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Challenging the Modern SynthesisAdaptation, Development, and Inheritance$
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Philippe Huneman and Denis Walsh

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199377176

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199377176.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 October 2021

Genetic Assimilation and the Paradox of Blind Variation

Genetic Assimilation and the Paradox of Blind Variation

(p.111) 3 Genetic Assimilation and the Paradox of Blind Variation
Challenging the Modern Synthesis

Arnaud Pocheville

Étienne Danchin

Oxford University Press

This chapter confronts the neo-Darwinian core tenet of blind variation, or random mutation, with classical and recent models of genetic assimilation. We first argue that all the mechanisms proposed so far rely on blind genetic variation fueling natural selection. Then, we examine a new hypothetical mechanism of genetic assimilation, relying on nonblind genetic variation. Yet, we show that such a model still relies on blind variation of some sort to explain adaptation. Last, we discuss the very meaning of the tenet of blind variation. We propose a formal characterization of the tenet and argue that it should not be understood solely as an empirical claim, but also as a core explanatory principle.

Keywords:   random mutation, genetic assimilation, epigenetics, modern synthesis, neo-Darwinism

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