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Mutation, Randomness, and Evolution$
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Arlin Stoltzfus

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780198844457

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198844457.001.0001

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Moving on

Moving on

(p.197) Chapter 10 Moving on
Mutation, Randomness, and Evolution

Arlin Stoltzfus

Oxford University Press

Chapter 10 includes a synopsis of key points from previous chapters as well as reflections on changing explananda, notions of causation, and the importance of identifying testable theories. The ongoing delay in recognizing the introduction process as a dispositional evolutionary cause reflects the lasting influence of the shifting-gene-frequencies theory, and a lack of influence of molecular studies of evolution. Evolutionary discourse proceeds as if the major issues are defined relative to the morphology and behavior of large charismatic animals, yet evolutionary biologists themselves focus increasingly on molecules and microbes. Verbal theories of causation play an important role in determining what causes are possible and what they may explain. In contemporary debates on the status of “evolutionary theory,” the pressure to defend or reject a flexible “Synthesis” distorts history and spawns confusion over what makes a theory. Testable theories, not loosely defined traditions, are what make science distinctive.

Keywords:   explananda, explanatory paradigms, neo-Darwinism, Modern Synthesis, evolutionary theory, Standard Evolutionary Theory, Extended Evolutionary Synthesis

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