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A Commentary on Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species' Part Two

Brett Nichols

Posted on June 8, 2020 03:09

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A continuation of my reflections on the scientific methodology that Darwin uses within his book, 'On the Origin of Species.' In light of his data, Darwin appeals heavily to his perceptions and goals all the while seeking out observational proofs in its confirmation.

 

One of the most distinctive features of Darwin’s iteration of the theory of evolution is its widely reaching explanatory value, especially in contrast to the other competing evolutionary views within his lifetime. However, one of the most interesting pieces of evidence he uses is the findings of creatures within the geological record.

Within Chapter 11, "On the Geological Succession of Organic Beings," Darwin argues that the theory of natural selection and common descent with modification explains the commonalities between various birds, plants, and all other creatures via the theory’s emphasis in migration, relationship, and various creatures' adaptation within their contemporary environments. And previously in Chapter 10, he argues that his theory is substantiated by the discovered variations of creatures within the fossil record that "links" them with other, more modern creatures.

In light of these explanations by common descent via natural selection, Darwin states, "I have attempted to show that the arrangement of all organic beings throughout all time in groups under groups -- that the nature of the relationships by which all living and extinct organisms are united by complex, radiating, and circuitous lines of affinities into a few grand classes." He maintains his view is the most plausible explanation in contrast to other "wholly inexplicable" accounts for life on earth, scientific or otherwise.

It cannot be denied that Darwin’s theory has great explanatory value, particularly towards using empirical data to attempt to confirm his concept of descent within various living creatures. However, within Darwin’s appeal to a profusely comprehensive account of links that could support his thesis, the actual data supporting his claims were minimal, especially within his most-treasured evidence -- the fossil record. Nonetheless, despite that, Darwin boldly maintained his theory to be the most explanatory that there ever was.

Within Darwins's book, his explanations should be understood as an appeal to the best explanation via first prediction, presupposition and observation rather than research on genes or reliance on the present research available. Where it is not inherently wrong to hold the belief that one's educated theoretically guided speculations may one day come to fruition, Darwin unrelentingly maintains his view was not one easily disputable.

In Chapter 10, Darwin admittingly states that his view’s weakness is that it is supported by an extremely limited number of fossils in general, even fewer of those that assumed to be transitional. However, instead of geological limitations being a hindrance in his own position or maintaining reserve that his theory could potentially be disproven, Darwin further postulates that it is the geological record that is genuinely flawed in light of his inductive argument. Thus, the argument cannot be sufficiently established against his position. Where it is debated whether the geological record alone now suffices to account for Darwin’s theory, such an immovable position within Darwin’s life reveals primacy lied not within the concrete evidence available, but within his own predictions and observations of nature.

It is obvious that Darwin shaped the scientific climate today. Nonetheless, "Darwinism" is very different from its first iteration.

Brett Nichols

Posted on June 8, 2020 03:09

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Source: Phys.org

Even Charles Darwin, the author of "The Origin of Species", had a problem with species.

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