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Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology

Edited By: E Sober

496 pages, 29 illus

MIT Press

Paperback | Sep 2006 | Edition: 3 | #160715 | ISBN: 0262693380
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NHBS Price: £42.99 $57/€48 approx
Hardback | Sep 2006 | Edition: 3 | #160716 | ISBN: 0262195496
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About this book

These essays by leading scientists and philosophers address conceptual issues that arise in the theory and practice of evolutionary biology. The third edition of this widely used anthology has been substantially revised and updated. Four new sections have been added: on women in the evolutionary process, evolutionary psychology, laws in evolutionary theory, and race as social construction or biological reality. Other sections treat fitness, units of selection, adaptationism, reductionism, essentialism, species, phylogenetic inference, cultural evolution, and evolutionary ethics.

Each of the twelve sections contains two or three essays that develop different views of the subject at hand. For example, the section on evolutionary psychology offers one essay by two founders of the field and another that questions its main tenets. One sign that a discipline is growing is that there are open questions, with multiple answers still in competition; the essays in this volume demonstrate that evolutionary biology and the philosophy of evolutionary biology are living, growing disciplines.


Part 1 Fitness: the propensity interpretation of fitness, Susan K. Mills and John H. Beatty. Part 2 Function and teleology: functions, Larry Wright; functional analysis, Robert Cummins. Part 3 Adaptationism: the spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian paradigm - a critique of the adaptationist programme, Stephen Jay Gould and Richard C. Lewontin; optimization theory in evolution, John Maynard Smith. Part 4 Units of selection: excerpts from "Adaptation and Natural Selection", George C. Williams; levels of selection - an alternative to individualism in biology and the human sciences, David Sloan Wilson. Part 5 Essentialism and population thinking: typological versus population thinking, Ernst Mayr; evolution, population thinking, and essentialism, Elliott Sober. Part 6 Species: a matter of individuality, David L. Hull; species concepts - a case for pluralism, Brent D. Mishler and Michael J. Donoghue. Part 7 Systematic philosophies: the continuing search for order, Robert R. Sokal; phylogenetic systematics, Willi Hennig; biological classification - toward a synthesis of opposing methodologies, Ernst Mayr; contemporary systematic philosophies, David L. Hull. Part 8 Phylogenetic inference: the logical basis of phylogenetic analysis, James Farris; the detection of phylogeny, Joseph Felsenstein. Part 9 Reduction of Mendelian genetics to molecular biology: 1953 and all that - a tale of two sciences, Philip Kitcher; why the antireductionist consensus won't survive the case of classical Mendelian genetics, C. Kenneth Waters. Part 10 Ethics and sociobiology: moral philosophy as applied science, Michael Ruse and Edward O. Wilson; four ways of "Biologicizing" ethics, Philip Kitcher. Part 11 Cultural evolution and evolutionary epistemology: epistemology from an evolutionary point of view, Michael Bradie; models of cultural evolution, Elliott Sober.

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Eliott Sober is Hans Reichenbach Professor and William F. Vilas Reseach Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of The Nature of Selection (MIT Press, 1984), Reconstructing the Past (MIT Press, 1988), Philosophy of Biology, and, with David S. Wilson, Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior.

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