The Rise of Chance in Evolutionary Theory: A Pompous Parade of Arithmetic explores a pivotal conceptual moment in the history of evolutionary theory: the development of its extensive reliance on a wide array of concepts of chance. It tells the history of a methodological and conceptual development that reshaped our approach to natural selection over a century, ranging from Darwin's earliest notebooks in the 1830s to the early years of the Modern Synthesis in the 1930s. Far from being a "pompous parade of arithmetic", as one early critic argued, evolution transformed during this period to make these conceptual and technical tools indispensable. This book charts the role of chance in evolutionary theory from its beginnings to the earliest days of modern evolutionary theory, making it an ideal resource for evolutionary biologists, historians, philosophers, and researchers in science studies or biological statistics.
1. Chance governs the descent of a farthing: Charles Darwin
2. The wonderful form of cosmic order: Francis Galton
3. The only ultimate test of the theory of natural selection: The Early Years of Biometry
4. Here is the true gospel: Biometry After Mendelism
5. Reconciling the biometrical conclusions: Evolution from 1906 to 1918
6. What natural selection must be doing: R. A. Fisher’s Early Synthesis
7. Conclusions, historiographical and philosophical Index
Charles H. Pence is Chargé de cours (Assistant Professor) at the Institut supérieur de philosophie, and director of the Center for the Philosophy of Science and Society (CEFISES) at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium. Previously, he was Assistant Professor and Director of the LSU Ethics Institute at Louisiana State University. He is the author of 2 books and over 20 articles and book chapters on the philosophy and history of evolutionary theory. His work centres on the integrated philosophy and history of biology, with a particular focus on the introduction and contemporary use of concepts of chance and methods of statistics in evolutionary theory.