This article seems to enshrine an excessively narrow definition of evolution, based on the neo-Darwinian synthesis, that excessively limits the term. The term can be usefully applied outside biology. Even within biology, the definition given here is excessively narrow, excluding the very possibility of other mechanisms of replication.
As an alternative, I suggest the following four elements for an evolutionary process:
1. It applies to a change process in the characteristics of a population (not to an individual member of the population).
2. The change process involves replication of the individual members of the population, with a strong influence of the characteristics of the ancestor individual(s) on the characteristics of the replicates.
3. The replication process involves some variation.
4. A selection process applies to the replicates.
The above are derived from Maynard Smith's "Problems in Biology" (1986).
In the evolution of species, the population is a species or similar grouping of individuals; the replication process most frequently involves the inheritance of genes from one or two ancestors; the variation is provided by sexual mixing and mutation; and selection is "natural selection".
The development of biological individuals is accomplished by by the evolution of populations of cells within the environment of the body of the individual.
The development of the mind seems to involve the evolution of populations of connections among cells.
Populations of organizations evolve within economies.
Perhaps populations of ideas, words, texts, songs, proverbs, cultural practices, iconic images, and tangible cultural artifacts can also be said to evolve in the sense defined above. Certainly, in popular usage people would like to be able to use the term evolution to apply to these kinds of things. We can help clarify this emerging (evolving ?) usage by including this broader definition of the term.
- No. See definition #1. --Connel MacKenzie 01:18, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
- This level of detail would be better suited to an encyclopaedia such as Wikipedia. Just be glad it is protected against ID and creationist vandalism ;-) --Williamsayers79 08:21, 25 August 2007 (UTC)