Is the history of life a series of accidents or a drama scripted by selfish genes? Is there an essential human nature, determined at birth or in a distant evolutionary past? What should we conserve—species, ecosystems, or something else?
Informed answers to questions like these, critical to our understanding of ourselves and the world around us, require both a knowledge of biology and a philosophical framework within which to make sense of its findings. In this accessible introduction to philosophy of biology, Kim Sterelny and Paul E. Griffiths present both the science and the philosophical context necessary for a critical understanding of the most exciting debates shaping biology today. The authors, both of whom have published extensively in this field, describe the range of competing views—including their own—on these fascinating topics.
With its clear explanations of both biological and philosophical concepts,Sex and Deathwill appeal not only to undergraduates, but also to the many general readers eager to think critically about the science of life.
Part I - Theory Really Matters: Philosophy of Biology and Social Issues
1.1. The Science of Life Itself
1.2. Is There an Essential Human Nature?
1.3. Is Genuine Altruism Possible?
1.4. Are Human Beings Programmed by Their Genes?
1.5. Biology and the Pre-emption of Social Science
1.6. What Should Conservationists Conserve?
2. The Received View of Evolution
2.1. The Diversity of Life
2.2. Evolution and Natural Selection
2.3. The Received View and Its Challenges
Part II - Genes, Molecules, and Organisms
3. The Gene's Eye View of Evolution
3.1. Replicators and Interactors
3.2. The Special Status of Replicators
3.3. The Bookkeeping Argument
3.4. The Extended Phenotype
4. The Organisim Strikes Back
4.1. What Is a Gene?
4.2. Genes Are Active Germ Line Replicators
4.3. Genes Are DifflC(