Article ID: CBB284116388

Ernst Mayr’s interactions with J. B. S. Haldane (2016)


Ernst Mayr and J. B. S. Haldane, major contributors to the ‘modern synthesis’ in evolutionary theory, set an example of how scientific disagreements need not come in the way of friendship. After getting acquainted, they kept discussing issues related to evolution until just before Haldane’s death in 1964. Their dissimilar backgrounds meant that they adopted different approaches. A major disagreement emerged regarding the right way to look at the role of genes in evolution. Mayr felt that the elementary models of population genetics were oversimplifications and therefore inadequate for representing evolutionary processes, though he was not consistent in his attitude. Haldane, on the other hand, maintained that the mathematical treatment of simple models had an important role to play. The Mayr-Haldane interactions illustrate divergent viewpoints concerning the utility of mathematics in biology.

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Authors & Contributors
Sarkar, Sahotra
Hans-Joachim Niemann
Subramanian, Samanth
Racine, Valerie
Merlin, Francesca
Green, Lisa Anne
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Biology and Philosophy
Journal of the History of Biology
Archives of Natural History
University of California, Riverside
Arizona State University
W. W. Norton & Co.
Oxford University Press
National Academies Press
Philosophy of science
Philosophy of biology
Mayr, Ernst
Haldane, John Burdon Sanderson
Darwin, Charles Robert
Dobzhansky, Theodosius
Müller, Hermann Joseph
Lamarck, Jean Baptiste Antoine Pierre de Monet de
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century
21st century
20th century, early
19th century
Great Britain
United States

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