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Philosophy of Biology : A Contemporary Introduction - Alex Rosenberg

Philosophy of Biology

A Contemporary Introduction

Hardcover

Published: 29th January 2008
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Is life a purely physical process?Does the theory of natural selection conflict with theism, and if so, how can we rationally choose between them?What is human nature? Which of our traits is essential to us?Biology is the branch of science most immediately relevant to many distinctively human concerns, so it is natural that it should be the site of great controversy and debate. The philosophy of biology addresses not only those questions which biology cannot yet (or perhaps ever) answer, but also the further questions about why biology may be unable to answer those questions.In this volume, Daniel McShea and Alex Rosenberg - a biologist and a philosopher, respectively - join forces to create a new gateway to the philosophy of biology, making the major issues accessible and relevant to biologists and philosophers alike.Exploring concepts such as supervenience, the controversies about genocentrism and genetic determinism, and the debate about major transitions central to contemporary thinking about macroevolution, the authors lay out the broad terms in which we should assess the impact of biology on human capacities, social institutions, and ethical values.

'A very impressive book. Coverage is complete without being overly encyclopedic and diffuse, and competing arguments are given fair and even-handed treatment.' - "Gregory Frost-Arnold," "University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA"

Acknowledgementsp. xi
Introduction: what is the philosophy of biology?p. 1
Philosophy asks two kinds of questionsp. 1
Philosophy and languagep. 3
The agenda of the philosophy of biologyp. 7
Darwin makes a sciencep. 12
Overviewp. 12
Teleology and theologyp. 12
Making teleology safe for sciencep. 16
Misunderstandings about natural selectionp. 20
Is Darwinism the only game in town?p. 23
Philosophical problems of Darwinismp. 27
Summaryp. 30
Suggestions for further readingp. 30
Biological laws and theoriesp. 32
Overviewp. 32
Causation, laws, and biological generalizationsp. 33
Could there be laws about species?p. 37
Models in biology: Mendel's laws, Fisher's sex ratios, the Hardy-Weinberg equilibriump. 46
Fitness and the principle of natural selectionp. 51
Darwinism as a historical research programp. 58
Summaryp. 62
Suggestions for further readingp. 63
Further problems of Darwinism: constraint, drift, functionp. 65
Overviewp. 65
Adaptationism-for and againstp. 66
Constraint and adaptationp. 70
What is genetic drift?p. 76
Central tendencies, subjective probabilities, and theismp. 82
Function, homology, and homoplasyp. 87
Summaryp. 94
Suggestions for further readingp. 94
Reductionism about biologyp. 96
Overviewp. 96
Reduction, eliminativism, and physicalismp. 97
Arguments for reductionismp. 100
Antireductionist arguments from molecular biologyp. 105
Reductionist rejoindersp. 111
Multiple realizability, supervenience, and antireductionismp. 114
Self-organization and reductionismp. 119
Natural selection and reductionp. 124
Summaryp. 125
Suggestions for further readingp. 126
Complexity, directionality, and progress in evolutionp. 127
Overviewp. 127
What is progress, and is it (or could it be) a scientific concept?p. 128
What does theory predict?p. 132
Some more specific proposals and their problemsp. 138
Trends versus tendenciesp. 147
Complexity and intelligent designp. 152
Summaryp. 154
Suggestions for further readingp. 155
Genes, groups, teleosemantics, and the major transitionsp. 157
Overviewp. 157
Levels and units of selectionp. 158
Kin selection and selection within and between groupsp. 164
Macroevolution and the major trends: is group selection rare or frequent?p. 169
Genocentrism and genetic informationp. 173
Teleosemantics: philosophy of biology meets the philosophy of psychologyp. 179
Summaryp. 184
Suggestions for further readingp. 185
Biology, human behavior, social science, and moral philosophyp. 187
Overviewp. 187
Functionalism in social sciencep. 188
Evolutionary game theory and Darwinian dynamicsp. 191
Evolutionary psychology and the argument for innatenessp. 198
What is wrong with genetic determinism?p. 207
Darwinism without genesp. 212
Darwinism and ethicsp. 218
Summaryp. 224
Suggestions for further readingp. 224
Bibliographyp. 226
Indexp. 232
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780415315920
ISBN-10: 0415315921
Series: Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 241
Published: 29th January 2008
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.95 x 16.43  x 1.83
Weight (kg): 0.49
Edition Number: 1