Reading the history of life
Evolutionary biology is a science or change rather than a science of origins. It is indeed matter of dispute whether questions about origins (e.g., of species, adaptations, or novelties) have a fully legitimate status in science. Parallelism and convergence recurrent in evolutionary change are obstacles to phylogenetic reconstruction, but are also informative per se. Evolutionary biology has witnessed enormous progress since Darwin, but a profitable reading of the history of life is hardly possible as long as a set of impediments are still with us, such as residual progressionist views (scala naturae, morphoclines, Williston's law), and the latent finalism embodied in the notion of genetic programme and in the adultocentric perspective according to which all developmental stages, from the zygote on, are simply preparatory steps towards the generation of a reproductively active adult.
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