Re: [asa] The term Darwinism

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Sat Jun 27 2009 - 23:59:52 EDT

Good point, David.

I don't think that "Darwinism" would have caused the confusion you are
speaking about back in the period Randy was writing about. However, one
could make a case that with the rise of things like "social Darwinism",
"Darwinism" might be understood to refer to some philosophy or political or
ethical view based loosely on biological evolution, but going much beyond

For that reason, I agree with you that the term "Darwinian evolution" is
more accurate and less ambiguous than "Darwinism". But it takes longer to
type! So I sometimes type "Darwinism" as a short form, counting on the
context to make it clear that I am talking about the evolution of species,
not survival-of-the-fittest economics or eugenics programs or anything of
the sort.

Anyhow, sticking with "Darwinian evolution", it seems to me that not only
Coyne and Dawkins, but also Miller and Collins, accept "Darwinian evolution"
as an accurate and essentially correct "historical" account of nature. And
that is where I am skeptical. I am dubious that the Darwinian account can
really explain macroevolution, once the discussion moves from big, broad
generalities to the examination of the building of particular organs and
systems. It seems to me that when it comes to the particulars, Darwinian
evolution is quite sketchy, much sketchier than any major theory that I can
think of in any field of science. Of course, Coyne and Dawkins have a
strong religious motive (atheism) to overlook this sketchiness and accept
Darwinian evolution anyway; but Miller and Collins, one would think, would
have a religious motive, not necessarily to reject Darwinian theory, but at
least to give it a very hard look.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Dave Wallace" <>
To: "Cameron Wybrow" <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Thursday, June 25, 2009 1:38 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] The term Darwinism

> Cameron Wybrow wrote:
>> This is why I always use "Darwinian evolution" (or "Darwinism") as a term
>> of distinction, and not just as a mere synonym for "evolution".

> Seems like a reasonable definition except that it is not clear how to
> easily refer to those like Dawkins and Coyne that not only accept
> "Darwinian evolution" but also hold to philosophical naturalism. I have
> tended to use "Darwinism" for that purpose since the "ism" postfix is
> often used to refer to world view or religious beliefs.
> Dave W

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Received on Sun Jun 28 00:01:18 2009

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