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Not by Design: Retiring Darwin's Watchmaker

By: John Reiss

422 pages, Tabs

University of California Press

Paperback | Jun 2011 | #192055 | ISBN-13: 9780520271296
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £21.95 $29/€25 approx
Hardback | Jul 2009 | #180693 | ISBN-13: 9780520258938
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About this book

More than two centuries ago, William Paley introduced his famous metaphor of the universe as a watch made by the Creator. For Paley, the exquisite structure of the universe necessitated a designer. Today, some 150 years since Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" was published, the argument of design is seeing a revival. This provocative work tells how Darwin left the door open for this revival - and at the same time argues for a new conceptual framework that avoids the problematic teleology inherent in Darwin's formulation of natural selection.

In a wide-ranging discussion of the historical and philosophical dimensions of evolutionary theory from the ancient Greeks to today, John Reiss argues that we should look to the principle of the conditions for existence, first formulated before "On the Origin of Species" by the French paleontologist Georges Cuvier, to clarify the relation of adaptation to evolution. Reiss suggests that Cuvier's principle can help resolve persistent issues in evolutionary biology, including the proper definition of natural selection, the distinction between natural selection and genetic drift, and the meaning of genetic load. Moreover, he shows how this principle can help unite diverse areas of biology, ranging from quantitative genetics and the theory of the levels of selection to evo-devo, ecology, physiology, and conservation biology.

An important book that should be widely read and discussed.--American Scientist "An engaging read and is sure to stimulate much-needed discussion about the details of current evolutionary concepts."--Integrative & Comparative Bio (Sicb) "Well documented."--Biological Conservation


Preface: Beyond the Design Metaphor xiii PART ONE. PROLEGOMENA 1 1. The Problem 3 Teleology and Natural Selection 4 A Role for History 5 Overview of the Book (and How to Read It) 6 2. Philosophical Background 9 Teleological Explanation: Intentional, Representational, and Conditional 9 Teleology and Necessity 12 A Taxonomy of Teleology 13 The Principle of the Conditions for Existence 17 The Conditions for Existence and the Weak Anthropic Principle 19 Natural Selection and the Argument from Design 20 The Conditions for Existence and Evolutionary Explanation 22 The Function Debate 24 PART TWO. HOW DID WE GET INTO THIS MESS? FROM SOCRATES AND LUCRETIUS TO CUVIER AND DARWIN 29 3. Design versus the Epicurean Hypothesis: Two Thousand Years of Debate 31 The Teleologists: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle 32 Empedocles and the Atomists 38 The End of the Classical Era and the Rise of Christianity 41 The Scientific Revolution and the Revolt against Teleology 43 Rational Theology and the Argument of Design: The Later Seventeenth Century 45 The Deists, the Platonists, and the Rebirth of Natural Theology 48 The Mechanical Philosophy and the Argument of Design: Boyle, Ray, and Newton 51 4. Materialism, Teleology, and Evolution in the Enlightenment 57 The Origins of the Enlightenment: Bayle 57 The Philosophes, Materialism, and Lucretius (1744-1750) 59 Buffon, Maupertuis, and the Birth of Evolutionary Theory (1749-1755) 64 The Later Enlightenment: d'Holbach and Hume 71 Kant and the German Enlightenment 74 The Critical Philosophy 78 5. Cuvier and the Principle of the Conditions for Existence 85 Biographical Background 86 Cuvier's Project in the Context of Enlightenment Science 95 The Enunciation of the Principle and Its Place in Cuvier's System 98 The Philosophical Origins and Significance of the Principle 103 The Influence of the Principle in France and Germany 113 6. Darwin, Natural Theology, and the Principle of Natural Selection 121 Adaptedness and Existence in British Natural Theology 122 The Conditions for Existence Meet Natural Theology 124 Geology and the Explanation of Life's History 126 Darwin, Extinction, and Evolution 128 Darwin and the Conditions for Existence 136 Wallace and the Conditions for Existence 141 Darwin, Wallace, and Inheritance 145 Evolutionary Controversies before the Synthesis 146 PART THREE. EVOLUTION IN MENDELIAN POPULATIONS: TELEOLOGY GETS MATHEMATICAL 151 7. Existence and the Mathematics of Selection: The Adaptive Landscape versus the Fundamental Theorem 153 Mendelism, Selection, and the Modern Synthesis 154 Rates of Increase in Mendelian Populations 155 Fitness in Population Genetics 164 Ironing Out Wright's "Surface of Selective Value" 166 The Genesis of Wright's Surface 171 Fisher and the Fundamental Theorem 177 What Is Selected? 182 Fisher's Geometrical Model of Adaptedness 184 The Reemergence of the Adaptive Landscape 186 8. Population Growth, Genetic Load, and the Limits of Selection 191 Variance in Rate of Increase: The Opportunity for Selection (and Drift) in Natural Populations 192 Standardized Variance versus Population Growth: Data 195 Standardized Variance versus Population Growth: Mathematical Considerations 201 Genetic Load: The Dark Side of Natural Selection 205 Limits to Selection and the Standardized Variance in Rate of Increase 213 Genetic Load and Genetic Deaths 215 The Measurement of Total Selection in Existing Populations 216 Population Growth, Selection, and Standardized Variance 218 Partitioning the Variance in Rate of Increase across the Life Cycle 220 9. Natural Selection and Genetic Drift: Their Role in Evolutionary Change 225 What's Really Going On? 227 Model Populations 230 The Hagedoorns, Fisher, and the Origins of Genetic Drift 234 The "Sewall Wright Effect" 236 Drift and the Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution 238 Molecular Tests of Drift and Selection 239 Problems in Paradise 242 Drift and Mutation Pressure in Phenotypic Evolution 250 PART FOUR. THE CONDITIONS FOR EXISTENCE AND EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY 255 10. Adaptedness, Natural Selection, and the Conditions for Existence 257 Adaptation versus Adaptedness 258 Adaptedness of What? 259 Adaptedness, Adaptation, Function and Natural Selection: How Are They Related? 262 Empirical Studies of Evolution: Bacteria, Peppered Moths, and Darwin's Finches 267 11. How to Talk about Macroevolution 279 The Explanatory Role of Natural Selection: The Mechanism and the Principle 280 Teleology and the Terminology of Selection 285 Constraints: By What and on What? 292 The Conditions for Existence in Macroevolutionary Explanation: The Origin of Bird Flight 297 12. The Conditions for Existence as a Unifying Concept in Evolutionary Biology 313 Quantitative Genetics and the Conditions for Existence 313 Levels of Selection and the Conditions for Existence 319 Evo-Devo and the Conditions for Existence 326 The Ecological Niche and the Conditions for Existence 330 Physiology and the Conditions for Existence 339 Conservation Biology, Genetic Load, and the Conditions for Existence 346 CONCLUSION 353 Epilogue: Evolutionary Biology and Intelligent Design 355 Glossary 357 References 361 Index 401 About the Author

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John O. Reiss is Professor of Zoology at Humboldt State University.

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