Books  Animal & General Biology  Genetics 

Genes and the Agents of Life

By: R Wilson

312 pages, 2 line illus, 13 tabs

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Nov 2004 | #151108 | ISBN: 0521544955
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £24.99 $31/€28 approx
Hardback | Nov 2004 | #151109 | ISBN: 0521836468
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £63.99 $78/€72 approx

About this book

Undertakes to rethink the place of the individual in the biological sciences, drawing parallels with the cognitive and social sciences. Genes, organisms, and species are all agents of life but how are each of these conceptualized within genetics, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, and systematics? The book includes highly accessible discussions of genetic encoding, species and natural kinds, and pluralism above the levels of selection, drawing on work from across the biological sciences. The book is a companion to the author's Boundaries of the Mind, also available from Cambridge, where the focus is the cognitive sciences.

Wilson provides an important new perspective on many of the key problems in the philosophy of biology through his highly original focus on the locus of agency in explanations. Any philosopher with interests in the life or human sciences will gain valuable new insights from this work. Paul E. Griffiths, University of Pittsburgh "This is a bold, absorbing, and deeply-informed book...[Wilson's] views are often controversial and provocative, but always clearly and lucidly argued. As well as fostering productive debate within the philosophy of biology, this book has the potential to show a much wider audience why this discipline is currently so exciting." John Dupre, University of Exeter


Part I. Individuals, Agency, and Biology: 1. Individuals and biology; 2. Thinking about biological agents; Part II. Species, Organisms, and Biological Natural Kinds: 3. What is an organism?; 4. Exploring the tripartite view; 5. Specious individuals; Part III. Genes and Organismic Development: 6. Genetic agency; 7. Conceptualizing development; Part IV. Groups and Natural Selection: 8. Groups as agents of selection; 9. Arguing about group selection: the myxoma case; 10. Pluralism, entwinement, and the levels of selection.

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Robert A. Wilson was born in Broken Hill, Australia, and lives in Edmonton, Canada. He is the author or editor of five other books, including the award-winning The MIT Encyclopaedia of the Cognitive Sciences (1999) and Boundaries of the Mind (Cambridge, 2004).

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