HPS211H1 Lecture Notes - Glen Roy, Lamarckism, Heredity


Department
History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
Course Code
HPS211H1
Professor
Curtis Forbes

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Evolution not equal to Darwinism- check pictures
Social Context: natural Theology
William Paley, the "Argument from Design," and "Evidences of Christianity"
Watchmaker analogy- all living things so well designed that no way you can think about them
without thinking that someone designed them, like some cosmic watchmaker, argument for
existence of God; study nature as God's creation
Species as "ideal types," perfectly adapted/designed for life in their environment
Variability within a species as irrelevant deviations from the ideal
Personal Context: Natural Theology
Darwin...
read Paley very well
came from a nonconformist Unitarian background, full of freethinkers
attended Cambridge for a B.A., training to become a Anglican parson
was a biblical literalist for a very long time
Social Context: Geology
Geological thought can be roughly divided into two camps: uniformitarianism (Lyell) and
catastrophism (Cuvier)
These are views on how to explain geological phenomena
Uniformitarianism:
o believes that the geological processes operating on Earth have always been the same
o Actualism: geologists should explain using known, still operant kinds of causes;
geological formations explained through things that we know to be happening like
floods, earthquakes
o "Uniformitarianism"- geologists should explain using operant degrees of force; can't
explain things by ridiculous degrees outside of normal force; be able to point to not only
kinds of causes but in the same degree in order to explain geological phenomenon
o Steady-state Earth-the Earth is in a constant cycle of eruption and decay (the beginning
and end of the earth are irrelevant to the geologist)
o Born out of "Vulcanist" school of geology (Hutton); "The present is the key to the past."
(Hutton)
o because this theory didn't give rise to very climatic changes, had a vision that earth was
set in a very old age
o OLD Earth
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Catastrophism - older theory
o Denies actualism, "uniformitarianism," and the steady-state Earth
o Geological phenomena result from "catastrophic" events (floods, massive earthquakes,
etc)
o not necessarily that divine being coming and flooding things and causing change, other
explanations as well
o Geological forces change over time
o Born out of "Neptunism" school of geology (Werner)- water as primary force
o YOUNG Earth
Personal Context: Geology
Darwin...
Was initially trained by a catastrophist (Sedgewick)
brought Lyell's book on the Beagle voyage
was a uniformitarian by 1839
Darwin was coming to his understanding of land formations as a geologist primarily not a
biologist
Social Context: Philosophy of Science
by this time Bacon and Newton prevalent on the continent, so all explanations, to be a
legitimate scientist need to explain phenomena through doctrines of Baconianism and
Newtonianism
William Whewell: Good theories display consilience (unificaiton of disparate phenomena)- a
good theory could explain a variety of different things
John Herschel: Good theories employ only familiar causes (vera causa); things that we know
being used to explain phenomena
Both agreed that good science, in all domains, looks like physics; that there is some sort of
system that will be developed and used to explain variety of phenomena
Dawin...
was committed to uniformitarianism, making him allied with Herschel (actualism - doctrine of
vera causa in geology)
was a speculative scientist, making him also allid with Whewell
was eager to meet the standards of both Herschel and Whewell
tailored the presentation of his theory in 'On the Origin of Species' to meet these standards of
"good science"
Also read works by Humboldt, which encouraged the search for complex interactions underlying
natural phenomena
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