ISEMPH Presentation: Tatjana Buklijas

ISEMPH - Tatjana Buklijas, University of Auckland

"Medicine, evolutionary medicine and conceptual change within evolutionary biology"
Tatjana Buklijas
Liggins Institute
University of Auckland
Since the nineteenth century, the relationship between medicine and evolution has gone through peaks and troughs. It depended on the status of Darwinism in science and public life of the day, on fashions in medical education, and was influenced by dominant contemporary ideas about heredity and (the source of) variation. It has been argued that a period of high medical interest in evolution between 1880 and 1940 was followed by five decades of hardly any exchange between the two fields, ending with the emergence of evolutionary medicine around 1990. In my talk I want to briefly survey the history of the relationship between evolution and medicine, and raise questions that emerge by taking a historical perspective. Both early twentieth and early twenty-first century were (and are) periods of intense rethinking of the nature of heredity, source of variation and relationship between the organism and its environment. To what extent did (and have) these developments influence medical interest in evolution? What is the position of the new field of evolutionary medicine towards conceptual change—and controversy—within evolutionary biology?