(Mis)Intepreting Analogies: 'Design', 'Contrivance' and 'Group'|
Analogies are common in biology, in developing and conveying ideas, as well as in structuring theoretical categories and thinking. The inherent incompleteness of analogies also allows for flexibilty in interpretation and, sometimes, error. This session explores two cases of analogy in evolutionary concepts and arguments: Darwin's use of 'contrivance' and the elusive meaning of 'group' in group selection.
Organized by: Kiersten Fiel
- Richard England, Salisbury State University
"The Metaphors and Metaphysics of Contrivance: Darwin, Wallace and the Duke of Argyll"
- In the afterwash of the Origin of Species the term "contrivance" was a vortex of debate. Darwin pushed the boundaries of this metaphor in his work on orchids (1862), while the Duke of Argyll pressed the claim that contrivance necessarily implied mind in his Reign of Law (1867). Alfred Russel Wallace defended Darwin from these philosophical assaults while privately begging him to adopt a more metaphysically neutral language. By exploring the interplay of language, science and philosophy in discussions of "contrivance" we can see just how Darwin's teleological terminology and argument at once baffled, alienated and convinced his contemporaries.
- Ayelet Shavit, Hebrew University in Jerusalem
"Shifting Models - Value shifts partly explain the debate over group selection"
- Debates over group selection continue for over 70 years, with few experimental attempts and no experimental resolution. Although competing models of selection can be differentiated, experiments are few, and usually lack sufficient empirical distinction. These empirical shortcomings do not seem to worry either supporters or opponents of group selection. One of the reasons may be the strong political and ideological under-currents of this debate, that shift with different ideologies - pacifism, nazism, and liberalism - at different times. I suggest that the contemporary indecisive scientific practice may be partly explained by historical shifts of images, metaphors and values, which re-echo in the present group selection debate.
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