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The Evolution Wars: A Guide to the Debates [Paperback]

By Michael Ruse & Edward O. Wilson (Foreward By)
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The Evolution Wars draws on history, science, and philosophy to examine the development of evolutionary thought through the past two and a half centuries. It focuses on the debates that have engaged, divided, and ultimately provoked scientists to ponder the origins of life--including humankind--paying regard to the nineteenth-century clash over the nature of classification and debates about the fossil record, genetics, and human nature. Much attention is paid to external factors and they underlying motives of scientists. In these pages you will meet Charles Darwin's ebullient grandfather Erasmus, the contentious Frenchmen Georges Cuvier and Etienne Geoffroy Sainte Hillaire, new creationist Phillip Johnson, the brilliant J.B.S. Haldane, outspoken Richard Dawkins, and many other stars of the debates. The Evolution Wars is intellectually rewarding not only for evolutionists but also for opponents of evolution theory, and for anyone who wants to see how one of the great ideas of Western civilization resonates through time, both within and beyond the scientific community. Michael Ruse is the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University in Tallahassee. He is the author of many books including The Darwinian Revolution: Science Red in Tooth and Claw; Monad to Man: The Concept of Progress in Evolutionary Biology; and Can a Darwinian Be a Christian?: The Relationship Between Science and Religion.

Item Specifications...

Pages   352
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.94" Width: 6.44" Height: 0.77"
Weight:   1.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2001
Publisher   Rutgers University Press
ISBN  0813530369  
EAN  9780813530369  

Availability  0 units.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Debates?  Jul 22, 2006
The facinating debate occurred between the Marxist biologists Stephen Jay Gould and R. C. Lewontin versus the progenitor of Sociobiology E. O. Wilson, thoroughly and scrupulously documented by sociologist Ullica Segerstrale in "Defenders of the Truth: The Sociobiology Debate," (Oxford University Press, 2000) is the place to begin.

If ever (and it has repeatedly been "ever') science is the handmaid of ideology (the "social Darwinists," eugenicists, Lysenko, Boaz, Mead, the Harvard Marxists, almost ad infinitum), science typically serves ideological purposes. Whoever doubts that science is the "means" of ideological "ends," this recent debate illustrates it clearly.

The "non-debate" between creationists and Darwinians is precisely that: NO debate. Evolution is an incontrovertible fact, even if Darwin's "five" evolutionary theories remain "theories." But, so does the "theory of gravity" remain a theory, so let's keep our eye on the "debate." It should be noted that Darwin's 1859 theories, by Karl Popper's "falsifiable" criterion, have not been falsified. Indeed, genetics, embryology, molecular biology, paleontology, etc. have repeatedly vindicated Darwin's original theories. The creationists' petard does not register in the real world.

Besides the "sociobiology" debate (which Wilson won), evolutionary insights are now reorienting medicine, psychiatry, psychology, literary theory, philosophy, and despite ideological entrenchment and resistance, even some of the "soft sciences" like political theory, sociology, anthropology, religion, etc. Whatever "wars" may seem to appear, they are confined to the ideologues defending their turf, not with respect to either evolution or Darwinism. The State of Kansas and the Dover School District and the Scopes' Trial do not constitute a "debate" other than a debate over intelligibility and science (vs. Revelation). Using Gertrude Stein's phrase, "there's no there."

"Debate" exists only in some people's imagination in hopes of defending the indefensible. Outside the "resistance," a paradigm shift is occurring, which, I suspect, is why the obstinate resistance insists on "debating" an already-established fact, and why biologists have decided not to "bother." Like the "false beliefs" of Marxism, Platonism, Freudianism, Christianity, postmodernism, someone's "ideology" has already been gored, and the defeated want to insist a "debate" still exists, if only to preserve their ideology against the facts.

Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao, biblical fundamentalists, and GWB insist a "debate" still exists. Ideologues are like that, but it does not mean it is true. Ideology is always the rascal rogue that finds "facts" at best inconvenient, worse, detrimental. But keeping the "debate" alive is itself further evidence of an adaptive strategy to survive, when they are no longer "fit." Selection, natural and artifical, eliminate the weak and unfit, but like all selection, time is its principal factor, while "debate" is the only impediment to inevitability.
A Superbly Researched and Referenced Overview  Jun 15, 2005
Michael Ruse, a Professor of Philosophy at FSU, and a veteran of the evolution-vs.-creation tug-of-war for the hearts and minds of the American public provides an excellent overview for the layman of the intellectual debates that have raged between supporters and opponents of Charles Darwin and his theory of descent with modification, commonly referred to as evolution.

Ruse also highlights and elucidates the points of view of the various types of evolutionary scholars, including the classicists, neo-Darwinists, sociobiologists, etc., and offers his own perspective regarding the relative merits of each of these approaches.

The book is meticulously referenced, and each chapter includes comprehesive lists of additional reading material for those interested in more in-depth study of the particular chapter's subject matter.

Overall, this book is an invaluable resource to those interested in understanding the current status of evolutionary thought among scientists, and how that thought (pardon the pun) "evolved" over the past two and a half centuries.
Still no theory of evolution?  Apr 8, 2005
This series of snapshots of the Great Darwin debate (which actually begins in the generation before Darwin) proceeds from the period of Cuvier/Lamarck to Gould/Dawkins, and episodically covers the key incidents of the development of Darwinism. Less detailed than the author's older, but still useful, The Darwinian Revolution, this account poses the question of why there is such a long debate. The reason must be the weakness of the theory proposed by Darwin. To that we should add the misleading scientism of the Synthesis appearing from Dobzhansky et al, and the book gives a revealing glimpse of paradigm formation in action. The problem is the public cannot see behind the math to the limits of population genetics, hence the limits of the theory itself. It seems that Gould is consciously or not trying to overthrow illusions here, yet still remains mired in the basic assumptions of the basic belief system.
Excellent book for its purpose which is...  Mar 20, 2005 provide an INTRODUCTION to the multiple debates spawned by the introduction of Darwinian is clear, concise, and interesting...more to the point it provides excellent references to allow readers to further pursue those debates and controversies which they find most interesting.
Wide-ranging, informative and readable  Jun 2, 2003
This book does a wonderful job of presenting a wide variety of debates that have surrounded evolutionary theory from the time of Darwin to the present. Ruse makes his own positions known, but tries to present all sides fairly, and for the most part does it well. He is especially interesting in his dissection of the underlying philosophical concerns that have driven the discussion of evolution.

In spots the writing rambles somewhat and can become unclear. After going to great lengths to define what is meant by "evolution," Ruse makes no such effort to define his term, "secular religion," which recurs frequently throughout his discussions. In other places, the author veers off in a new direction before finishing his point. For example, while addressing Philip Johnson's criticism of the "methodological naturalism" of science, Ruse slides off into the question whether one can be a methodological naturalist and still believe in God. It's a fascinating and worthwhile discussion, but it leaves out what seems to me to be the more important question in response to Johnson: can one do science at all without assuming that physical events have predictable physical causes?

For serious students of the subject, this book will not be the last word. For general readers it opens up a window on the rich field of evolutionary science and the debates that have surrounded it. The suggested additional reading at the end of each chapter should help anyone who is interested in pursuing a topic further.

It helps to have some basic background in biology to understand this book, but no extensive knowledge is necessary.


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