ANSWERS: 3
  • I believe SJ Gould asserts that Dawkin's selfish gene theory doesn't readily explain how functionally inert parts of the body (eg the chin) come about. I can't tell you who's right though, perhaps you could check out The Selfish Gene and Dinosaur in a Haystack.
  • Gould and Eldredge's Punctuated Equilibrium Theory. But it is a disagreement of scale: Gould doeas not deny that slow-and-steady evolution goes on between his bursts of sharp change, while Dawkins does not assert that evolution proceeds at a an exactly constant speed. So the only disagreement is how big and (in)frequent the sharp changes are compared to the background drift. Personally, I come down closer to Gould than Dawkins: I think Dawkins view shows a rare lack of faith in the power of selection,
  • No. Both Dawkins and Gould believe fervently in the basic mechanism of Darwinian Evolution: random changed followed by selection by survival of those best adapted to the environment. Gould makes a big play of contingency: sometimes the winner in the race is the one who happened to be in the right place at the right time, and if you would rewind the "tape" of history, the winner next time might be different; Dawkins would agree that this happens, but it is not a big deal. I should emphasize that they are 98% in agreement. Gould thinks that a lot of species spend a lot of time not evolving very much because they have reached a "local optimum" - given the constraints the variation available in their genes, they cannot get any better for the environment in which they find themselves. Then the environment changes: new predator, climate change, move to new place, whatever. Suddenly they are no longer optimal for the new environment, and will evolve like the clappers to fit themselves to the change circumstances. Their chance of being fossilised during this spurt is small, which is why new species seem to appear in a jump. Dawkins agrees that this can happen, but that it is not a major mechanism, and can be ignored for most purposes. he thinks most species spend most of their time steadily adapting to the environment. But I must emphasize again: this is a small bit of technical detail, and they agree on the overwhelmin mass of evolutionary theory.

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