Bio 1B Lecture Outline (please print and bring along) Fall, 2007
B.D. Mishler, Dept. of Integrative Biology 2-6810, firstname.lastname@example.org
Evolution Lecture #2 -- History of Evolution -- Nov. 5, 2007
A. Prelude: the wonders of adaptation; fit of organisms to environment. What was it that stimulated people to think about biodiversity in sheer wonder?
As we discussed last time, the ideas relating to evolution of species and the tree of life are among the most profound ideas the human species has been able to generate over its history. It has taken a lot of time, and false starts, to get to where we are today. It is important to look at the background of the pre-evolutionary worldview, to understand the context in which Darwin and others worked. It is also important to think hard about the philosophical background.
Important criteria to think about in looking at this history:
Relative balance in importance of theory vs. data -- rationalism vs empiricism
rationalism (went to an extreme in late middle ages)
empiricism (went to an extreme by the 1960's)
modern view is a mixture of the rational and the empirical, with some additions.
The modern view:
Ontology -- Background theories stating what kinds of entities exists, what are their fundamental meanings and relationships. [e.g., homologies, phylogenies, species, etc.]
Epistemology -- Background theories stating what kinds of empirical operations and methods can be used to discover the underlying ontological entities and relationships. [e.g., characters, statistics, cladistic analysis, etc.]
Sociology of science -- Motivations; patterns of teaching, cooperating, fighting; "progress" in science (Kuhn, 1970, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is the classic; see also Hull 1988, Science as a Process).
Concepts to discuss:
Hypothesis & Prediction
Falsification (the boundary between science and non-science?)