Taking the History of Science Really Seriously by Scott A. Kleiner

TAKING THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE REALLY SERIOUSLY

Details steps in the Copernican Revolution as an exemplar of scientific revolutions (Scientific change). This is a process, not an episode¬¬¬, extending from the fifth century B.C.E (Plato, Aristotle) through Newton (1687), including Kepler (1610), Galileo (1630), Descartes (1640), Huygens (1675). Detailed analyses of these texts demonstrates that these several steps are linked by an awareness of unfulfilled epistemic values, predictive power, ontic comprehensiveness (partial realism), explanatory coherence, simplicity (in various forms).

Part II shows that the Darwinian Revolution is similarly structured, beginning with Plato’s typological taxonomy, Aristotle’s teleological animal development and taxonomical stasis,, the discovery of organic fossils (Steno, Hooke, 1620), the extension of geological time and epistemic resources for prehistoric discovery (Buffon, 1780), the discovery of extinction (Cuvier, 1796), uniformitarianism (Lyell, 1830), Darwin as a Lyellian inquirer (1831-1837), Darwin’s conversion to transmutation (1835), and the discovery and justification of natural selection, (Darwin’s inquiries (1835-1859).

Part III deals with Mendel, Fisher (population genetics and the effectiveness of natural selection), cytology (cell theory—Schleiden -Schwann, Virchow and the Sutton-Boveri hypothesis—the gene is a part of the chromosome) and Morgan’s mapping of the Drosophila chromosomes. The ‘New Synthesis’ of Mendelian population genetics is based on the population genetics of Fisher and others (1900-1930) richly disparate models of evolutionary processes, natural selection, heterosis, gender numerical equality, preferential mating, and much else. The New Synthesis is viewed as a reductionistic research program, involving the identities ‘evolution = change in gene frequencies’ ‘speciation=formation of disparate intra-breeding populations’, etc. Such a program fails because of multiple realization: By molecular biology the gene can be structural, as that responsible for the protein keratin, or regulatory as one producing a protein that regulates the production of the digestive enzyme lactase. Macro evolution—the search for major pattern-shifts in evolutionary history—is also covered—the origin of prokariotic (bacteria, cyanobacteria) life forms (single celled without nuclei), eukaryotes (by endosymbiosis), metazoa (multi-celled individuals) and the evolutionary advantages of each.
Scott A. Kleiner the author of Taking the History of Science Really Seriously
Scott A. Kleiner spends his life in the pursuit of scientific change and discovery in the physical and biological sciences.
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