Marvelling at the Marvel: The Supposed Conversion of A. D. Darbishire to Mendelism

Journal of the History of Biology 33 (2):315 - 347 (2000)
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Abstract

The so-called "biometric-Mendelian controversy" has received much attention from science studies scholars. This paper focuses on one scientist involved in this debate, Arthur Dukinfield Darbishire, who performed a series of hybridization experiments with mice beginning in 1901. Previous historical work on Darbishire's experiments and his later attempt to reconcile Mendelian and biometric views describe Darbishire as eventually being "converted" to Mendelism. I provide a new analysis of this episode in the context of Darbishire's experimental results, his underlying epistemology, and his influence on the broader debate surrounding the rediscovery and acceptance of Mendelism. I investigate various historiographical issues raised by this episode in order to reflect on the idea of "conversion" to a scientific theory. Darbishire was an influential figure who resisted strong forces compelling him to convert prematurely due to his requirements that the new theory account for particularly important anomalous facts and answer the most pressing questions in the field.

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Rachel Allyson Ankeny
University of Adelaide

Citations of this work

Beyond Mendelism and Biometry.Yafeng Shan - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 89 (C):155-163.
‘‘Describing our whole experience’’: The statistical philosophies of W. F. R. Weldon and Karl Pearson.Charles H. Pence - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (4):475-485.
The wild type as concept and in experimental practice: A history of its role in classical genetics and evolutionary theory.Tarquin Holmes - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 63 (C):15-27.

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References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ian Hacking.
William Bateson and the promise of Mendelism.Lindley Darden - 1977 - Journal of the History of Biology 10 (1):87-106.

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