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Evolution—the Extended Synthesis$
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Massimo Pigliucci and Gerd B. Müller

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780262513678

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262513678.001.0001

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Reconsidering the Importance of Chance Variation

Reconsidering the Importance of Chance Variation

(p.21) 2 Reconsidering the Importance of Chance Variation
Evolution—the Extended Synthesis

John Beatty

The MIT Press

This chapter analyzes the relative roles of contingency and chance variation in evolutionary theory. It describes the tradition and line of reasoning, from Charles Darwin throughout the Modern Synthesis, which completely subordinate the importance of chance variation to that of natural selection. The chapter demonstrates the very real role which chance variation and the order of variation play in directing the course of evolution, arguing that chance variation was initially conceived for the purpose of being subordinated. It also shows that chance variation need not be predictably directed in order to impact the direction of evolutionary change.

Keywords:   chance variation, evolutionary theory, contingency, Charles Darwin, Modern Synthesis, natural selection

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