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Gould’s Laws

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


Much of Stephen Jay Gould’s legacy is dominated by his views on the contingency of evolutionary history expressed in his classic Wonderful Life. However, Gould also campaigned relentlessly for a “nomothetic” paleontology. How do these commitments hang together? I argue that Gould’s conception of science and natural law combined with his commitment to contingency to produce an evolutionary science centered around the formulation of higher-level evolutionary laws.

Research Article
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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Thanks to John Beatty, Doug Erwin, Dan McShea, Alan Rocke, Carl Simpson, and David Sepkoski for valuable discussion and feedback. Special thanks to Dave Bapst for teaching me how to do Marine Biological Laboratory–style computer simulations.


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