Article ID: CBB962592333

The Fate of the Method of ‘Paradigms’ in Paleobiology (2018)


An earlier article described the mid-twentieth century origins of the method of "paradigms" in paleobiology, as a way of making testable hypotheses about the functional morphology of extinct organisms. The present article describes the use of "paradigms" through the 1970s and, briefly, to the end of the century. After I had proposed the paradigm method to help interpret the ecological history of brachiopods, my students developed it in relation to that and other invertebrate phyla, notably in Euan Clarkson's analysis of vision in trilobites. David Raup's computer-aided "theoretical morphology" was then combined with my functional or adaptive emphasis, in Adolf Seilacher's tripartite "constructional morphology." Stephen Jay Gould, who had strongly endorsed the method, later switched to criticizing the "adaptationist program" he claimed it embodied. Although the explicit use of paradigms in paleobiology had declined by the end of the century, the method was tacitly subsumed into functional morphology as "biomechanics."

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Authors & Contributors
Sepkoski, David Christopher
Smocovitis, Vassiliki Betty
Jewett, Andrew
Richardson, Sarah
Dresow, Max
Stenmark, Mikael
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Social Studies of Science
Journal of the History of Biology
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences
Ziran Kexueshi Yanjiu (Studies in the History of Natural Sciences)
Oxford University Press
Prometheus Books
Harvard University
Edition Open Access
Revolutions in science
Gould, Stephen Jay
Kuhn, Thomas S.
Eldredge, Niles
Latour, Bruno
Sepkoski, John
Kripp, Dominik von
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century
United States

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