Article ID: CBB001022395

The Origins of Species: The Debate between August Weismann and Moritz Wagner (2010)


Weismann's ideas on species transmutation were first expressed in his famous debate with Moritz Wagner on the mechanism of speciation. Wagner suggested that the isolation of a colony from its original source is a preliminary and necessary factor for speciation. Weismann accepted a secondary, facilitating role for isolation, but argued that natural and sexual selection are the primary driving forces of species transmutation, and are always necessary and often sufficient causes for its occurrence. The debate with Wagner, which occurred between 1868 and 1872 within the framework of Darwin's discussions of geographical distribution, was Weismann's first public battle over the mechanism of evolution. This paper, which offers the first comprehensive analysis of this debate, extends previous analyses and throws light on the underlying beliefs and motivations of these early evolutionists, focusing mainly on Weismann's views and showing his commitment to what he later called the all sufficiency of Natural Selection. It led to the crystallization of his ideas on the central and essential role of selection, both natural and sexual, in all processes of evolution, and, already at this early stage in his theoretical thinking, was coupled with sophisticated and nuanced approach to biological organization. The paper also discusses Ernst Mayr's analysis of the debate and highlights aspects of Weismann's views that were overlooked by Mayr and were peripheral to the discussions of other historians of biology.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Book Grosz, Elizabeth; (2011)
Becoming Undone: Darwinian Reflections on Life, Politics, and Art (/isis/citation/CBB001221153/)

Article Mallet, James; (2010)
Why Was Darwin's View of Species Rejected by Twentieth Century Biologists? (/isis/citation/CBB001252809/)

Book Reznick, David N.; (2009)
The Origin Then and Now: An Interpretive Guide to the Origin of Species (/isis/citation/CBB001020595/)

Article Bidau, Claudio J.; (2014)
The Katydid That Was: The Tananá, Stridulation, Henry Walter Bates and Charles Darwin (/isis/citation/CBB001321128/)

Article Colley, Eduardo; Fischer, Marta Luciane; (2013)
Especiação e seus mecanismos: histórico conceitual e avanços recentes (/isis/citation/CBB001420690/)

Article Wilkins, John S.; Nelson, Gareth J.; (2008)
Trémaux on Species: A Theory of Allopatric Speciation (and Punctuated Equilibrium) before Wagner (/isis/citation/CBB000931569/)

Book Evelleen Richards; (2017)
Darwin and the Making of Sexual Selection (/isis/citation/CBB265567977/)

Book Hamlin, Kimberly Ann; (2014)
From Eve to Evolution: Darwin, Science, and Women's Rights in Gilded Age America (/isis/citation/CBB001422038/)

Book Appleman, Philip; (2001)
Darwin: Texts Commentary (/isis/citation/CBB000101919/)

Book Larson, Barbara; Brauer, Fae; (2009)
The Art of Evolution: Darwin, Darwinisms, and Visual Culture (/isis/citation/CBB001035080/)

Article Cela-Conde, Camilo J.; Burges, Lucrecia; Nadal, Marcos; Olivera, Antonio; (2010)
Altruism and Fairness: Unnatural Selection? (/isis/citation/CBB001211678/)

Article Richardson, Angelique; (2010)
Darwin and Reductionisms: Victorian, Neo-Darwinian and Postgenomic Biologies (/isis/citation/CBB001022449/)

Article Smith, Charles H.; (2005)
Alfred Russel Wallace, Past and Future (/isis/citation/CBB001035141/)

Book Johnson, Dirk R.; (2010)
Nietzsche's Anti-Darwinism (/isis/citation/CBB001023122/)

Book Leeuwenburgh, Bart; (2009)
Darwin in Domineesland (/isis/citation/CBB001024341/)

Authors & Contributors
Appleman, Philip
Alter, Stephen G.
Nelson, Gareth J.
Wilkins, John
Reznick, David N.
Ruse, Michael
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Journal of the History of Biology
19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century
Journal of Biogeography
Comptes Rendus Biologies
Biology and Philosophy
University of Chicago Press
W. W. Norton & Co.
Princeton University Press
Cambridge University Press
Dartmouth College Press
Sexual selection
Natural selection
Darwin, Charles Robert
Mayr, Ernst
Weismann, August
Dawkins, Richard
Wilson, Edward Osborne
Dennett, Daniel Clement
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
20th century, early
Great Britain
Amazon River Region (South America)
United States
Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.)

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment