The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today

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Cambridge University Press, Sep 24, 1993 - Science - 490 pages
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This book is a success story. It explains two long-running puzzles of the theory of natural selection. How can natural selection favour those, like the ant, that renounce tooth and claw in favour of the public-spirited ways of the commune? How can it explain the peacock's tail, flamboyant and a burden to its bearer; surely selection would act against useless ornamentation? Helena Cronin's enthralling account blends history, science and philosophy in a gripping tale that is scholarly, entertaining and eminently readable. The hardback edition was selected by Nature as one of the best scientific books in 1992. Also the New York Times chose it as one of their best books of 1992. The author divides her time between the Philosophy Department at the London School of Economics and the Zoology Department at Oxford.
 

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Excellent book, direct and to the point, helped me find really good essay points

Contents

Walking archives
3
A world without Darwin
7
1859 and beyond
35
Goodbye to all that
47
Darwinism old and new
53
Organism to gene
59
Structures to strategists
66
Complexities and diversities
79
Until careful experiments are made
205
Ghosts of Darwinism surpassed
231
A happy ending to the peacocks tale
243
Altruism now
253
Altruism reanalysed
264
Altruism then
267
Altruism unseen
274
Altruism levelled down
283

Demarcations of design
81
The scrapheap of chance
87
Strange deviations tied together
93
Artefacts of our minds
106
The sting in the peacocks tail
113
The career of a controversy
118
Nothing but natural selection?
123
Coloration for protection
124
Coloration for recognition
129
Explaining away display
131
Coloration without selection
133
Males for Darwin females for Wallace?
146
A century of natural selection
155
Can females shape males?
165
Not choosing just looking
167
The instability of a vicious feminine caprice
168
The trouble with taste
174
Do sensible females prefer sexy males?
183
Not just a pretty tail
186
Is good sense sensible?
191
Good taste makes good sense
201
The social insects Kind kin
293
Make dove not war Conventional forces
311
Human altruism A natural kind?
325
Wise before the event
353
Morality at enmity with nature
367
Darwinian bodies Lamarckian minds
371
Rhetorical skirmishes
378
Breeding between the lines
381
Speciating for the greater good
387
Mating or weaning?
390
The problem for Darwin and Wallace
395
Incidental not endowed
400
Incidental not selected
402
Darwins adaptive interlude
407
The power of natural selection
416
Origins elusive
425
EPILOGUE
431
NOTE ON THE LETTERS OF DARWIN AND WALLACE
433
BIBLIOGRAPHY
439
INDEX
475
Copyright

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