Article ID: CBB704610076

Darwin at Orchis Bank: Selection after the Origin (2016)


Darwin's first publication after the Origin of Species was a volume on orchids that expanded on the theory of adaptation through natural selection introduced in his opus. Here I argue that On the Various Contrivances by which British and Foreign Orchids are Fertilised by Insects (1862) is not merely an empirical confirmation of his theory. In response to immediate criticisms of his metaphor of natural selection, Darwin uses Orchids to present adaptation as the result of innumerable natural laws, rather than discrete acts analogous to conscious choices. The means of selection among polliniferous plants cannot be neatly classed under the Origin's categories of artificial, natural, or sexual selection. Along with Darwin's exploration of sexual selection in his later works, Orchids serves to undo the restrictive metaphor so firmly established by the Origin and to win over those of Darwin's contemporaries who were committed advocates of natural law but suspicious of evolution by natural selection.

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Authors & Contributors
Maienschein, Jane A.
Ruse, Michael
Creath, Richard
Richards, Robert John
Browne, E. Janet
Hoquet, Thierry
Victorian Studies
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Journal for General Philosophy of Science
Journal of the History of Biology
Cambridge University Press
Oxford University Press
W. W. Norton & Co.
Princeton University Press
University of Chicago Press
Natural selection
Controversies and disputes
Darwin, Charles Robert
Wallace, Alfred Russel
Mill, John Stuart
Schomburgk, Robert Hermann
Owen, Richard
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
18th century
21st century
20th century, early
Great Britain
Amazon River Region (South America)
Guyana; British Guiana

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