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Toward a Modern Revival of Darwin’s Theory of Evolutionary Novelty

Mary Jane West‐Eberhard
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 75, No. 5, Proceedings of the 2006 Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science AssociationPart II: Symposia PapersEdited by Cristina Bicchieri and Jason Alexander (December 2008), pp. 899-908
DOI: 10.1086/594533
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/594533
Page Count: 10
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Toward a Modern Revival of Darwin’s Theory of Evolutionary Novelty
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Abstract

Darwin proposed that evolutionary novelties are environmentally induced in organisms “constitutionally” sensitive to environmental change, with selection effective owing to the inheritance of constitutional responses. A molecular theory of inheritance, pangenesis, explained the cross‐generational transmission of environmentally induced traits, as required for evolution by natural selection. The twentieth‐century evolutionary synthesis featured mutation as the source of novelty, neglecting the role of environmental induction. But current knowledge of environmentally sensitive gene expression, combined with the idea of genetic accommodation of mutationally and environmentally induced change, supports a revival of Darwin's original theory that is consistent with modern molecular and population genetics.

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