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Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Biology

Francisco J. Ayala (Editor), Robert Arp (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-4051-5998-2
440 pages
December 2009, Wiley-Blackwell
Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Biology (1405159987) cover image
This collection of specially commissioned essays puts top scholars head to head to debate the central issues in the lively and fast growing field of philosophy of biology
  • Brings together original essays on ten of the most hotly debated questions in philosophy of biology
  • Lively head-to-head debate format sharply defines the issues and paves the way for further discussion
  • Includes coverage of the new and vital area of evolutionary developmental biology, as well as the concept of a unified species, the role of genes in selection, the differences between micro- and macro-evolution, and much more
  • Each section features an introduction to the topic as well as suggestions for further reading
  • Offers an accessible overview of this fast-growing and dynamic field, whilst also capturing the imagination of professional philosophers and biologists
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Notes on Contributors

General Introduction

References and Further Reading

Part I: Is It Possible to Reduce Biological Explanations to Explanations in Chemistry and/or Physics?

Introduction

References and Further Reading

1. It Is Possible to Reduce Biological Explanations to Explanations in Chemistry and/or Physics: Evelyn Fox Keller (MIT)

2. It Is Not Possible to Reduce Biological Explanations to Explanations in Chemistry and/or Physics: John Dupré (University of Exeter)

Part II: Have Traits Evolved to Function the Way They Do Because of a Past Advantage?

Introduction

References and Further Reading

3. Traits Have Evolved to Function the Way They Do Because of a Past Advantage: Mark Perlman (Western Oregon University)

4. Traits Have Not Evolved to Function the Way They Do Because of a Past Advantage: Robert Cummins (University of Illinois-Urbana-Champagin) and Martin Roth (Drake University)

Part III: Are Species Real?

Introduction

References and Further Reading

5. Species Are Real Biological Entities: Michael F. Claridge (Cardiff University)

6. Species Are Not Uniquely Real Biological Entities: Brent D. Mishler (University of California-Berkeley)

Part IV: Does Selection Operate Primarily on Genes?

Introduction

References and Further Reading

7. Selection Does Operate Primarily on Genes: In Defense of the Gene as the Unit of Selection: Carmen Sapienza (Temple University)

8. Selection Does Not Operate Primarily on Genes: Richard M. Burian (University of Pittsburgh)

Part V: Are Microevolution and Macroevolution Governed by the Same Processes?

Introduction

References and Further Reading

9. Microevolution and Macroevolution Are Governed by the Same Processes: Michael R. Dietrich (Dartmouth College)

10. Microevolution and Macroevolution Are Not Governed by the Same Processes: Douglas H. Erwin (Smithsonian Institution and Santa Fé Institute)

Part VI: Does Evolutionary Developmental Biology Offer a Significant Challenge to the Neo-Darwinian Paradigm?

Introduction

References and Further Reading

11. Evolutionary Developmental Biology Does Offer a Significant Challenge to the Neo-Darwinian Paradigm: Manfred D. Laubichler (Arizona State University)

12. Evolutionary Developmental Biology Does Not Offer a Significant Challenge to the Neo-Darwinian Paradigm: Alessandro Minelli (University of Padova)

Part VII: Were the Basic Components of the Human Mind Solidified During the Pleistocene Epoch?

Introduction

References and Further Reading

13. The Basic Components of the Human Mind Were Solidified During the Pleistocene Epoch: Valerie G. Starratt (Nova Southeastern University) and Todd K. Shackelford (Florida Atlantic University)

14. The Basic Components of the Human Mind Were Not Solidified During the Pleistocene Epoch: Stephen M. Downes (University of Utah)

Part VIII: Does Memetics Provide a Useful Way of Understanding Cultural Evolution?

Introduction

References and Further Reading

15. Memetics Does Provide a Useful Way of Understanding Cultural Evolution: Susan Blackmore (University of the West of England)

16. Memetics Does Not Provide a Useful Way of Understanding Cultural Evolution: A Developmental Perspective: William C. Wimsatt (University of Chicago)

Part IX: Can the Biological Sciences Act as a Ground for Ethics?

Introduction

References and Further Reading

17. The Biological Sciences Can Act as a Ground for Ethics: Michael Ruse (Florida State University)

18. What the Biological Sciences Can and Cannot Contribute to Ethics: Francisco J. Ayala (University of California-Irvine)

Part X: Is There a Place for Intelligent Design in the Philosophy of Biology?

Introduction

References and Further Reading

19. There Is a Place for Intelligent Design in the Philosophy of Biology: Intelligent Design in (Philosophy of) Biology: Some Legitimate Roles: Del Ratzsch (University of Massachusetts-Amherst)

20. There Is No Place for Intelligent Design in the Philosophy of Biology: Intelligent Design Is Not Science: Francisco J. Ayala (University of California-Irvine)

Index

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Francisco J. Ayala is Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, USA. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. In 2001, he received the National Medal of Science. Ayala has published more than 950 articles and is the author or editor of 31 books. He has been named the Renaissance Man of Evolutionary Biology by The New York Times.

Robert Arp is an analyst at The Analysis Group, LLC who has interests in philosophy of biology and ontology in the informatics sense. He is the author of Scenario Visualization: An Evolutionary Account of Creative Problem Solving (2008), and co-editor of Philosophy of Biology: An Anthology (Blackwell, 2009).

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“All chapters (including the very interesting contributions on the species problem by Claridge and Mishler, as well as the stimulating papers on evolutionary ethics by Ruse and Ayala) serve as an excellent introduction to the most hotly debated topics in the philosophy of biology today.”  (Metascience, 2011)

 

"Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above". (Choice, 1 November 2010)

Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Biology

"A very fine contribution to the pedagogical literature on philosophy of biology. The editors are to be congratulated for the thoughtfulness that went into producing this text. May it gain the wide acceptance it deserves." (Science & Education, March 2010)

is an engaging anthology with many interesting contributions.  The strength of the book is the format: two eminent representatives of the biophilosophical community have their say on a pivotal biophilosophical issue.” (Metapsychology, May 2010)

"A greatly needed and welcome contribution by excellent scholars, this book invites newcomers and experts alike to think critically about core issues in the philosophy of biology."
Roberta L. Millstein, University of California, Davis

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