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Extended evolutionary synthesis: Struggling with change in evolutionary biology

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At the big Brazilian ID blog, someone spotted this in the wake:


Theory in Biosciences

November 2018, Volume 137, Issue 2, pp 169–184 | Cite as

The emerging structure of the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis: where does Evo-Devo fit in?

Alejandro Fábregas-Tejeda, Francisco Vergara-Silva

First Online: 21 August 2018

Abstract

The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES) debate is gaining ground in contemporary evolutionary biology. In parallel, a number of philosophical standpoints have emerged in an attempt to clarify what exactly is represented by the EES. For Massimo Pigliucci, we are in the wake of the newest instantiation of a persisting Kuhnian paradigm; in contrast, Telmo Pievani has contended that the transition to an EES could be best represented as a progressive reformation of a prior Lakatosian scientific research program, with the extension of its Neo-Darwinian core and the addition of a brand-new protective belt of assumptions and auxiliary hypotheses. Here, we argue that those philosophical vantage points are not the only ways to interpret what current proposals to ‘extend’ the Modern Synthesis-derived ‘standard evolutionary theory’ (SET) entail in terms of theoretical change in evolutionary biology. We specifically propose the image of the emergent EES as a vast network of models and interweaved representations that, instantiated in diverse practices, are connected and related in multiple ways. Under that assumption, the EES could be articulated around a paraconsistent network of evolutionary theories (including some elements of the SET), as well as models, practices and representation systems of contemporary evolutionary biology, with edges and nodes that change their position and centrality as a consequence of the co-construction and stabilization of facts and historical discussions revolving around the epistemic goals of this area of the life sciences. We then critically examine the purported structure of the EES—published by Laland and collaborators in 2015—in light of our own network-based proposal. Finally, we consider which epistemic units of Evo-Devo are present or still missing from the EES, in preparation for further analyses of the topic of explanatory integration in this conceptual framework.

Keywords Extended Evolutionary Synthesis Evolutionary biology Paradigm Scientific research program Epistemic units Evo-Devo


They sound so cautious, feeling their way through the ruins of the certainties of classical neo-Darwinism—the kind where it was easy to wreck people’s careers over doubt.

Hat tip: Pos-darwinista

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See also: Researchers: Microbes jeopardize neo-Darwinism (and Jon Bartlett’s response) Jonathan Bartlett: Note how the fact that mutations are no longer considered “environmentally blind” was thrown in at the end, almost as if they were hoping that reviewers didn’t catch it.

4 Replies to “Extended evolutionary synthesis: Struggling with change in evolutionary biology

  1. 1
    Fasteddious says:

    The abstract reads like a smokescreen of hypotheses waved about to hide the fact that Darwinism, in any unguided guise, does not work.

  2. 2
    EDTA says:

    So glad to hear that “the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES) debate is gaining ground in contemporary evolutionary biology,” while at the same time, “a number of philosophical standpoints have emerged in an attempt to clarify what exactly is represented by the EES.”
    But they should feel free to clarify what they are talking about first, and then let it gain ground (if it could…which I doubt).

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Here is a much more straightforward analysis that does not try to dance around what is glaringly obvious:

    Neutral Model, genetic drift and the Third Way—a synopsis of the self-inflicted demise of the evolutionary paradigm
    by Jeffrey P. Tomkins and Jerry Bergman – 2017
    “Because of grievous deficiencies in the standard neo-Darwinian Model of evolution, which is largely selection driven, scientists proposed an alternative postulate called the ‘Neutral Model’ in the late 1960s. The Neutral Model is also mutation driven, but selection is deemed to be an insignificant force of change. Instead, random genetic drift is alleged to be the main driver. Since its inception, the Neutral Model has come to be incorporated in many theoretical evolutionary scenarios at some level. However, due to numerous discoveries in genomics and genome function, the Neutral Model has also become deficient, prompting a new move in science called the ‘Extended Evolutionary Synthesis’ or ‘The Third Way’, which takes a position of blissful ignorance and offers nothing tangible to extend or support evolutionary theory. While Third Way proponents recognize the deficiency of all popular evolutionary models, they maintain that more research is needed to elucidate unknown evolutionary mechanisms and processes despite the fact that the progress of scientific discovery is revealing nothing but unimaginable complexity.”
    https://creation.com/evolutionary-mechanisms

  4. 4
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    “Smokescreen” is right.
    Their Settled Ersatz Truth (SET) network model sure sounds Designed, with nodes and edges and everything! Intelligent, not so much. It’s like I’m reading what I think is a radiologist’s description of a brain tumor, but then find it’s a YouTuber describing the hairball that his cat coughed up.

    It’s just another fanciful way of sticking their thumb in the eye of the Creator and saying, “What a good boy am I!”

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