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Evolution – both the fact that it occurred and the theory describing the mechanisms by which it occurred – is an intrinsic and central component in modern biology. Theodosius Dobzhansky captures this well in the much-quoted title of his 1973 paper 'Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution'. The correctness of this assertion is even more obvious today: philosophers of biology and biologists agree that the fact of evolution is undeniable and that the theory of evolution explains that fact. Such a theory has far-reaching implications. In Evolutionary Biology: Conceptual, Ethical and Religious Issues, eleven distinguished scholars address the conceptual, metaphysical and epistemological richness of the theory and its ethical and religious impact, exploring topics including DNA barcoding, three grand challenges of human evolution, functionalism, historicity, design, evolution and development, and religion and secular humanism.
1. Human evolution: the three grand challenges of human biology Francisco Ayala
Part I. Evolution and Theology
2. Evolutionary theory, causal completeness, and theism - the case of 'guided' mutation Elliott Sober
3. Religion, truth and progress Philip Kitcher
Part II. Taxonomy and Systematics
4. Consilience, historicity, and the species problem Marc Ereshefsky
5. DNA barcoding and taxonomic practice David Castle
Part III. The Structure of Evolutionary Theory
6. Darwin's theory and the value of mathematical formalisation R. Paul Thompson
7. Population genetics, economic theory, and eugenics in R. A. Fisher Jean Gayon
8. Exploring development and evolution on the tangled bank Jane Maienschein and Manfred Laubichler
Part IV. Function, Adaptation and Design
9. Darwin's cyclopean architect John Beatty
10. Function and teleology Denis Walsh
11. How physics fakes design Alex Rosenberg
R. Paul Thompson is Professor in the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto. His most recent books include The Structure of Biological Theories (1989) and Agro-Technology (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and he is editor of Issues in Evolutionary Ethics (1995).
Denis Walsh holds the Canada Research Chair in the Philosophy of Biology and is a member of the Department of Philosophy at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, and the Department for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto. He is editor of Naturalism, Evolution and Mind (Cambridge University Press, 2001).