The Structure of Evolutionary Theory
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|The Structure of Evolutionary Theory|
|Author||Stephen Jay Gould|
|March 21, 2002|
|Dewey Decimal||576.8 21|
|LC Class||QH366.2 .G663 2002|
|Preceded by||The Lying Stones of Marrakech|
|Followed by||I Have Landed|
The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (2002) is a technical book on macroevolutionary theory by the Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, published only two months before his death. The volume is divided into two parts. The first is a historical study and exegesis of classical evolutionary thought, drawing extensively upon primary documents. The second is a constructive critique of contemporary Darwinian theory, and presents a case for a hierarchical interpretation of biological evolution based largely on the author's theory of punctuated equilibrium.
According to Gould, classical Darwinism encompasses three essential core commitments. These are: agency, efficacy, and scope. Agency is the unit upon which natural selection acts. For Charles Darwin, this fundamental unit was the organism. Efficacy encompasses the power of natural selection—over all other forces—in shaping evolution at ecological scales. (Auxiliary forces include sexual selection, as well as historical, structural, and developmental constraints.) Scope is the degree to which natural selection can be extrapolated to explain biological diversity at the macroevolutionary level, including the evolution of higher taxonomic groups.
Gould described these three propositions as the "tripod" of Darwinian central logic, each being so essential to the structure that if any branch were cut, it would either kill, revise, or superficially refurbish the whole structure (depending on the severity of the cut). According to Gould "substantial changes, introduced during the last half of the 20th century, have built a structure so expanded beyond the original Darwinian core, and so enlarged by new principles of macroevolutionary explanation, that the full exposition, while remaining within the domain of Darwinian logic, must be construed as basically different from the canonical theory of natural selection, rather than simply extended."
In the arena of agency, Gould explores the concept of "hierarchy" in the action of evolution (the idea that evolution may act on more than one unit simultaneously, as opposed to only acting upon individual organisms). In the arena of efficacy he explores the forces beside natural selection that have been considered in evolutionary theory. In the arena of scope he considers the relevance of natural selection to the larger scale patterns of life.
Chapter 1 introduces and outlines the central issues that Gould wishes to discuss. Part I of the book focuses on the early history of evolutionary thought (pre-1859), with Chapter 2 covering the structure of The Origin of Species, Chapter 3 focusing on issues surrounding agency, Chapters 4 & 5 covering efficacy, and Chapters 6 & 7 covering Scope. Part II (comprising the bulk of the text) focuses on the modern discussion and debate (post-1959). Chapters 8 & 9 cover agency, 10 & 11 cover efficacy, and 12 covers scope.
Sections of the book dealing with punctuated equilibrium (chiefly Chapter 9) have been posthumously reprinted as a separate volume by Belknap Harvard.
- Anonymous. The grand view The Economist December 5, 2002.
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- Brown, Andrew (2002) Adventures in evolution The Guardian, Saturday May 25, 2002.
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- Doughty, Howard (2005) Review The College Quarterly 8 (1).
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- Flannery, Tim (2002) A new Darwinism? New York Review of Books 49 (May 23): 52–54.
- Futuyma, Douglas J. (2002) Stephen Jay Gould à la recherche du temps perdu Science (April 26): 661-663
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- Jablonski, David (2002) A more modern synthesis American Scientist 90 (July–August): 368-371.
- Korthof, Gert (2004) Stephen Jay Gould as a critic of orthodox Neo-Darwinism
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- McGarr, Paul (2003) Revolutions in evolution International Socialism Journal 100 (Autumn): 81-112.
- McShea, Daniel (2004) A revised Darwinism. Biology and Philosophy. 19 (1): 45-53.
- Michael, Michaelis (2003) S.J. Gould's Last Words Metascience 12 (2): 214-216.
- Monastersky, Richard (2002) Revising the book of life The Chronicle, March 15, A14.
- Orr, H. Allen (2002) The descent of Gould The New Yorker, September 30, p. 132.
- Perlman, David (2002) A Darwinian leap San Francisco Chronicle, April 14, RV-1.
- Quammen, David (2003) The man who knew too much Harper's Magazine, June, pp. 73–80.
- Raymo, Chet (2002) Gould's last book is fitting epitaph. Boston Globe, May 28.
- Ridley, Mark (2002) Stephen Jay Gould wants an evolution revolution The New York Times, March 17, sect. 7, col. 1, p. 11.
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- Shermer, Michael (2002) Grand design Washington Post, April 14, BW04.
- Shostak, Stanley (2003) Struggle in the structure of evolutionary theory. Boundary 2 30 (Fall): 213-239.
- Stearns, S. C. (2002) Less would have been more. Evolution 56 (11): 2339-45.
- Sterelny, Kim (2003) Last will and testament. Philosophy of Science 70 (2): 255-263.
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- Harvard's promotional page
- The Structure of Evolutionary Theory - available to read online at Google Books
- The Structure of Evolutionary Theory - Full text in HTML
- Punctuated Equilibrium's Threefold History - book excerpt
- Charlie Rose, March 1, 1994 - Gould discusses the purpose of the book
- The Structure of Evolutionary Theory Weblog A blog on reading The Structure of Evolutionary Theory
- French review of La Structure de la Théorie de l'évolution - by Cyril Langlois