species in time and space.
Evolution within the species versus evolution beyond the species limit.
Horizontal versus vertical evolution?
Readings: Mayr (H), Ch. 6; Mayr (P), Ch. 21, 22, 24.
Week 7 ‑‑ March 10: PRE‑DARWINIAN PERIOD ‑‑ FROM 1750 TO 1859:
The basic philosophical ideas in pre‑Darwinian biology (typological essentialism).
Treatment of individual variation; Other forms of variation; Variation versus variety.
Change from the concept that everything is static to that all things change over time.
Evolutionary concepts prior to 1859; A number existed, but not generally accepted
Historical survey of increase in biological knowledge underlying the development and acceptance of evolutionary theory.
Evolutionists and evolutionary theory before Darwin; Chambers’ "Vestiges"; Wallace’s 1855t paper.
Readings: Darwin; Mayr (H), Ch. 3, 7, 8; Mayr (P), Ch. 10, 11, 13; Bowler, Ch. 3, 4.
March 15 ‑ March 23: Spring Recess. Midterm paper due on March 26, 2008.
Week 9 ‑‑ March 24: DARWIN'S "ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES" 1859:
History of Darwin's studies and development of his "Origin".
Analysis of Darwin's five theories of evolution advocated in the "Origin".
Structure of Darwin's theory of Natural Selection and future confusions.
Problem of inheritance ‑‑ existing theories.
Consequences of evolutionary theory for biology, other sciences, human ideas.
Problem of creationism; early 19th century and mid 20th century versions.
Readings: Darwin (complete); Mayr (H), Ch. 9, 10; Mayr (P), Ch. 13, 14, 15; Bowler, Ch. 5, 6.
Week 10 ‑‑ March 31: ACCEPTANCE OF EVOLUTION VERSUS DARWINISM:
Examination of On the Origin of Species as a scientific argument.
Examination of previous theories of evolution; basis for non‑acceptance.
Consideration and discussion of the 1858 papers of Darwin and Wallace; Wallace’s 1855 paper.
Discussion of some critical reviews of the Origin.
Darwinism in view of Kuhn's theory of paradigm switch ‑‑ does evolution fit Kuhn’s paradigm?
Evolution versus the theory of Natural Selection. Diverse meanings of natural election.
Natural selection versus selective demands.
Understanding and acceptance of the concept of Natural Selection and selective demands.
Readings: Mayr, (H), Ch. 10, 11; Mayr (P), Ch. 27; Bowler, Ch. 7, 8, 9.
Week 11 ‑‑ April 7: THEORIES OF INHERITANCE:
Importance of theories of inheritance to acceptance and development of evolutionary theories.
Soft versus hard inheritance; Blending versus particulate inheritance.
Analysis of Weismann's concepts.
History of the chromosomal theory of inheritance ‑‑ Roux's theory; Why Morgan spent years redeveloping an established theory (concept of closure).
The Morgan School of genetics. How did it and how did it not contribute to evolutionary theory?
Readings: Mayr (H), Ch. 14, 15, 16.
Week 12 ‑‑ April 14: THEORIES OF INHERITANCE (CONT.):
Mendel's laws; Formulation and why they were "lost"; The question of reductionism in biological research and explanation, Rediscovery of Mendel’s ideas.
Relationship between Mendel's laws and the cytology of mitosis and meiosis.
Mendelian genetics and its "conflict" with the theory of natural selection.
Mentalism versus biometrians; resolution of conflict largely by R. Fisher.
Darwinian selection theory ‑‑ work of R. Fischer and J.B.H. Haldane
Contribution of Wright to evolutionary theory. Shifting balance theory of selection. What is the existence of this theory and its possible role in evolutionary theory?
Lamarckian theory of evolution ‑‑ history of neo‑Lamarckian evolutionary ideas.
Development of population genetics and its relationships to evolutionary theory.
Development of variation in natural populations and its relationship to evolutionary theory.
Readings: Mayr (H), Ch. 17, 18, 19; Mayr (P), Ch. 24.
Week 13 ‑‑ April 21: MODERN SYNTHETIC THEORY OF EVOLUTION:
Pre‑synthetic work, development of mathematical population genetics and the study of variation in natural populations.
Development of the synthetic theory ‑‑ the period of 1937 ‑ 1948; Content of the theory.
Is the synthetic theory complete? Lacking areas in the evolutionary synthesis.
Contrast with the rise of population genetics 1930 ‑ 1936, and genetics of natural populations.
Analysis of the contributions of Dobzhansky, Mayr, Huxley, Simpson, Other central workers in the period of the evolutionary synthesis – the German group; work of botanists.
Importance of individual variation in populations; Philosophy of population thinking and its bearing in human ideas.
Readings: Mayr (H), Ch. 11, 12, 13; Mayr (P), Ch. 28; Bowler, Ch. 9, 10.
Week 14 ‑‑ April 28: CLASSIFICATION AND PHYLETIC RECONSTRUCTION:
Ordering systems classifications versus phylogenies versus sequences.
Definition of phylogeny; Haeckelian versus Hennigian phylogeny.
Concept of homology by Owen; Pre‑evolutionary history of homology and its later modification.
Modern definition of homology; Relationship of homology to evolutionary theory; Changes in the concept with the advent of evolution .
Recognition and empirical testing of homology; Homology is a (= the) central concept in historical evolutionary theory.
Use of homology in classification and phylogeny.
Phylogeny; Formulation of group hypotheses and of character hypotheses in phylogenetic analysis; The problem of circular reasoning in these historical evolutionary studies.
Readings: Mayr (H), Ch. 4, 5, 6; Mayr (P), Ch. 16, 17, 18.
Week 15 ‑‑ May 5: CLASSIFICATION AND PHYLETIC RECONSTRUCTION (CONT.):
Concepts of ordering systems versus classifications; What are classifications and why are they used in science. Ordering systems.
Top‑down versus bottom-up methods of biological classification.
Taxa and their levels. Recognition, delimitation and diagnosis of taxa, not definition.
Assessment of characteristics (attributes) delimiting taxa at all levels.
Fussy groups; identification and assignment of individual organisms to known taxa.
Approaches to classifications; The concept of the "best" classification – how judged.
Formulation of group hypotheses and of character hypotheses in classificatory analysis; The problem of circular reasoning.
Relationship between phylogeny and classification.
Diverse concepts of monophyly and polyphyly.
Analysis of evolutionary versus phenetic versus phylogenetic (cladistic) classifications.
Role of evolutionary theory in classificatory analysis.
Role of functional and adaptational analyses in character analysis.
CLASS MEETINGS: These will be a combination of lectures and class discussions. Please be ready to think about the material, ask questions and add to the ideas. Students should feel free to bring up topics from previous class meetings. Please be an active participant.
TEXTBOOKS (available in Barnes and Noble College Bookstore, or get on a .com web site):
a) The growth of biological thought: Diversity, evolution and inheritance. Ernst Mayr, Harvard University Press. (Paperback) (= H)
b) Evolution. The history of an idea. Peter J. Bowler, University of California Press. (Paperback)
c) On the Origin of Species. C. Darwin, Pelican Paperback ISBN 014040.001X.
d) Toward a new philosophy of Biology. Observations of an evolutionist. Ernst Mayr, Harvard University Press. (Paperback) (= P)
There will be a number of handouts made available during the term discussing material not well covered in these textbooks. Most of these will be posted on the course web site.
The grade in the course will be based on a midterm and a final term paper. There will be no examinations. Topics for these papers will be given in the class with sufficient to research it and write the paper. The length of these papers will be given with the assignment of the topics. The deadline for these papers will be as follows:
Midterm paper: 26 March 2008. (About 40 % of the grade)
Final term paper: 12 May 2008. (About 60% of the grade)
Because I have to read the papers and submit the grades, these deadlines are absolutely fixed.
Office: 733 Mudd.
Mail box: 2428 Fairchild (front of building).