Darwinian Evolutionary Theory: Its Structure and Its Mechanism

Michael Ruse

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780195182057
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780198614128 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Darwinian Evolutionary Theory: Its Structure and Its Mechanism

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  • Epistemology



This article starts when Charles Darwin published his great evolutionary work, “On the Origin of Species” which deals with artificial selection, i.e. the combination of traits and natural selection in which certain traits are attributed to improved survival ability. The ideal behind the book was the concept of laws being bound up deductively into a system. Population genetics does not deal directly with physical objects and their features. Rather, it casts everything in terms of the presumed underlying genes. It brings out the semantic aspects of the theory. Various methods are used for adaptation such as the comparative method. Darwin said that group selection might be an important factor in the evolution of morality. There is a theory of “punctuated equilibrium” which supposes that rapid evolution takes place in groups when they are first isolated from the parent body. Darwinian theory adds to our new understanding and at the same time draws strength from this understanding.

Keywords: Charles Darwin; selection; genetics; theory; evolution; method

Article.  14798 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science ; Epistemology

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