The hardening of the modern synthesis

Abstract

In 1937, just as Dobzhansky published the book that later generations would laud as the foundation of the modern synthesis, the American Naturnlist published a symposium on "supraspecific variation in nature and in classification." Alfred C. Kinsey, who later became one of America's most controversial intellectuals for his study of basic behaviors in another sort of WASP,1 led off the symposium with a summary of his extensive work on a family of gall wasps, the Cynipidae. In his article, Kinsey strongly advocated the central theme of the developing synthesis: Evolution at all scales, particularly macroevolution, could be explained by the genetic mechanisms observed in laboratories and local populations. He first complained that some geneticists and naturalists were still impeding a synthesis with their insistence upon causal separation of levels: "Just as some of the geneticists have insisted that the laboratory genetics may explain the nature and origin of Mendelian races, but not of natural species, so others indicate that the qualities of higher categories must be explained on bases other than those involved in species" (1937, p. 208). He then defended the central postulate.

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