In On the Origin of Species (1859), Charles Darwin put forward his theory of natural selection. Conventionally, Darwin's argument for this theory has been understood as based on an analogy with artificial selection. But there has been no consensus on how, exactly, this analogical argument is supposed to work – and some suspicion too that analogical arguments on the whole are embarrassingly weak. Drawing on new insights into the history of analogical argumentation from the ancient Greeks onward, as well as on in-depth studies of Darwin's public and private writings, Darwin's Argument by Analogy offers an original perspective on Darwin's argument, restoring to view the intellectual traditions which Darwin took for granted in arguing as he did. From this perspective come new appreciations not only of Darwin's argument but of the metaphors based on it, the range of wider traditions the argument touched upon, and its legacies for science after the Origin.
1. Analogy in classical Greece
2. Analogy in the background to the Origin
3. Darwin's analogical theorising before the Origin
4. The 'one long argument' of the Origin
5. An analysis of Darwin's argument by analogy
6. Darwin's use of metaphor in the Origin
7. Rebuttals of the revisionists
8. Wider issues concerning Darwinian science
Roger M. White is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Leeds. He is an analytic philosopher whose books include The Structure of Metaphor (1996) and Talking About God: The Concept of Analogy and the Problem of Religious Language (2010).
M. J. S. Hodge is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Leeds. He is the author of Origins and Species (1991), Before and After Darwin (2008) and Darwin Studies (2009), and co-editor with Gregory Radick of The Cambridge Companion to Darwin (Cambridge, 2009).
Gregory Radick is a Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds. His books include The Simian Tongue: The Long Debate about Animal Language (2007) and, as co-editor with Jonathan Hodge, The Cambridge Companion to Darwin (Cambridge, 2009).
"Darwin's comparison between natural and artificial selection is not 'just a metaphor.' It exemplifies a figure of argumentation that goes back to ancient Greek mathematics: proportional analogy. The implications of this fact, spelled out by the distinguished co-authors of Darwin's Analogy, are sure to change Darwin studies, both historical and philosophical, for good."
– David J. Depew, University of Iowa