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Responding to Merlin’s Defense of Darwinism – Introduction

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A paper came out just in the last month defending The Modern Synthesis (aka Darwinism) from attacks by biologists such as Jablonka, Lamb, Wright, Shapiro, and others who opt for including a neo-Lamarckianism into biology. This paper, “Evolutionary Chance Mutation: A Defense of the Modern Synthesis’ Consensus View” (go here if the previous link is down) was published in the journal Philosophy and Theory in Biology. It is very interesting, not only for what it says about Darwinism and its challenges, but also, indirectly, the Intelligent Design movement (ID is never mentioned but directed mutation is a topic close to home for many ID’ers).

I’m breaking this response into 4 parts:

I haven’t finished writing parts II, III, or IV yet, so I can’t promise that I won’t combine some them or make more. I will also update this post/table of contents as I get the other posts written, so I have a document which links to everything.

Overall, I found it was a very good paper, spending time considering a lot of issues that need working through. I disagree with the author at many major points (hence the response), but nonetheless it was indeed a thoughtful and well-researched analysis.

UPDATE – the series has now been completed

The link to the online version is formatted incorrectly (extraneous quote-mark in the URL). Here's a functioning, persistent URL to the same article: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.6959004.0002.003 jgmorse
Merlin's paper takes the 'liberal' approach to science: "It all depends on what the meaning of is is." She tweeks the definition of "directed mutation", she misunderstands the distinction between a "directed" and a "semi-directed" mutation, and she thinks this somehow debunks Jablonka and Lamb's criticism. Sorry, it won't work. And the Modern Synthesis is unsalvageable. In the meantime, the clear emergence of "directed" mutations, and its attendant 'hypermutability', shed light on my dismissal even of what we know as 'natural selection.' It isn't "nature" that really selects; it's the organism that 'selects' to modify its genome/phenome so as to better 'adapt' to its environment. Hence, we should really talk about 'adaptive selection'. I know this is something most at UD are uncomfortable; yet, I feel rather sure that with time it is this position that will come to be viewed as the more accurate understanding of transmissable life. PaV
Since it is open-access, I added an alternate location to retrieve the document from. http://bit.ly/9MZky3 johnnyb
The link is down even from their own web site. idnet.com.au

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