The Proper Role of Population Genetics in Modern Evolutionary Theory

Biological Theory 3 (4):316-324 (2008)
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Abstract

Evolutionary biology is a field currently animated by much discussion concerning its conceptual foundations. On the one hand, we have supporters of a classical view of evolutionary theory, whose backbone is provided by population genetics and the so-called Modern Synthesis (MS). On the other hand, a number of researchers are calling for an Extended Synthe- sis (ES) that takes seriously both the limitations of the MS (such as its inability to incorporate developmental biology) and recent empirical and theoretical research on issues such as evolvability, modularity, and self-organization. In this article, I engage in an in-depth commentary of an influential paper by population geneticist Michael Lynch, which I take to be the best defense of the MS-population genetics position published so far. I show why I think that Lynch’s arguments are wanting and propose a modification of evolutionary theory that retains but greatly expands on population genetics.

Author's Profile

Massimo Pigliucci
CUNY Graduate Center

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