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Introduction David Hulls book provides an evolutionary account of the development of science which pays attention to both the social and conceptual aspects of that process Unlike most philosophers who only invoke Darwinian metaphors in a casual way Hull takes the analogy between the biological evolution of species and the growth of scientific knowledge quite seriously and by providing abstract definitions of terms such as replicator interactor and lineage he makes it possible for us to see clearly the structural similarities between the two historical processes Others here today will comment on how tight that analogy really is I must remark in passing that I have never understood the intense interest evolutionary which epistemologists take in this comparison Surely our major job is to understand how science works perhaps by using evolutionary theory as a fallible heuristic but nothing seems to hinge on the extent of the formal analogy My main concern would be with the extent to which the evolutionary analogy illuminates what is distinctive about scientific development as opposed to other branches of intellectual history For example Elaine Pagels story of the struggle between the early Gnostics and what we would now consider the more orthodox variants of Christianity could be translated into quasi-Darwinian terms as follows In the first few centuries after the death of Jesus two important theological systems cf genotypes existed Each had its own gospels The four orthodox gospels Matthew Mark Luke John spoke of the bodily resurrection of Christ The gnostic gospels eg those of Mary Magdalene and Philip on the other hand spoke only of spiritual resurrection and implied that the post-crucifixation sightings of Jesus were really mystical visions not observation reports These two theologies were embodied in and influenced the actions of two groups of Christians cf phenotypes The orthodox group were more successful in gaining converts not because of any intrinsic theological superiority but because their doctrine of apostolic succession passed down from Peter
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