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Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences$
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Oren Harman and Michael R. Dietrich

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226569871

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226570075.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 July 2021

W. Ford Doolittle

W. Ford Doolittle

Evolutionary Provocations and a Pluralistic Vision

(p.113) 7 W. Ford Doolittle
Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences

Maureen A. O’malley

University of Chicago Press

W. Ford Doolittle is well known as an iconoclastic and visionary microbial evolutionist. As well as challenging orthodoxies about the tree of life, he has made major contributions to empirically grounded evolutionary theory. His ideas about selfish DNA, introns, Gaia, and non-adaptive evolution have made a significant impact on how evolutionary biologists think about evolution. But how did these fundamental challenges to orthodoxy come about, and how did they succeed in gaining footing within mainstream biology? This chapter will address all these aspects of Doolittle’s long career, and also his recent more explicitly philosophical turn, in which he brings each of these revolutionary moments together under an emerging advocacy for explanatory and conceptual pluralism.

Keywords:   Doolittle, microbial evolution, tree of life, lateral gene transfer, introns, selfish DNA

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