|A grocery store still life, primarily Brassica oleracae|
Let's start with the easier of the usage and terminology discrepancies – the term 'natural selection'. Is it useful or does the simpler 'selection' make it redundant? I tend to drop the 'natural' part; laziness and word limits may help, but I think there may be valid theoretical or philosophical merit in doing so:
1. 'Natural selection' was initially proposed in contrast to 'artificial selection', which was used as an effective pedagogical/explanatory move. It got the point across, particularly in an age when humans were unquestionably special and distinct from the natural world. Nowadays, few scientists would seriously make a distinction between human and non-human nature in the context of biology, and thus there really is no artificial selection per se. 'Artificial selection' is 'natural selection' performed by humans to pressure their organisms towards traits the humans find favourable. In this case, the humans are part of the environment, playing a similar role to predators, except they breed the variants they like instead of instantly culling them. With no need for an 'artificial selection', is there still a need for 'natural selection', since there no longer is a valid contrast?
2. 'Natural selection' is often equated with adaptation. This isn't to say 'selection' by itself isn't, but 'natural selection' is the variant used most often in popular writing, some of which can be careless and inconsistent with its terminology. While presumably many of the authors do truly understand that selection and adaptation are different things, adaptationism has led some to consider the difference irrelevant. If adaptation is the sole phenomenon responsible for all the observable or cool things in biology, does it really matter if it's used interchangeably with natural selection? When a term is learned and frequently used incorrectly, it is extremely difficult to fix even in an individual, let alone a population. While 'natural selection' is not meant to be conflated with adaptation, it is, and has thus been tainted.
4. This is the least important point, but rather a more personal one. I dislike Darwin-worship; I'm not a 'Darwinian' (nor a "Neo-Darwinian), don't know what that means and frankly don't consider this question relevant now, over a century after Darwin's death. While history of science is indeed fascinating and undeniably worthwhile to learn about, we shouldn't trap ourselves in our history. In fact, I think equating evolution with Darwinism is a bit offensive to all the hard work and frustration of subsequent researchers that have contributed to the field – do they not matter? They work for evolution, not Darwin. 'Natural selection' has been too often tightly associated with 'Darwinism', and often plays a part in Darwin-worship. In other words, the term has acquired some baggage; mind you, not through Darwin but rather through his fervent supporters afterwards.
5. Population geneticists seem perfectly happy with just 'selection'. They're the ones who actually study the mechanisms of this stuff, so if it works for them, perhaps it should be adequate for the rest of us?
I don't mean to nitpick on words and 'mere semantics', but given the difficulty of conveying ideas to those outside your field and the general public, any site of potential confusion is worth trimming if we can. Those on the writing end are also prone to sloppiness and mistakes, so we too are susceptible to the confusion potential. That said, 'natural selection' has stuck around for this long – perhaps there is a beneficial reason I missed out on? This is an honest question – I've never really been formally trained in evolutionary biology save for a basic first year level, and may thus miss large chunks of theory. As I mentioned before, I'm being 'brought up' in some minority circles of evolutionary thought.
Why should we still use 'natural selection'?
Your turn. Just be gentle with the philosophy – I'm rather slow at following complicated abstract theoretical discussions, which is why I do experimental science ;-)