Natural selection, as introduced by Charles Darwin in the On the Origin of Species (1859), has always been a topic of great conceptual and empirical interest. This book puts Darwin's theory of evolution in historical context showing that, in important respects, his central mechanism of natural selection gives the clue to understanding the nature of organisms. Natural selection has important implications, not just for the understanding of life's history – single-celled organism to man – but also for our understanding of contemporary social norms, as well as the nature of religious belief. Understanding Natural Selection is written in clear, non-technical language, appealing not just to philosophers, historians, and biologists, but also to general readers who find thinking about important issues both challenging and exciting.
1. The origin of species
2. Organism and mechanism: rival root metaphors
3. 'The non-Darwinian revolution?'
4. The synthesis
5. Is natural selection a vera causa?
6.The positive case
7.Time for a change?
8. Natural selection and its discontents
Michael Ruse is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph, Ontario. He is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Gifford Lecturer, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and the recipient of four honorary degrees. He is the author/editor of over sixty books, including The Gaia Hypothesis: Life on a Pagan Planet (University of Chicago Press, 2013); Darwinism as Religion: What Literature Tells Us about Evolution (Oxford University Press, 2016), and (Cambridge University Press, 2021).