Evolutionary Worlds Without End
Diversity and complexity are the hallmarks of living forms. Yet science aims for general causal explanations of its observations. So how can these be reconciled? Is it possible for a science of life to conform to the requirement of a general theory - the type of theory seen in a 'hard' science such as physics? These are the questions that are explored in this important new book. In Evolutionary worlds without end, Henry Plotkin considerswhether there is any general theory in biology, including the social sciences, that is in any way equivalent to the general theories of physics. It starts by examining Ernest Rutherford's dictum as to what science is. In the later chapters he considers the possibility, within an historical framework, ofa general theory being based upon selection processes.In each case, the author argues, selection theory is strengthened by the universal addition of niche construction and ecological inheritance. Throughout, the author constructs a compelling argument for the idea that there are within biology, and that includes the social sciences, something like the general theories that make physics such powerful science. The book will be valuable for all those in thebiological and social sciences, in particular, biologists, psychologists, as well as philosophers of science.
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1 The Rutherford dictum and its meaning for biology
2 Plus ça change
3 The expansion of selection theory
4 Evolutionary epistemology
5 Selection and cultural change
adaptive amongst analysis animals argued artefacts Basalla behaviour biologists brain Campbell Campbell’s causal cells central century chapter classical conditioning cognitive complex conception considered cultural change cultural evolution Darden and Cain Darwin Darwin’s theory Darwinian Dawkins driving economic entities environment epigenetic epigenetic inheritance evolutionary epistemology evolutionary theory evolved example exaptations existence framework gene-culture coevolution genes genetic group selection hierarchy HOKS human culture ideas immune system important individual inheritance systems intentionality interactions interactors Jablonka and Lamb knowledge gain Lamarck Lamarckian language levels Lewontin living forms mechanisms memetics molecular natural selection neoDarwinism neural networks niche construction notion observed occur ofthe organisms phenotype philosophers physics Popper populations possible problem psychological reductionism result Rutherford scientists selection processes selection theory shared social constructions social reality Spencer structure theoretical theory in biology theory of evolution thought tion transformation of species transmission understanding units of selection variation Waddington