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Synthese

, Volume 196, Issue 3, pp 991–1017 | Cite as

Wallace’s and Darwin’s natural selection theories

  • Santiago GinnobiliEmail author
  • Daniel Blanco
Article

Abstract

This work takes a stand on whether Wallace should be regarded as co-author of the theory of natural selection alongside Darwin as he is usually considered on behalf of his alleged essential contribution to the conception of the theory. It does so from a perspective unexplored thus far: we will argue for Darwin’s priority based on a rational reconstruction of the theory of natural selection (following a hierarchical perspective for scientific theories, we present its conceptual framework together with its fundamental and special laws) as it appears in the writings of both authors. We show that the theory does not appear in exactly the same manner in the writings of each of its alleged co-discoverers: tough we find the same fundamental elements in both works, even in Darwin’s early texts, we discern a more complex unifying and ramified structure than the one we find in Wallace’s Ternate manuscript. Even when we think the badge of the “Darwin–Wallace” theory is well deserved, the unifying force of Darwin’s version has proved to be one of the keys for the ulterior success of the so-called Darwinian revolution in Biology.

Keywords

Darwin Hierarchical view of theories Natural selection Theory of natural selection Unifying power Wallace 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We want to thank Roberto Biaggi, Damien Rochford and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on previous versions of this paper. This research was supported by the research Projects PICT-2014-1741 (ANPCyT, Argentina), Research Program “Philosophy and History of Science” PUNQ, 1719/11 (UNQ, Argentina), and 32/15 255 (UNTREF, Argentina).

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET)/Center for Philosophy and History of Science (CEFHIC)-National University of Quilmes (UNQ)/University of Buenos Aires (UBA)Buenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Instituto de Estudios sobre la Ciencia y la TecnologíaBernalArgentina
  3. 3.National University of the Littoral (UNL)Santa FeArgentina
  4. 4.IHuCso “Litoral” UNL-CONICET, Sede-Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias-FHUCCiudad UniversitariaSanta FeArgentina

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