Evolution, the Extended Synthesis
504 pp., 6 x 9 in, 52 b&w illus., 5 tables
- Published: March 26, 2010
Prominent evolutionary biologists and philosophers of science survey recent work that expands the core theoretical framework underlying the biological sciences.
In the six decades since the publication of Julian Huxley's Evolution: The Modern Synthesis, the spectacular empirical advances in the biological sciences have been accompanied by equally significant developments within the core theoretical framework of the discipline. As a result, evolutionary theory today includes concepts and even entire new fields that were not part of the foundational structure of the Modern Synthesis. In this volume, sixteen leading evolutionary biologists and philosophers of science survey the conceptual changes that have emerged since Huxley's landmark publication, not only in such traditional domains of evolutionary biology as quantitative genetics and paleontology but also in such new fields of research as genomics and EvoDevo.
Most of the contributors to Evolution, the Extended Synthesis accept many of the tenets of the classical framework but want to relax some of its assumptions and introduce significant conceptual augmentations of the basic Modern Synthesis structure—just as the architects of the Modern Synthesis themselves expanded and modulated previous versions of Darwinism. This continuing revision of a theoretical edifice the foundations of which were laid in the middle of the nineteenth century—the reexamination of old ideas, proposals of new ones, and the synthesis of the most suitable—shows us how science works, and how scientists have painstakingly built a solid set of explanations for what Darwin called the “grandeur” of life.
John Beatty, Werner Callebaut, Jeremy Draghi, Chrisantha Fernando, Sergey Gavrilets, John C. Gerhart, Eva Jablonka, David Jablonski, Marc W. Kirschner, Marion J. Lamb, Alan C. Love, Gerd B. Müller, Stuart A. Newman, John Odling-Smee, Massimo Pigliucci, Michael Purugganan, Eörs Szathmáry, Günter P. Wagner, David Sloan Wilson, Gregory A. Wray
The essays in this volume provide ample food for thought, and from all the major food groups! The Modern Synthesis in evolutionary theory, and what lies beyond, are assessed here from multiple angles. This book will greatly interest evolutionary biologists and philosophers of evolutionary biology alike.
Elliot Sober, Hans Reichenbach Professor and William F. Vilas Research Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison
The twenty-first century will likely be the century of biology, just as the twentieth century was the century of physics. The central, organizing theory of biology is—and will remain—the theory of evolution. If you want to know how the theory of evolution will likely expand and be configured in the twenty-first century, reading Evolution, the Extended Synthesis is a good way to start.
Francisco J. Ayala, Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences, University of California, Irvine and author of Human Evolution: Trails from the Past
An impressive and provocative overview; it should become the focus of semester-long graduate student reading groups across the country, as it has at my home institution.
Michael J. Wade