Article ID: CBB001252323

Mendel and the Path to Genetics: Portraying Science as a Social Process (2013)


Kampourakis, Kostas (Author)

Science and Education
Volume: 22, no. 2
Issue: 2
Pages: 293-324

Publication Date: 2013
Edition Details: Part of a special issue, “Philosophical Considerations in the Teaching of Biology, Part II - Evolution, Development and Genetics”
Language: English

Textbook descriptions of the foundations of Genetics give the impression that besides Mendel's no other research on heredity took place during the nineteenth century. However, the publication of the Origin of Species in 1859, and the criticism that it received, placed the study of heredity at the centre of biological thought. Consequently, Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin himself, Francis Galton, William Keith Brooks, Carl von Nägeli, August Weismann, and Hugo de Vries attempted to develop theories of heredity under an evolutionary perspective, and they were all influenced by each other in various ways. Nonetheless, only Nägeli became aware of Mendel's experimental work; it has also been questioned whether Mendel even had the intention to develop a theory of heredity. In this article, a short presentation of these theories is made, based on the original writings. The major aim of this article is to suggest that Mendel was definitely not the only one studying heredity before 1900, if he even did this, as may be inferred by textbooks. Although his work had a major impact after 1900, it had no impact during the latter half of the nineteenth century when an active community of students of heredity emerged. Thus, textbooks should not only present the work of Mendel, but also provide a wider view of the actual history and a depiction of science as a social process.

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Authors & Contributors
Stamhuis, Ida H.
Tudge, Colin
Castañeda, Luzia Aurélia
Pilpel, Avital
Rheinberger, Hans-Jörg
Larson, Edward John
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Journal of the History of Biology
Science and Education
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly
Filosofia e História da Biologia
Hill & Wang
Trafford Publishing
University of Maryland, College Park
Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft
Mendel's law
Probability and statistics
Mendel, Gregor Johann
Galton, Francis
Weismann, August
Darwin, Charles Robert
Vries, Hugo Marie de
Bateson, William
Great Britain
United States
19th century
20th century
20th century, early
21st century
17th century
18th century
Royal Society of London
Cambridge University

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