James Barham on Mary Jane West-Eberhard and teleology

UD has featured a post by James Barham on the work of Mary Jane  West-Eberhard.  I shall be questioning Barham’s conclusions.

Unlike the subject of my previous column in this series, James A. Shapiro, she does not present her ideas as revolutionary or as a mortal threat to the Darwinian worldview.

In my opinion (as a non-biologist), she is entirely correct about that.

And yet, I shall argue that West-Eberhard—who is a researcher at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, as well as a professor of biology at the University of Costa Rica—has made a foudational contribution to a new and revolutionary approach to evolutionary theorizing that bids fair (whatever her expressed intentions) to turn mainstream Darwinism on its head.

Perhaps it challenges the strawman version of Darwinism that creationists and ID proponents love to criticize.  But I don’t see it as any challenge at all to Darwinism. Continue reading