Rise and Shine, Mr. Freeman! I Have an Evolution Question!

Pax Christi, everyone!

What school of evolutionary thought makes the most sense to you? Evo-Devo? Structuralism? Neo-Darwinianism? Neo-Lamarckism?

school of evolutionary thought???


not interested.

When it comes to evolution, I am only interested in the scientific theory established and modified by the overwhelming measurable evidence… natural selection is certainly part of it. I am also interested in the developments towards a theory of the origin of life in abiogenesis, metabolism first theories, and prebiotic evolution.

It is not that I am not interested in philosophy. I am… (well parts of it) particularly Aristotle, Existentialism, Pragmatism, and metaphysics (i.e. study of the nature of reality), epistemology, philosophy of science… even symbolic logic.

1 Like

I wouldn’t classify evo-devo as a school of thought. It’s just the unavoidable conclusion that embryonic development is the product of the genome, and the genome is itself a product of evolution.

Titles like Neo-Darwinism really don’t describe much. They are so vague as to be meaningless because the term means many different things to many different people.

The incorporation of neutral evolution 60 years ago was important, and it continues to be a vibrant part of the theory of evolution. Concepts like Gould’s spandrels are good ones. The departure from pan-adaptionism was a good development for the theory.

If you are referring to acquired traits, it is at best a side show. There is evidence for transgenerational epigenetic inheritance in some species, but it is a very limited mechanism and a very limited number of lineages. It does nothing to negate the overwhelming signal of standard evolutionary mechanisms.


Evo-devo is a form (by far the most dominant, I think) of structuralism, so they’re not really different schools. Conflict between Neo-darwinian (which I take to include a heavy focus on natural selection) and structuralist approaches seem to boil down to two issues. One is the relative importance of developmental constraint in adaptive evolution and the other is the utility of thinking of adaptive evolution primarily in developmental or selectionist terms. The former is an empirical question, hard to answer, and the answer probably varies depending on the specifics being study. The latter seems pretty pointless to me, since both approaches promise to provide insight into evolutionary processes. A good paper (I think – I’ve only skimmed it) on the conflict:

As far as I know, Neo-Lamarckism is defunct. The processes that have turned out to be real and that seem vaguely Lamarckian (e.g. transgenerational epigenetic inheritance) seem to me to be of little evolutionary importance.


Although Lamarckism today is usually thought of as referring to a (plausible at the time but doesn’t actually generally work) model of transmission of traits, contemporaries generally saw it as the idea that all organisms are constantly changing along a fixed pattern. Lamarck thought that new microorganisms were constantly appearing and evolving towards more advanced conditions all the way to mammals; Cuvier considered the lack of change between ancient Egyptian mummified animals and modern individuals of the same species as a refutation of Lamarck’s evolutionary model.

As an idea of a simplistic fixed pattern, Lamarck’s evolutionary progression has more in common with other “Enlightenment” style “this is science because it’s a formula” rather than with modern science’s “this is science because it fits the data well”. Most purportedly scientific approaches to social issues (eg Marx, Freud) fall into that error as well.


This topic was automatically closed 6 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.