Gradualism

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Gradualism, from the Latin gradus ("step"), is a hypothesis, a theory or a tenet assuming that change comes about gradually or that variation is gradual in nature and happens over time as opposed to in large steps. [1] Uniformitarianism, incrementalism, and reformism are similar concepts.

Uniformitarianism Assumption that the natural laws and processes of the universe are constant through time and space

Uniformitarianism, also known as the Doctrine of Uniformity, is the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in our present-day scientific observations have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe. It refers to invariance in the metaphysical principles underpinning science, such as the constancy of cause and effect throughout space-time, but has also been used to describe spatiotemporal invariance of physical laws. Though an unprovable postulate that cannot be verified using the scientific method, some consider that uniformitarianism should be a required first principle in scientific research. Other scientists disagree and consider that nature is not absolutely uniform, even though it does exhibit certain regularities.

Incrementalism is a method of working by adding to a project using many small incremental changes instead of a few large jumps. Logical incrementalism implies that the steps in the process are sensible. Logical incrementalism focuses on "the Power-Behavioral Approach to planning rather than to the Formal Systems Planning Approach". In public policy, incrementalism is the method of change by which many small policy changes are enacted over time in order to create a larger broad based policy change. This was the theoretical policy of rationality developed by Lindblom to be seen as a middle way between the rational actor model and bounded rationality, as both long term goal driven policy rationality and satisficing were not seen as adequate.

Reformism is a political doctrine advocating the reform of an existing system or institution instead of its abolition and replacement. Within the socialist movement, reformism is the view that gradual changes through existing institutions can eventually lead to fundamental changes in a society’s political and economic systems. Reformism as a political tendency and hypothesis of social change grew out of opposition to revolutionary socialism, which contends that revolutionary upheaval is a necessary precondition for the structural changes necessary to transform a capitalist system to a qualitatively different socialist economic system.

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Geology and biology

In the natural sciences, gradualism is the theory which holds that profound change is the cumulative product of slow but continuous processes, often contrasted with catastrophism. The theory was proposed in 1795 by James Hutton, a Scottish geologist, and was later incorporated into Charles Lyell's theory of uniformitarianism. Tenets from both theories were applied to biology and formed the basis of early evolutionary theory.

A theory is a contemplative and rational type of abstract or generalizing thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking often is associated with such processes like observational study, research. Theories may either be scientific or other than scientific. Depending on the context, the results might, for example, include generalized explanations of how nature works. The word has its roots in ancient Greek, but in modern use it has taken on several related meanings.

Catastrophism is the theory that the Earth had largely been shaped by sudden, short-lived, violent events, possibly worldwide in scope. This is in contrast to uniformitarianism, in which slow incremental changes, such as erosion, created all the Earth's geological features. Uniformitarianism held that the present was the key to the past, and that all geological processes throughout the past were like those that can be observed now. Since the early disputes, a more inclusive and integrated view of geologic events has developed, in which the scientific consensus accepts that there were some catastrophic events in the geologic past, but these were explicable as extreme examples of natural processes which can occur.

James Hutton Scottish geologist and physician

James Hutton was a Scottish geologist, physician, chemical manufacturer, naturalist, and experimental agriculturalist. He contributed to what was later called uniformitarianism—a fundamental principle of geology—that explains the features of the Earth's crust by means of natural processes over geologic time. Hutton's work helped to establish geology as a science, and as a result he is often referred to as the "Father of Modern Geology", though these principles were already in use by others including Buffon.

Charles Darwin was influenced by Lyell's Principles of Geology, which explained both uniformitarian methodology and theory. Using uniformitarianism, which states that one cannot make an appeal to any force or phenomenon which cannot presently be observed (see catastrophism), Darwin theorized that the evolutionary process must occur gradually, not in saltations, since saltations are not presently observed, and extreme deviations from the usual phenotypic variation would be more likely to be selected against.

Charles Darwin British naturalist, author of "On the origin of species, by means of natural selection"

Charles Robert Darwin, was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. His proposition that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors is now widely accepted, and considered a foundational concept in science. In a joint publication with Alfred Russel Wallace, he introduced his scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection, in which the struggle for existence has a similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding.

Saltation (biology) mutational change from one generation to the next

In biology, saltation is a sudden and large mutational change from one generation to the next, potentially causing single-step speciation. This was historically offered as an alternative to Darwinism. Some forms of mutationism were effectively saltationist, implying large discontinuous jumps.

Gradualism is often confused with the concept of phyletic gradualism. It is a term coined by Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge to contrast with their model of punctuated equilibrium, which is gradualist itself, but argues that most evolution is marked by long periods of evolutionary stability (called stasis), which is punctuated by rare instances of branching evolution. [2]

Phyletic gradualism

Phyletic gradualism is a model of evolution which theorizes that most speciation is slow, uniform and gradual. When evolution occurs in this mode, it is usually by the steady transformation of a whole species into a new one. In this view no clear line of demarcation exists between an ancestral species and a descendant species, unless splitting occurs. The theory is contrasted with punctuated equilibrium.

Stephen Jay Gould American evolutionary biologist and historian of science

Stephen Jay Gould was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read authors of popular science of his generation. Gould spent most of his career teaching at Harvard University and working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In 1996, Gould was hired as the Vincent Astor Visiting Research Professor of Biology at New York University, where he divided his time teaching there and at Harvard.

Niles Eldredge is a U.S. biologist and paleontologist, who, along with Stephen Jay Gould, proposed the theory of punctuated equilibrium in 1972.

Phyletic gradualism

Phyletic gradualism is a model of evolution which theorizes that most speciation is slow, uniform and gradual. [3] When evolution occurs in this mode, it is usually by the steady transformation of a whole species into a new one (through a process called anagenesis). In this view no clear line of demarcation exists between an ancestral species and a descendant species, unless splitting occurs.

Evolution Change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations

Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the expressions of genes that are passed on from parent to offspring during reproduction. Different characteristics tend to exist within any given population as a result of mutation, genetic recombination and other sources of genetic variation. Evolution occurs when evolutionary processes such as natural selection and genetic drift act on this variation, resulting in certain characteristics becoming more common or rare within a population. It is this process of evolution that has given rise to biodiversity at every level of biological organisation, including the levels of species, individual organisms and molecules.

Speciation The evolutionary process by which populations evolve to become distinct species

Speciation is the evolutionary process by which populations evolve to become distinct species. The biologist Orator F. Cook coined the term in 1906 for cladogenesis, the splitting of lineages, as opposed to anagenesis, phyletic evolution within lineages. Charles Darwin was the first to describe the role of natural selection in speciation in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species. He also identified sexual selection as a likely mechanism, but found it problematic.

In biology, a species is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, morphology, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined.

Punctuated gradualism

Punctuated gradualism is a microevolutionary hypothesis that refers to a species that has "relative stasis over a considerable part of its total duration [and] underwent periodic, relatively rapid, morphologic change that did not lead to lineage branching". It is one of the three common models of evolution. While the traditional model of palaeontology, the phylogenetic model, states that features evolved slowly without any direct association with speciation, the relatively newer and more controversial idea of punctuated equilibrium claims that major evolutionary changes don't happen over a gradual period but in localized, rare, rapid events of branching speciation. Punctuated gradualism is considered to be a variation of these models, lying somewhere in between the phyletic gradualism model and the punctuated equilibrium model. It states that speciation is not needed for a lineage to rapidly evolve from one equilibrium to another but may show rapid transitions between long-stable states.

Punctuated gradualism

Punctuated gradualism is a microevolutionary hypothesis that refers to a species that has "relative stasis over a considerable part of its total duration [and] underwent periodic, relatively rapid, morphologic change that did not lead to lineage branching". It is one of the three common models of evolution.

Microevolution The change in allele frequencies that occurs over time within a population

Microevolution is the change in allele frequencies that occurs over time within a population. This change is due to four different processes: mutation, selection, gene flow and genetic drift. This change happens over a relatively short amount of time compared to the changes termed macroevolution which is where greater differences in the population occur.

Hypothesis Proposed explanation for an observation, phenomenon, or scientific problem

A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. For a hypothesis to be a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it. Scientists generally base scientific hypotheses on previous observations that cannot satisfactorily be explained with the available scientific theories. Even though the words "hypothesis" and "theory" are often used synonymously, a scientific hypothesis is not the same as a scientific theory. A working hypothesis is a provisionally accepted hypothesis proposed for further research, in a process beginning with an educated guess or thought.

Politics and society

In politics, gradualism is the hypothesis that social change can be achieved in small, discrete increments rather than in abrupt strokes such as revolutions or uprisings. Gradualism is one of the defining features of political liberalism and reformism. [4] Machiavellian politics pushes politicians to espouse gradualism.

In socialist politics and within the socialist movement, the concept of gradualism is frequently distinguished from reformism, with the former insisting that short-term goals need to be formulated and implemented in such a way that they inevitably lead into long-term goals. It is most commonly associated with the libertarian socialist concept of dual power and is seen as a middle way between reformism and revolutionism.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was opposed to the idea of gradualism as a method of eliminating segregation. The government wanted to try to integrate African-Americans and European-Americans slowly into the same society, but many believed it was a way for the government to put off actually doing anything about racial segregation:

This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech, delivered August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. [5]

Linguistics and language change

In linguistics, language change is seen as gradual, the product of chain reactions and subject to cyclic drift. [6] The view that creole languages are the product of catastrophism is heavily disputed.[ citation needed ]

Morality

Christianity

Buddhism and other Oriental philosophies

Gradualism is the approach of certain schools of Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies (e.g. Theravada or Yoga), that enlightenment can be achieved step by step, through an arduous practice. The opposite approach, that insight is attained all at once, is called subitism. The debate on the issue was very important to the history of the development of Zen, which rejected gradualism, [7] and to the establishment of the opposite approach within the Tibetan Buddhism, after the Debate of Samye. It was continued in other schools of Indian and Chinese philosophy. [8]

Other types

Contradictorial gradualism is the paraconsistent treatment of fuzziness developed by Lorenzo Peña which regards true contradictions as situations wherein a state of affairs enjoys only partial existence.

Gradualism in social change implemented through reformist means is a moral principle to which the Fabian Society is committed. In a more general way, reformism is the assumption that gradual changes through and within existing institutions can ultimately change a society's fundamental economic system and political structures; and that an accumulation of reforms can lead to the emergence of an entirely different economic system and form of society than present-day capitalism. That hypothesis of social change grew out of opposition to revolutionary socialism, which contends that revolution is necessary for fundamental structural changes to occur.

In the terminology of NWO-related speculations, gradualism refers to the gradual implementation of a totalitarian world government.

See also

Related Research Articles

Punctuated equilibrium theory in evolutionary biology

Punctuated equilibrium is a theory in evolutionary biology which proposes that once a species appears in the fossil record the population will become stable, showing little evolutionary change for most of its geological history. This state of little or no morphological change is called stasis. When significant evolutionary change occurs, the theory proposes that it is generally restricted to rare and geologically rapid events of branching speciation called cladogenesis. Cladogenesis is the process by which a species splits into two distinct species, rather than one species gradually transforming into another.

Quantum evolution Evolution where transitional forms are particularly unstable and do not last long

Quantum evolution is a component of George Gaylord Simpson's multi-tempoed theory of evolution proposed to explain the rapid emergence of higher taxonomic groups in the fossil record. According to Simpson, evolutionary rates differ from group to group and even among closely related lineages. These different rates of evolutionary change were designated by Simpson as horotelic, bradytelic, and tachytelic.

The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time (ISBN 0-679-40003-6) is a 1994 nonfiction book about evolutionary biology, written by Jonathan Weiner. It won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. In 2014, a substantially unchanged 20th-anniversary edition e-book was issued with a preface by the author.

Cladogenesis evolutionary splitting of species

Cladogenesis is an evolutionary splitting of a parent species into two distinct species, forming a clade.

Tempo and Mode in Evolution (1944) was George Gaylord Simpson's seminal contribution to the evolutionary synthesis, which integrated the facts of paleontology with those of genetics and natural selection.

Pseudoextinction

Pseudoextinction of a species occurs when all members of the species are extinct, but members of a daughter species remain alive. The term pseudoextinction refers to the evolution of a species into a new form, with the resultant disappearance of the ancestral form. Pseudoextinction results in the relationship between ancestor and descendant still existing even though the ancestor species no longer exists.

<i>The Structure of Evolutionary Theory</i> book on macroevolutionary theory by Stephen Jay Gould

The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (2002) is Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould's technical book on macroevolution and the historical development of evolutionary theory. The book was twenty years in the making, published just two months before Gould's death. Aimed primarily at professionals, the volume is divided into two parts. The first is a historical study of classical evolutionary thought, drawing extensively upon primary documents; the second is a constructive critique of the modern synthesis, and presents a case for an interpretation of biological evolution based largely on hierarchical selection, and the theory of punctuated equilibrium.

<i>Dawkins vs. Gould</i> Book by Kim Sterelny

Dawkins vs. Gould: Survival of the Fittest is a book about the differing views of biologists Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould by philosopher of biology Kim Sterelny. When first published in 2001 it became an international best-seller. A new edition was published in 2007 to include Gould's The Structure of Evolutionary Theory finished shortly before his death in 2002, and more recent works by Dawkins. The synopsis below is from the 2007 publication.

Punctuated equilibrium in social theory is a conceptual framework for understanding the process of change in complex social systems. The approach studies the evolution of policy change, including the evolution of conflicts. The theory posits that most social systems exist in an extended period of stasis, which may be punctuated by sudden shifts leading to radical change. The theory was largely inspired by the evolutionary biology theory of punctuated equilibrium developed by paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould.

Court jester hypothesis Hypothesis in evolutionary biology

The court jester hypothesis is used in reference to the idea that abiotic forces, rather than biotic competition between species, function as a major driving force behind the processes in evolution which produce speciation. In evolutionary theory, the court-jester hypothesis contrasts the Red Queen hypothesis.

The rate of evolution is a variable of considerable interest in evolutionary biology. It concerns the limits of adaptation to natural environments as well as the limits of artificial selection.

Endogenosymbiosis is an evolutionary process, proposed by the evolutionary and environmental biologist Roberto Cazzolla Gatti, in which "gene carriers" and symbiotic prokaryotic cells could share parts or all of their genomes in an endogenous symbiotic relationship with their hosts.

<i>Frozen Evolution</i>

Frozen Evolution is a 2008 book written by parasitologist Jaroslav Flegr, which aims to explain modern developments in evolutionary biology. It also contains information boxes which clarify important topics in science like peer review, scientific journals, citation metrics, philosophy of science, paradigm shifts, and Occam's razor. Flegr's previous research in toxoplasmosis is also mentioned.

References

  1. Brian McGowran. (2008). Biostratigraphy: Microfossils and Geological Time. Cambridge University Press. p. 384. ISBN   978-0521048170
  2. Eldredge, Niles, and S. J. Gould (1972). "Punctuated equilibria: an alternative to phyletic gradualism." In T.J.M. Schopf, ed., Models in Paleobiology. San Francisco: Freeman, Cooper and Company, pp. 82-115.
  3. Eldredge, N. and S. J. Gould (1972). "Punctuated equilibria: an alternative to phyletic gradualism" In T.J.M. Schopf, ed., Models in Paleobiology. San Francisco: Freeman Cooper. p. 84.
  4. Paul Blackledge (2013). "Left reformism, the state and the problem of socialist politics today". International Socialist Journal. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  5. King, Martin Luther (August 28, 1963). "I have a dream speech" . Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  6. Henri Wittmann (1983). "Les réactions en chaîne en morphologie diachronique." Actes du Colloque de la Société internationale de linguistique fonctionnelle 10.285-92.[ permanent dead link ]
  7. Bernard Faure, Chan/Zen Studies in English: The State Of The Field
  8. Gregory, Peter N. (editor) (1991), Sudden and Gradual. Approaches to Enlightenment in Chinese Thought, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private LimitedCS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)