Organisms, Agency, and Evolution

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Cambridge University Press, Nov 13, 2015 - History - 279 pages
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The central insight of Darwin's Origin of Species is that evolution is an ecological phenomenon, arising from the activities of organisms in the 'struggle for life'. By contrast, the Modern Synthesis theory of evolution, which rose to prominence in the twentieth century, presents evolution as a fundamentally molecular phenomenon, occurring in populations of sub-organismal entities - genes. After nearly a century of success, the Modern Synthesis theory is now being challenged by empirical advances in the study of organismal development and inheritance. In this important study, D. M. Walsh shows that the principal defect of the Modern Synthesis resides in its rejection of Darwin's organismal perspective, and argues for 'situated Darwinism': an alternative, organism-centred conception of evolution that prioritises organisms as adaptive agents. His book will be of interest to scholars and advanced students of evolutionary biology and the philosophy of biology.
 

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Contents

exceptionalism
1
The eclipse of the organism
21
Beyond replicator biology
87
commitment
150
Situated Darwinism
163
enacting evolution
208
fractionated or situated?
230
References
248
Index
275
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About the author (2015)

D. M. Walsh is Professor in the Department of Philosophy, the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto. He is the editor of Naturalism, Evolution and Mind (Cambridge, 2001) and the coeditor of Evolutionary Biology: Conceptual, Ethical and Religious Issues (with R. Paul Thompson, Cambridge, 2014).

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