392 pages, 84 figures
How should the concept of evidence be understood? And how does the concept of evidence apply to the controversy about creationism, and also to work in evolutionary biology about natural selection and common ancestry?
In this rich and wide-ranging book, Elliott Sober investigates general questions about probability and evidence and shows how the answers he develops to those questions apply to the specifics of evolutionary biology. Drawing on a set of fascinating examples, he analyses whether claims about intelligent design are untestable; whether they are discredited by the fact that many adaptations are imperfect; whether it is possible to know that present species trace back to common ancestors; how it is possible to test hypotheses about natural selection and many other issues. His book will interest all readers who want to understand philosophical questions about evidence and evolution, as they arise both in Darwin's work and contemporary biological research.
'Elliott Sober, a philosopher of science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has long been a leader in this school [epistemology and ethics], and his latest work, Evidence and Evolution: The Logic Behind the Science, shows why he commands our attention. He is interested in the question of evidence for theories, and he shows through a careful analysis of statistical thinking (particularly Bayesian thinking) how one can make informed decisions about claims made in biology.' Michael Ruse, American Scientist 'If one is interested in the logical foundation of evolutionary reasoning, this book need to be read.' www.roterdorn.de '... stimulating material for a graduate seminar, especially if aimed at an interdisciplinary group of students and faculty. ... There is much good food for thought here, and the book is well worth the investment of time and neural firings that it requires to get to the end of it.' Trends in Ecology and Evolution 'For anyone who is interested in increasing one's understanding of evidence and how it bears on evolutionary theory, Sober's book is the best place to begin. In fact, it is the best place to end as well. The likelihood that anyone else will be able to do a better job is slim to non-existent.' David Hull, Biosciences '... one of the most - if not the most - in depth analyses of the relationship between statistical reasoning and evidence in evolutionary biology. Indeed, the book should be read by everyone with a serious interest in evolutionary biology, in the philosophy of biology and in scientific inference more generally. ... Sober has written a remarkable and remarkably important book.' History of Philosophy of Life Sciences
Preface; 1. Evidence; 2. Intelligent design; 3. Natural selection; 4. Common ancestry; Conclusion; References; Index.
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Elliott Sober is Hans Reichenbach Professor and William Vilas Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison. His many publications include Adaptationism and Optimality (2001), which he co-edited with Steven Hecht Orzack, and From a Biological Point of View: Essays in Evolutionary Philosophy (1994).