Pub. Date:
Punctuated Equilibrium

Punctuated Equilibrium

by Stephen Jay GouldStephen Jay Gould
Current price is , Original price is $29.5. You

Temporarily Out of Stock Online

Please check back later for updated availability.


In 1972 Stephen Jay Gould took the scientific world by storm with his paper on punctuated equilibrium, written with Niles Eldredge. Challenging a core assumption of Darwin's theory of evolution, it launched the career of one of the most influential evolutionary biologists of our time--perhaps the best known since Darwin.

Now, thirty-five years later, and five years after his untimely death, Punctuated Equilibrium (originally published as the central chapter of Gould's masterwork, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory) offers his only book-length testament on an idea he fiercely promoted, repeatedly refined, and tirelessly defended. Punctuated equilibrium holds that the great majority of species originate in geological moments (punctuations) and persist in stasis. The idea was hotly debated because it forced biologists to rethink entrenched ideas about evolutionary patterns and processes. But as Gould shows here in his typically exhaustive coverage, the idea has become the foundation of a new view of hierarchical selection and macroevolution.

What emerges strikingly from this book is that punctuated equilibrium represents a much broader paradigm about the nature of change--a worldview that may be judged as a distinctive and important movement within recent intellectual history. Indeed we may now be living within a punctuation, and our awareness of what this means may be the enduring legacy of one of America's best-loved scientists.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674024441
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 05/31/2007
Pages: 408
Sales rank: 705,566
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.69(d)

About the Author

Stephen Jay Gould was Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University and Vincent Astor Visiting Professor of Biology at New York University. A MacArthur Prize Fellow, he received innumerable honors and awards and wrote many books, including Ontogeny and Phylogeny and Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle (both from Harvard).

Date of Birth:

September 10, 1941

Date of Death:

May 20, 2002

Place of Birth:

New York, New York

Place of Death:

Boston, Massachusetts


B.S., Antioch College, 1963; Ph.D., Columbia University, 1967

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. What Every Paleontologist Knows

    • An Introductory Example
    • Testimonials to Common Knowledge
    • Darwinian Solutions and Paradoxes
    • The Paradox of Insulation from Disproof
    • The Paradox of Stymied Practice

  • 2. The Primary Claims of Punctuated Equilibrium

    • Data and Definitions
    • Microevolutionary Links
    • Macroevolutionary Implications
    • Tempo and the Significance of Stasis
    • Mode and the Speciational Foundation of Macroevolution

  • 3. The Scientific Debate on Punctuated Equilibrium: Critiques and Responses

    • Critiques Based on the Definability of Paleontological Species
    • Empirical Affirmation
    • Reasons for a Potential Systematic Underestimation of Biospecies by Paleospecies
    • Reasons for a Potential Systematic Overestimation of Biospecies by Paleospecies
    • Reasons Why an Observed Punctuational Pattern Might Not Represent Speciation
    • Critiques Based on Denying Events of Speciation as the Primary Locus of Change
    • Critiques Based on Supposed Failures of Empirical Results to Affirm Predictions of Punctuated Equilibrium
    • Claims for Empirical Refutation by Cases
    • Phenotypes
    • Genotypes
    • Empirical Tests of Conformity with Models

  • 4. Sources of Data for Testing Punctuated Equilibrium

    • Preamble
    • The Equilibrium in Punctuated Equilibrium: Quantitatively Documented Patterns of Stasis in Unbranched Segments of Lineages
    • The Punctuations of Punctuated Equilibrium: Tempo and Mode in the Origin of Paleospecies
    • The Inference of Cladogenesis by the Criterion of Ancestral Survival
    • The “Dissection” of Punctuations to Infer Both Existence and Modality
    • Time
    • Geography
    • Morphometric Mode
    • Proper and Adequate Tests of Relative Frequencies: The Strong Empirical Validation of Punctuated Equilibrium
    • The Indispensability of Data on Relative Frequencies
    • Relative Frequencies for Higher Taxa in Entire Biotas
    • Relative Frequencies for Entire Clades
    • Causal Clues from Differential Patterns of Relative Frequencies

  • 5. The Broader Implications of Punctuated Equilibrium for Evolutionary Theory and General Notions of Change

    • What Changes May Punctuated Equilibrium Instigate in Our Views about Evolutionary Mechanisms and the History of Life?
    • The Explanation and Broader Meaning of Stasis
    • Frequency
    • Generality
    • Causality
    • Punctuation, the Origin of New Macroevolutionary Individuals, and Resulting Implications for Evolutionary Theory
    • Trends
    • The Speciational Reformulation of Macroevolution
    • Ecological and Higher-Level Extensions
    • Punctuation All the Way Up and Down? The Generalization and Broader Utility of Punctuated Equilibrium (in More Than a Metaphorical Sense) at Other Levels of Evolution, and for Other Disciplines In and Outside the Natural Sciences
    • General Models for Punctuated Equilibrium
    • Punctuational Change at Other Levels and Scales of Evolution
    • A Preliminary Note on Homology and Analogy in the Conceptual Realm
    • Punctuation Below the Species Level
    • Punctuation Above the Species Level
    • Punctuational Models in Other Disciplines: Towards a General Theory of Change
    • Principles for a Choice of Examples
    • Examples from the History of Human Artifacts and Cultures
    • Examples from Human Institutions and Theories about the Natural World
    • Two Concluding Examples, a General Statement, and a Coda

  • Appendix: A Largely Sociological (and Fully Partisan) History of the Impact and Critique of Punctuated Equilibrium

    • The Entrance of Punctuated Equilibrium into Common Language and General Culture
    • An Episodic History of Punctuated Equilibrium
    • Early Stages and Future Contexts
    • Creationist Misappropriation of Punctuated Equilibrium
    • Punctuated Equilibrium in Journalism and Textbooks
    • The Personal Aspect of Professional Reaction
    • The Case Ad Hominem against Punctuated Equilibrium
    • An Interlude on Sources of Error
    • The Wages of Jealousy
    • The Descent to Nastiness
    • The Most Unkindest Cut of All
    • The Wisdom of Agassiz’s and von Baer’s Threefold History of Scientific Ideas
    • A Coda on the Kindness and Generosity of Most Colleagues

  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Illustration Credits
  • Index

Customer Reviews