Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection

Author: Peter Godfrey-Smith

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191567787

Category: Philosophy

Page: 224

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In 1859 Darwin described a deceptively simple mechanism that he called "natural selection," a combination of variation, inheritance, and reproductive success. He argued that this mechanism was the key to explaining the most puzzling features of the natural world, and science and philosophy were changed forever as a result. The exact nature of the Darwinian process has been controversial ever since, however. Godfrey-Smith draws on new developments in biology, philosophy of science, and other fields to give a new analysis and extension of Darwin's idea. The central concept used is that of a "Darwinian population," a collection of things with the capacity to undergo change by natural selection. From this starting point, new analyses of the role of genes in evolution, the application of Darwinian ideas to cultural change, and "evolutionary transitions" that produce complex organisms and societies are developed. Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection will be essential reading for anyone interested in evolutionary theory
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Philosophy of Biology

Author: Peter Godfrey-Smith

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 1400850444

Category: Science

Page: 200

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This is a concise, comprehensive, and accessible introduction to the philosophy of biology written by a leading authority on the subject. Geared to philosophers, biologists, and students of both, the book provides sophisticated and innovative coverage of the central topics and many of the latest developments in the field. Emphasizing connections between biological theories and other areas of philosophy, and carefully explaining both philosophical and biological terms, Peter Godfrey-Smith discusses the relation between philosophy and science; examines the role of laws, mechanistic explanation, and idealized models in biological theories; describes evolution by natural selection; and assesses attempts to extend Darwin's mechanism to explain changes in ideas, culture, and other phenomena. Further topics include functions and teleology, individuality and organisms, species, the tree of life, and human nature. The book closes with detailed, cutting-edge treatments of the evolution of cooperation, of information in biology, and of the role of communication in living systems at all scales. Authoritative and up-to-date, this is an essential guide for anyone interested in the important philosophical issues raised by the biological sciences.
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Other Minds

The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

Author: Peter Godfrey-Smith

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374712808

Category: Science

Page: 272

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Although mammals and birds are widely regarded as the smartest creatures on earth, it has lately become clear that a very distant branch of the tree of life has also sprouted higher intelligence: the cephalopods, consisting of the squid, the cuttlefish, and above all the octopus. In captivity, octopuses have been known to identify individual human keepers, raid neighboring tanks for food, turn off lightbulbs by spouting jets of water, plug drains, and make daring escapes. How is it that a creature with such gifts evolved through an evolutionary lineage so radically distant from our own? What does it mean that evolution built minds not once but at least twice? The octopus is the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien. What can we learn from the encounter? In Other Minds, Peter Godfrey-Smith, a distinguished philosopher of science and a skilled scuba diver, tells a bold new story of how subjective experience crept into being—how nature became aware of itself. As Godfrey-Smith stresses, it is a story that largely occurs in the ocean, where animals first appeared. Tracking the mind’s fitful development, Godfrey-Smith shows how unruly clumps of seaborne cells began living together and became capable of sensing, acting, and signaling. As these primitive organisms became more entangled with others, they grew more complicated. The first nervous systems evolved, probably in ancient relatives of jellyfish; later on, the cephalopods, which began as inconspicuous mollusks, abandoned their shells and rose above the ocean floor, searching for prey and acquiring the greater intelligence needed to do so. Taking an independent route, mammals and birds later began their own evolutionary journeys. But what kind of intelligence do cephalopods possess? Drawing on the latest scientific research and his own scuba-diving adventures, Godfrey-Smith probes the many mysteries that surround the lineage. How did the octopus, a solitary creature with little social life, become so smart? What is it like to have eight tentacles that are so packed with neurons that they virtually “think for themselves”? What happens when some octopuses abandon their hermit-like ways and congregate, as they do in a unique location off the coast of Australia? By tracing the question of inner life back to its roots and comparing human beings with our most remarkable animal relatives, Godfrey-Smith casts crucial new light on the octopus mind—and on our own.
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The Death of the Ethic of Life

Author: John Basl

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0190923881

Category: Philosophy

Page: 224

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Many subscribe to an Ethic of Life, an ethical perspective on which all living things deserve some level of moral concern. Within philosophy, the Ethic of Life has been clarified, developed, and rigorously defended; yet it has also found its harshest critics. Between biocentrists, those that endorse the Ethic of Life, and those that accept a more restricted view of moral status, the debate has reached a standstill, with few new resources for shifting or complicating it. In The Death of the Ethic of Life, John Basl seeks to end this comfortable stalemate by emphasizing a simple truth: the well-being of non-sentient beings, such as plants, species, and ecosystems, is morally significant only to the extent that it matters to sentient beings. Basl first develops a version of The Ethic of Life that best meets traditional challenges: the Ethic, if it is to survive criticism, must be able to explain how it is that all living things have a welfare or a good of their own. The best hope of offering such an explanation is to ground that welfare in teleology or goal-directedness, and then to ground that goal-directedness in the workings of natural selection. While a naturalistic account of teleology is crucial to defending an Ethic of Life, it is also its downfall. This Ethic ultimately entails that not only are ecosystems and collectives morally considerable, but so, too, are artifacts: everything from can openers to computers. Basl shows that evaluation of the resources for distinguishing artifacts from organisms forces us to abandon, for good, the Ethic of Life. The Death of the Ethic of Life provides not only a new answer to a fundamental question in environmental ethics, but a new way to conceive of fundamental concepts and issues in debates over who or what matters from the moral point of view, with wide-ranging implications in the philosophy of technology and bioethics.
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Evolutionary Game Theory, Natural Selection, and Darwinian Dynamics

Author: Thomas L. Vincent,Joel S. Brown

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 9781139444293

Category: Science

Page: N.A

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All of life is a game, and evolution by natural selection is no exception. The evolutionary game theory developed in this 2005 book provides the tools necessary for understanding many of nature's mysteries, including co-evolution, speciation, extinction and the major biological questions regarding fit of form and function, diversity, procession, and the distribution and abundance of life. Mathematics for the evolutionary game are developed based on Darwin's postulates leading to the concept of a fitness generating function (G-function). G-function is a tool that simplifies notation and plays an important role developing Darwinian dynamics that drive natural selection. Natural selection may result in special outcomes such as the evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS). An ESS maximum principle is formulated and its graphical representation as an adaptive landscape illuminates concepts such as adaptation, Fisher's Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection, and the nature of life's evolutionary game.
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The Philosophy of Social Evolution

Author: Jonathan Birch

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0191047368

Category: Philosophy

Page: 224

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From mitochondria to meerkats, the natural world is full of spectacular examples of social behaviour. In the early 1960s Bill Hamilton changed the way we think about how such behaviour evolves. He introduced three key innovations - now known as Hamilton's rule, kin selection, and inclusive fitness - which have been enormously influential, but which remain the subject of fierce controversy. Hamilton's pioneering work kick-started a research program now known as social evolution theory. This is a book about the philosophical foundations and future prospects of that program. Part I, "Foundations", is a careful exposition and defence of Hamilton's ideas, with a few modifications along the way. In Part II, "Extensions", Jonathan Birch shows how these ideas can be applied to phenomena including cooperation in micro-organisms, cooperation among the cells of a multicellular organism, and culturally evolved cooperation in the earliest human societies. Birch argues that real progress can be made in understanding microbial evolution, evolutionary transitions, and human evolution by viewing them through the lens of social evolution theory, provided the theory is interpreted with care and adapted where necessary. The Philosophy of Social Evolution places social evolution theory on a firm philosophical footing and sets out exciting new directions for further work.
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Functions: selection and mechanisms

Author: Philippe Huneman

Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media

ISBN: 9400753047

Category: Philosophy

Page: 243

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This volume handles in various perspectives the concept of function and the nature of functional explanations, topics much discussed since two major and conflicting accounts have been raised by Larry Wright and Robert Cummins’ papers in the 1970s. Here, both Wright’s ‘etiological theory of functions’ and Cummins’ ‘systemic’ conception of functions are refined and elaborated in the light of current scientific practice, with papers showing how the ‘etiological’ theory faces several objections and may in reply be revisited, while its counterpart became ever more sophisticated, as researchers discovered fresh applications for it. Relying on a firm knowledge of the original positions and debates, this volume presents cutting-edge research evincing the complexities that today pertain in function theory in various sciences. Alongside original papers from authors central to the controversy, work by emerging researchers taking novel perspectives will add to the potential avenues to be followed in the future. Not only does the book adopt no a priori assumptions about the scope of functional explanations, it also incorporates material from several very different scientific domains, e.g. neurosciences, ecology, or technology. In general, functions are implemented in mechanisms; and functional explanations in biology have often an essential relation with natural selection. These two basic claims set the stage for this book’s coverage of investigations concerning both ‘functional’ explanations, and the ‘metaphysics’ of functions. It casts new light on these claims, by testing them through their confrontation with scientific developments in biology, psychology, and recent developments concerning the metaphysics of realization. Rather than debating a single theory of functions, this book presents the richness of philosophical issues raised by functional discourse throughout the various sciences.​
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The Biological Mind

A Philosophical Introduction

Author: Justin Garson

Publisher: Routledge

ISBN: 1317676696

Category: Philosophy

Page: 198

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For some, biology explains all there is to know about the mind. Yet many big questions remain: is the mind shaped by genes or the environment? If mental traits are the result of adaptations built up over thousands of years, as evolutionary psychologists claim, how can such claims be tested? If the mind is a machine, as biologists argue, how does it allow for something as complex as human consciousness? The Biological Mind: A Philosophical Introduction explores these questions and more, using the philosophy of biology to introduce and assess the nature of the mind. Drawing on the four key themes of evolutionary biology; molecular biology and genetics; neuroscience; and biomedicine and psychiatry Justin Garson addresses the following key topics: moral psychology, altruism and levels of selection evolutionary psychology and modularity genes, environment and the nature-nurture debate neuroscience, reductionism and the relation between biology and free will function, selection and mental representation psychiatric classification and the maladapted mind. Extensive use of examples and case studies is made throughout the book, and additional features such as chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary make this an indispensable introduction to those teaching philosophy of mind and philosophy of psychology. It will also be an excellent resource for those in related fields such as biology.
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Naturalism and Normativity

Author: Mario De Caro,David Macarthur

Publisher: Columbia University Press

ISBN: 0231508875

Category: Philosophy

Page: 376

View: 3619

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Normativity concerns what we ought to think or do and the evaluations we make. For example, we say that we ought to think consistently, we ought to keep our promises, or that Mozart is a better composer than Salieri. Yet what philosophical moral can we draw from the apparent absence of normativity in the scientific image of the world? For scientific naturalists, the moral is that the normative must be reduced to the nonnormative, while for nonnaturalists, the moral is that there must be a transcendent realm of norms. Naturalism and Normativity engages with both sides of this debate. Essays explore philosophical options for understanding normativity in the space between scientific naturalism and Platonic supernaturalism. They articulate a liberal conception of philosophy that is neither reducible to the sciences nor completely independent of them yet one that maintains the right to call itself naturalism. Contributors think in new ways about the relations among the scientific worldview, our experience of norms and values, and our movements in the space of reason. Detailed discussions include the relationship between philosophy and science, physicalism and ontological pluralism, the realm of the ordinary, objectivity and subjectivity, truth and justification, and the liberal naturalisms of Donald Davidson, John Dewey, John McDowell, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.
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The Evolved Apprentice

Author: Kim Sterelny

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 9780262302814

Category: Psychology

Page: 264

View: 3475

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Over the last three million years or so, our lineage has diverged sharply from those of our great ape relatives. Change has been rapid (in evolutionary terms) and pervasive. Morphology, life history, social life, sexual behavior, and foraging patterns have all shifted sharply away from those of the other great apes. In The Evolved Apprentice, Kim Sterelny argues that the divergence stems from the fact that humans gradually came to enrich the learning environment of the next generation. Humans came to cooperate in sharing information, and to cooperate ecologically and reproductively as well, and these changes initiated positive feedback loops that drove us further from other great apes. Sterelny develops a new theory of the evolution of human cognition and human social life that emphasizes the gradual evolution of information-sharing practices across generations and how these practices transformed human minds and social lives. Sterelny proposes that humans developed a new form of ecological interaction with their environment, cooperative foraging. The ability to cope with the immense variety of human ancestral environments and social forms, he argues, depended not just on adapted minds but also on adapted developmental environments.
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