Facts, laws, etc.

Ronald Kephart (rkephart@OSPREY.UNF.EDU)
Thu, 7 Mar 1996 14:58:15 -0500

On Wed, 6 Mar 1996, Adrian Tanner wrote:

> I have also wondered about calling evolution a 'fact'.
> Once upon a time there was born in someone's head an 'idea'; it developed to
> become a 'hypothesis', and later joined together to become a complex set of
> hypotheses called a 'theory'; finally, when enough confirming observations,
> and no disconfirming ones, had been made, it became a 'law'. To avoid
> confusing it with it's legal namesake, it is often spoken of a 'scientific'
> or 'natural' law.
> Evolution is such a law, rather than a fact, isn't it?

I still feel that evolution, change in gene frequencies over time, is the fact
which can be observed. It seems to me that "law" applies to the patterns which
govern evolution as a process, patterns such as independent assortment,
segregation, and so on (my genetics is on a very elementary level). Taken
together with other concepts such as punctuated equilibrium, the patterns form a
theory or model which describes/explains the fact of evolution. Yes? No?

Ronald Kephart
Department of Language & Literature
University of North Florida
Jacksonville, FL 32224
ph: 904-646-2580