Re: Re: James Shapiro Article and Neo-Darwinism
Tue, 15 Sep 1998 07:46:38 EDT

Hi Tim,

Thanks for your point by point response to my questions regarding evolution.

After reading what you wrote in such great detail, which I appreciate, I am
reminded of Thomas Kuhn's observation in *The Structure of Scientific
Revolutions* to the effect that the work of *normal science* is that of
extending the given paradigm to cover an ever widening range of phenomena. I
believe that is what you and other evolutionary authors are engaged in. But
normal science does not lead to scientific progress.

Both Kuhn and Shapiro would agree that such activities do not advance
scientific understanding. I believe Shapiro is calling for a revolution in
thinking about longstanding biological problems. He wrote, "Novel ways of
looking at longstanding problems have historically been the chief motors of
scientific progress." He is not talking about stuffing more phenomena into
the paradigm, but doing something as follows--

Identifying long standing problems. What are "longstanding problems"? They
are not easy to identify, partly because evolutionary authors no longer
consider some of them problems. I suggest that aging of species is one. No
evolutionary writer would open up the debate on whether species actually age
and if so, what are the mechanisms, because it is no longer a problem.
Shapiro described four of them in his article. More of them need to be placed
on the table.

Finding "novel ways of looking" at them. What does this mean? I believe it
means operationally to step outside one's favorite paradigm and to look for
and at problems as if the paradigm did not exist. We need to remove the
blinders that habitual, comfortable ways of looking at phenomena foster.

I hope these comments shed some light on the discussion.