UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies



This page lists some of Prof Joe Cain's recent publications. It is not exhaustive. Search UCL research publications database for Cain (Web).

1. Synthesis period in 20thC evolutionary studies 

Cain, Joe. 2013. Synthesis Period in Evolutionary Studies. In Ruse, Michael (ed.). 2013. Cambridge Encyclopedia of Darwin and Evolutionary Thought, The. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 282-292.

Cain, Joe. 2010. Julian Huxley, General Biology and the London Zoo, 1935–42. Notes and Records of the Royal Society 64: 359-378.

DOI: 10.1098/rsnr.2010.0067

Abstract: While Secretary of the Zoological Society of London (1935–42), Julian Huxley used that institution to undertake several types of reform related to his promotion of ‘general biology’. Huxley's goal was to place synthetic, analytical and explanatory work at the centre of the life sciences. Here, zoological specifics served only as instances of generic processes. Huxley's campaigning fitted both into his own lifelong obsession with synoptic views and into much larger transformations in the epistemic culture of the life sciences during the interwar years. However, such campaigns also had their detractors, and the Zoological Society of London provides a superb example of the backlash provoked against these reforms. In 1942 that backlash led directly to Huxley's dismissal as Secretary of that society. This episode serves as a reminder to understand the plurality of views in play during any historical period. In this case, general biology was resisted in a factional dispute over what should be the priority of the life sciences: objects versus processes, induction versus explanation, and particulars versus generics. 

Cain, Joe. 2009. Rethinking the Synthesis Period in Evolutionary Studies. Journal of the History of Biology 42: 621-648.

DOI: 10.1007/s10739-009-9206-z

This paper received "special commendation" by judges for the BSHS 2010 Slade Prize.

Abstract: I propose we abandon the unit concept of “the evolutionary synthesis”. There was much more to evolutionary studies in the 1920s and 1930s than is suggested in our commonplace narratives of this object in history. Instead, four organising threads capture much of evolutionary studies at this time. First, the nature of species and the process of speciation were dominating, unifying subjects. Second, research into these subjects developed along four main lines, or problem complexes: variation, divergence, isolation, and selection. Some calls for ‹synthesis’ focused on these problem complexes (sometimes on one of these; other times, all). In these calls, comprehensive and pluralist compendia of plausibly relevant elements were preferred over reaching consensus about the value of particular formulae. Third, increasing confidence in the study of common problems coincided with methodological and epistemic changes associated with experimental taxonomy. Finally, the surge of interest in species problems and speciation in the 1930s is intimately tied to larger trends, especially a shifting balance in the life sciences towards process-based biologies and away from object-based naturalist disciplines. Advocates of synthesis in evolution supported, and were adapting to, these larger trends.

Cain, Joe. 2009. Ritual Patricide: Why Stephen Jay Gould Assassinated George Gaylord Simpson. In David Sepkoski and Michael Ruse (eds.). The Paleobiological Revolution: Essays on the Growth of Modern Paleontology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), pp. 346-363. Order UK or US.

Abstract: Simpson was the undisputed American heavy-weight in macro-evolutionary theory prior to paleobiology’s disciplinary formation in the 1970s. Simpson’s intellectual influence on this next generation of thinkers is tied intimately to aggressive and bitter disputes regarding continuity versus originality. In the process, Simpson’s macro-evolutionary views were attacked in volleys of empirical and theoretical criticism. They also were attacked on historical and philosophical grounds, as workers struggled to distinguish new from old. These attacks took on an intensity well beyond the norm for contentiousness theoretical disputes. These events are best understood as ritual patricide. The fight with Simpson functioned as a unifying force in the frantic discipline building underway in macro-evolutionary studies during the 1970s.

Cain, Joe. 2009. Ernst Mayr and the 'Biology of Birds', in Cain, J. and Ruse, M. (eds.). 2009. Descended from Darwin: Insights into the History of Evolutionary Studies, 1900-1970 (Philadelphia: PA: American Philosophical Society. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, volume 99, part 1). Article | Volume.

Cain, Joe and Messenger, Sharon (eds.). 2009. Charles Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (London: Penguin Classics). Includes Introduction and scholarly materials by Cain.

Cain, Joe. 2009. Express Yourself. Wellcome History 40:32.

Cain, Joe. 2009. [11 articles]. In Evolution: The First Three Billion Years, edited by Michael Ruse and Joseph Travis. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press). ISBN 978-0-674-03175-3.
Order: UK or US
Cain's entries include:
- Chetverikov, Sergi
- Mayr, Ernst
- Huxley, Julian
- Lack, David
- Romer, Alfred
- Simpson, George Gaylord
- Timofeeff-Ressovsky, Nikolai Vladimirovich
- Evolution: The Modern Synthesis
- Genetics and the Origin of Species
- Systematics and the Origin of Species
- Tempo and Mode in Evolution

Cain, Joe. 2008. Arthur James Cain. In New Dictionary of Scientific Biography. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons)

Cain, J. (ed) 2007. Sewall Wright Taught Me (London: Euston Grove Press), 3 volumes.
volume 1: Evolution
volume 2: Genetics
volume 3: Physiological Genetics

Cain, J. (ed) 2007. Regular Contact With Anyone Interested. Documents of the Society for the Study of Speciation. 2nd edition (London: Euston Grove Press), 103p.

Cain, Joe. 2004. Missing items from published bibliographies of George Gaylord Simpson. Archives of Natural History 31: 353-355.

Cain, Joe. 2004. Launching the Society of Systematic Zoology in 1947. In D. Williams and P. Forey. Milestones in Systematics (London: CRC Press), pp. 19-48.

Cain, Joe, ed. 2004. Exploring the borderlands: documents of the Committee on Common Problems of Genetics, Paleontology, and Systematics, 1943-1944. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. 94: xlii + 160.

Cain, Joe. 2003. A matter of perspective: disparate voices in the evolutionary synthesis. Archives of natural history 30: 28-39. (enter "anh30128" when prompted)

Cain, Joe. 2002. Co-opting colleagues: appropriating Dobzhansky's 1936 lectures at Columbia. Journal of the history of biology 35: 207-219.

Cain, Joe. 2002. Epistemic and community transition in American evolutionary studies: the 'Committee on Common Problems of Genetics, Paleontology, and Systematics' (1942-1949). Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. 33: 283-313.

Cain, Joe. 2001. The Columbia Biological Series, 1894-1974: a bibliographic note. Archives of Natural History 28: 353-366.

Cain, Joe. 2001. New evidence on Dobzhansky’s 1936 ‘Jesup’ lectures. The Linnean 17 (3): 15-18. (also see Cain. 2002. "Co-opting Colleagues" for further development.)

Cain, Joe. 2000. For the 'promotion' and 'integration' of various fields: first years of Evolution, 1947-1949. Archives of Natural History 27: 231-259.

Cain, Joseph. 2000. Towards a 'greater degree of integration': The Society for the Study of Speciation, 1939-1941. British Journal for the History of Science 33: 85-108.

Cain, Joe. 2000. Woodger, Positivism, and the Evolutionary Synthesis. Biology and Philosophy 15: 535-551.

Cain, Joseph. 1994. Ernst Mayr as community architect: launching the Society for the Study of Evolution and the journal Evolution. Biology and Philosophy 9: 387-427

Cain, Joe. 1993. Common problems and cooperative solutions: organizational activities in evolutionary studies, 1936-1947. Isis 84 (1):1-25. view through JSTOR.

Cain, Joe. 1992. Building a temporal biology: Simpson's program for paleontology during an American expansion of biology. Earth Sciences History 11: 30-36.

Cain, Joe. 1990. George Gaylord Simpson's 'History of the Section of Vertebrate Paleontology in the Paleontological Society'. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 10: 40-48. View through JSTOR.

Cain, Joe. 1989. Moving Beyond Consistency: The Historical Significance of Simpson's Tempo and Mode in Evolution (81Mb).

Abstract: Simpson’s (1944) Tempo and Mode in Evolution (TM) is a complex book. TM’s content and significance have been poorly examined previously. My integrated analysis emphasizes two themes. First, Simpson elaborated a comprehensive evolutionary theory. Second, Simpson pursued different agendas with different audiences. TM defended a particular synthetic theory against alternatives. Also, TM supported a particular inter­school conceptual unification: Morgan’s chromosome theory of heredity, Wrightian population genetics, adaptation via natural selection, and Simpson’s temporal approach to evolution. TM was well received among paleontologists, who largely adopted Simpson’s conclusions as the foundation for their research; however, biologists mostly favored extrapolationist alternatives instead of Simpson’s agenda, citing TM only to validate particular explanatory tools.
.....I untangled three conflated uses of the “consistency” argument for TM: literal consistency, extrapolation, and a shared explanatory tool box. The latter most precisely describes (1) the relation between Simpson and other MS synthetic theorists, and (2) the relation between Simpson’s explanations for micro-, macro-, and mega-evolution. This topic provides only one (and not the most significant) point regarding TM. Simpson’s other agendas were separable from the construction of his comprehensive theory, as TM was far more than a “consistency” argument.
.....A research school-level of analysis provides a finer-grained study of synthetic theories. This recognizes Simpson’s intellectual achievements plus the dissent within individual fields. Also, it allows for a study of the competition between conflicting synthetic theories. Furthermore, the study of explanatory tool boxes provides an alternative method for studying evolutionary theorists. 

2. History of life sciences, generally

Cain, Joe. 2014. "Darwin in London." The Linnean: Newsletter and Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London 30 (2):13-21.

Cain, Joe. 2013. The Brown Dog in Battersea Park (London: Euston Grove Press), 32p. ISBN 978-1-906267-31-5.

Cain, Joe. 2011. No Ordinary Space: A Brief History of the Grant Museum’s new home at University College London. (London: UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies). STS Occasional Papers number 1.

Cain, Joe. (ed.). 2009. William Jennings Bryan’s Last Message: a reprint of his famous closing arguments for the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, undelivered and posthumously published (London, Euston Grove Press). Edited, with an introduction, by Joe Cain.

Cain, Joe. 2007. Rethinking Attacks on Evolution. Lessons from the 1925 Scopes Trial. In Michael Ruse (ed.). 2007. Philosophy of Biology 2nd Revised edition. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, pp. 439-456. Order UK and US.

Cain, Joe. 2005. Joseph Henry Woodger (1894-1981) Papers at University College London. Mendel Newsletter. 14: 7-8.

Cain, Joe. 2004. Evolution and public display: an historical perspective. NatSCA News 3:24-26.

Cain, Joe. 2003. Publication history for Evolution: a journal of nature. Archives of natural history 30: 168-171, 298.
original article | correction | Website for facsimiles of EJN.

Cain, Joe and Iona Layland. 2003. The Situation in Genetics I: Dunn's 1927 Russian Tour. Mendel Newsletter 12: 10-15. Also, see Jenny Marie. 2004. The Situation in Genetics II: Dunn’s 1927 European Tour in Mendel Newsletter 13. (on Leslie Clarence Dunn's travels.)

Cain, Joe. 2002. In History of Modern Science and Mathematics, edited by B. Baigrie, C. Fraser, T. Levere and M. P. Winsor: Charles Scribners' Sons:
Ecology. 3: 44-68.
Systematics. 4: 151-176.

Cain, Joe. 2001. Scopes Trial and Fundamentalism in the United States. In Encyclopedia of Life Sciences produced by Macmillan Publishers Ltd, Nature Publishing Group. <http://www.els.net/>.

Cain, Joe. 2000. David Lack and the development of field ornithology. In Encyclopedia of Life Sciences produced by Macmillan Publishers Ltd, Nature Publishing Group. <http://www.els.net/>.

classic combination

Darden, Lindley, and Joseph Cain. 1989. Selection type theories. Philosophy of Science 56: 106-129. Reprinted in 2006. Reasoning in Biological Discoveries: Essays on Mechanisms, Interfield Relations, and Anomaly Resolution, edited by L. Darden. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 182-206.

Read it with: Cain, Joseph, and Lindley Darden. 1988. Hull and selection. Biology and Philosophy 3:165-171. also here. More on critical factors and a focus on the environment.

3. Research ethics

Cain, Joe. 2004. Why be my colleague's keeper? Constructing moral justifications for peer review. In Peer Review: A Critical Inquiry, edited by D. Shatz. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 179-190. This is a reprint of: Cain, Joe. 1999. Why be my colleague's keeper? Constructing moral justifications for peer review. Science and Engineering Ethics 5 531-540.

Cain, Joe. 1997. With bones in contention: repatriation of human remains. In B. Schrag. 1997. Research ethics: fifteen case studies and commentaries, volume 1. Bloomington, IN: Association for Practical and Professional Ethics. pp. 138-148.

4. Teaching and learning (university level)

Cain, Joe. 2010. Practical concerns when implementing object-based teaching in higher education. University Museums and Collections Journal 3: 197-203.

Cain, Joe. 2009. Life History of Your PhD Thesis. ViewPoint. Newsletter of the British Society for the History of Science 89 (June):1-3.

Cain, Joe. 2005. Teaching through objects: a user's perspective. NATSCA News 7 (Dec 2005): 2-7.

Cain, Joe. 2003. Diversifying assessment 3: Web projects in undergraduate history of science. Discourse: Learning and Teaching in Philosophical and Religious Studies 3 (1):27-40. Also reprinted in The Challenges of using the World-wide Web in Teaching History of Science, edited by D. J. Mossley. Leeds: Philosophy and Religious Studies Subject Centre, Learning and Teaching Support Network.

Cain, Joe. 2003. Diversifying assessment 2: posters and oral presentations in undergraduate history of science. PRS-LTSN Journal 2 (2):50-72.

Jarvis, Louise, and Joe Cain. 2002. Diversifying assessment 1: essays and examinations in undergraduate history of science. PRS-LTSN Journal 2 (1):24-57.

Cain, Joe. 2001. HPSC115: History of modern biology [syllabus]. In History of science syllabus sampler II, edited by H. Steffens. Seattle, WA: History of Science Society.

Cain, Joe. 1999. Have I wasted my summer on this Web site? (AHA) Perspectives 37 (2): 25-30.

Cain, Joe. 1988. Creationism and mammal origins. Journal of Geological Education 36: 94-105.

an oldie but a goodie

Cain, Joe. 1999. Have I wasted my summer on this Web site? (AHA) Perspectives 37 (2): 25-30.


Articles originally published in Archives of Natural History are provided here with the permission of the journal. For more information about Archives or the Society for the History of Natural History, click here.