Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Love - Amundson's 'The Changing Role of the Embryo in Evolutionary Thought: Roots of Evo-Devo'

"Philosophers of science have a persistent yet variable interest in the history of science. Despite methodological differences, philosophers of particular scientific domains are often not only aware of but participate in historical investigations relevant to their subjects (and objects) of study. The Changing Role of the Embryo in Evolutionary Thought is a revisionist history of evolutionary theorizing through the lens of embryological considerations, which buttresses Ron Amundson's philosophical claims about the epistemological relations (or lack thereof) between evolution and development. The book is divided into two parts with the first covering the nineteenth century, including material from systematics, comparative anatomy, Owen and Darwin, and evolutionary morphology. Part II moves more quickly through the twentieth century to arrive at our current situation, treating heredity, the evolutionary synthesis (or Modern Synthesis), 'structuralist' reactions to the Modern Synthesis, and recent theoretical debates pertinent to the significance of embryological research for evolutionary biology. The aim throughout is twofold: (1) to expose common mischaracterizations of historical episodes in the biological sciences that result from particular theoretical commitments; and, (2) to demonstrate how these mischaracterizations arise out of philosophical positions (implicit and explicit) and lead to a conceptualization of evolutionary theory that excludes any role for development. Bringing these historical issues to light exposes a wide swath of interesting questions that have been largely ignored in philosophy of biology." - NDPR.

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