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The Limitations of Neo-Darwinism and Evidence for a Whiteheadian Theory of Evolution

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The dominant neo-Darwinian theory of evolution locates the causes of evolutionary change in the random mutation of genes and in the environment. The animal organisms are viewed as passive in this process. However, there is a great deal of evidence that animal activity plays a large role in evolution. Some of this, no doubt, is random or even mechanically determined. However, there are good reasons to think that some of it is purposive and intelligent. Animals repeat successful actions and learn them from other members of the species. These actions may prove beneficial for survival; so genes that facilitate them are naturally selected. Animal action also changes the environment. Including human beings in an evolutionary development that is partly determined by intelligent and purposive behavior does not have the reductionistic and nihilistic implications of currently standard teaching about evolution.


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