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Shaping Science with RhetoricThe Cases of Dobzhansky, Schrodinger, and Wilson$
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Leah Ceccarelli

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780226099064

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226099088.001.0001

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The Initiator of the Evolutionary Synthesis: Historians and Scientists Weigh In

The Initiator of the Evolutionary Synthesis: Historians and Scientists Weigh In

(p.13) 2 The Initiator of the Evolutionary Synthesis: Historians and Scientists Weigh In
Shaping Science with Rhetoric
University of Chicago Press

A study of the history of ideas during this period shows that the differences in scientific approach between these two groups paralleled a difference in commitment to particular evolutionary theories. The evolutionary synthesis has been called one of the most important events in the history of twentieth-century biology. The central point of the synthesis was that Mendel's genetics and Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection could be joined to explain all evolutionary phenomena. The “evolutionary synthesis” was a movement that reorganized disciplines, overcoming intellectual and professional barriers that were keeping scientists in different areas from working together. It was a conceptual and political understanding that resulted in collaboration between disciplines, rather than a novel truth claim authorized by an invisible college of workers within a particular area. Each of these historical accounts marks some development in theoretical model or disciplinary information as the driving cause of the synthesis. Another hypothesis is that the synthesis required a broader conceptual change on the part of scientists working in the relevant disciplines.

Keywords:   scientific approach, evolutionary synthesis, Darwin's theory, natural selection, genetics

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