Book picks similar to
The Structure and Confirmation of Evolutionary Theory by Elisabeth A. Lloyd
Why We Lie: The Evolutionary Roots of Deception and the Unconscious Mind
David Livingstone Smith - 2004
Even the founding myth of the Judeo-Christian tradition, the story of Adam and Eve, revolves around a lie. We have been talking, writing and singing about deception ever since Eve told God, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." Our seemingly insatiable appetite for stories of deception spans the extremes of culture from King Lear to Little Red Riding Hood, retaining a grip on our imaginations despite endless repetition. These tales of deception are so enthralling because they speak to something fundamental in the human condition. The ever-present possibility of deceit is a crucial dimension of all human relationships, even the most central: our relationships with our very own selves.Now, for the first time, philosopher and evolutionary psychologist David Livingstone Smith elucidates the essential role that deception and self-deception have played in human--and animal--evolution and shows that the very structure of our minds has been shaped from our earliest beginnings by the need to deceive. Smith shows us that by examining the stories we tell, the falsehoods we weave, and the unconscious signals we send out, we can learn much about ourselves and how our minds work.Readers of Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker will find much to intrigue them in this fascinating book, which declares that our extraordinary ability to deceive others--and even our own selves--"lies" at the heart of our humanity.
The Robot's Rebellion: Finding Meaning in the Age of Darwin
Keith E. Stanovich - 2004
Richard Dawkins, for example, jolted us into realizing that we are just survival mechanisms for our own genes, sophisticated robots in service of huge colonies of replicators to whom concepts of rationality, intelligence, agency, and even the human soul are irrelevant.Accepting and now forcefully responding to this decentering and disturbing idea, Keith Stanovich here provides the tools for the "robot's rebellion," a program of cognitive reform necessary to advance human interests over the limited interest of the replicators and define our own autonomous goals as individual human beings. He shows how concepts of rational thinking from cognitive science interact with the logic of evolution to create opportunities for humans to structure their behavior to serve their own ends. These evaluative activities of the brain, he argues, fulfill the need that we have to ascribe significance to human life. We may well be robots, but we are the only robots who have discovered that fact. Only by recognizing ourselves as such, argues Stanovich, can we begin to construct a concept of self based on what is truly singular about humans: that they gain control of their lives in a way unique among life forms on Earth—through rational self-determination.
A Natural History of Human Morality
Michael Tomasello - 2016
Based on extensive experimental data comparing great apes and human children, Michael Tomasello reconstructs how early humans gradually became an ultra-cooperative and, eventually, a moral species.There were two key evolutionary steps, each founded on a new way that individuals could act together as a plural agent “we”. The first step occurred as ecological challenges forced early humans to forage together collaboratively or die. To coordinate these collaborative activities, humans evolved cognitive skills of joint intentionality, ensuring that both partners knew together the normative standards governing each role. To reduce risk, individuals could make an explicit joint commitment that “we” forage together and share the spoils together as equally deserving partners, based on shared senses of trust, respect, and responsibility. The second step occurred as human populations grew and the division of labor became more complex. Distinct cultural groups emerged that demanded from members loyalty, conformity, and cultural identity. In becoming members of a new cultural “we”, modern humans evolved cognitive skills of collective intentionality, resulting in culturally created and objectified norms of right and wrong that everyone in the group saw as legitimate morals for anyone who would be one of “us”.As a result of this two-stage process, contemporary humans possess both a second-personal morality for face-to-face engagement with individuals and a group-minded “objective” morality that obliges them to the moral community as a whole.
Stuart A. Kauffman - 2000
Kauffman's At Home in the Universe, which The New York Times Book Review called "passionately written" and nature named "courageous," introduced pivotal ideas about order and evolution in complex life systems. In investigations, Kauffman builds on these theories and finds that classical science does not take into account that physical systems--such as people in a biosphere--effect their dynamic environments in addition to being affected by them. These systems act on their own behalf as autonomous agents, but what defines them as such? In other words, what is life? By defining and explaining autonomous agents and work in the contexts of thermodynamics and of information theory, Kauffman supplies a novel answer to this age-old question that goes beyond traditional scientific thinking. Much of Investigations unpacks the progressively surprising implications of his definition. Kauffman lays out a foundation for a new concept of organization, and explores the requirements for the emergence of a general biology that will transcend terrestrial biology to seek laws governing biospheres anywhere in the cosmos. Moreover, he presents four candidate laws to explain how autonomous agents co-create their biosphere and the startling idea of a "co-creating" cosmos. A showcase of Kauffman's most fundamental and significant ideas, Investigations presents a new way of thinking about the basics of general biology that will change the way we understand life itself--on this planet and anywhere else in the cosmos.
Not a Chance: God, Science, and the Revolt Against Reason
R.C. Sproul - 1994
C. Sproul asks an important question: Can chance be responsible for all that is?In a lively dialogue with modern thinkers from Einstein and Hume to Niels Bohr and Carl Sagan, Not a Chance consults the laws of logic, linguistic and scientific theory, and mathematical understanding to probe the cause-effect relationship. Now in paperback, it is the only book-length critique of chance causation written by an evangelical. Sproul shows that the origin of the universe and humankind cannot be explained as a result of chance, and that chance can coexist neither with God nor with the natural sciences.Readers interested in cultural apologetics and in the Bible and science, and anyone seeking a rational defense of creation, will be intrigued by this book. Twenty-five illustrations are included to aid the readers understanding.
One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought
Ernst W. Mayr - 1991
Its effects on our view of life have been wide and deep. One of the most world-shaking books ever published, Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, first appeared in print over 130 years ago, and it touched off a debate that rages to this day.Every modern evolutionist turns to Darwin's work again and again. Current controversies in the life sciences very often have as their starting point some vagueness in Darwin's writings or some question Darwin was unable to answer owing to the insufficient biological knowledge available during his time. Despite the intense study of Darwin's life and work, however, many of us cannot explain his theories (he had several separate ones) and the evidence and reasoning behind them, nor do we appreciate the modifications of the Darwinian paradigm that have kept it viable throughout the twentieth century.Who could elucidate the subtleties of Darwin's thought and that of his contemporaries and intellectual heirs--A. R. Wallace, T. H. Huxley, August Weismann, Asa Gray--better than Ernst Mayr, a man considered by many to be the greatest evolutionist of the century? In this gem of historical scholarship, Mayr has achieved a remarkable distillation of Charles Darwin's scientific thought and his enormous legacy to twentieth-century biology. Here we have an accessible account of the revolutionary ideas that Darwin thrust upon the world. Describing his treatise as "one long argument," Darwin definitively refuted the belief in the divine creation of each individual species, establishing in its place the concept that all of life descended from a common ancestor. He proposed the idea that humans were not the special products of creation but evolved according to principles that operate everywhere else in the living world; he upset current notions of a perfectly designed, benign natural world and substituted in their place the concept of a struggle for survival; and he introduced probability, chance, and uniqueness into scientific discourse.This is an important book for students, biologists, and general readers interested in the history of ideas--especially ideas that have radically altered our worldview. Here is a book by a grand master that spells out in simple terms the historical issues and presents the controversies in a manner that makes them understandable from a modern perspective.
Dogs: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior Evolution
Raymond Coppinger - 2001
Drawing on insight gleaned from forty-five years of raising, training, and studying the behaviors of dogs worldwide, Lorna and Raymond Coppinger explore the fascinating processes by which dog breeds have evolved into their unique shapes and behaviors. Concentrating on five types of dogs -- modern household dogs, village dogs, livestock-guarding dogs, sled dogs, and herding dogs -- the Coppingers, internationally recognized canine ethologists and consummate dog lovers, examine our canine companions from a unique biological viewpoint. "Dogs" clearly points the way for dog lovers, dog therapists, veterinarians, and all others who deal with dogs to understand their animals from a fresh perspective.How did the domestic dog become a distinct species from the wolf? Why do different breeds behave differently? Most important, how can we improve the relationship between humans and dogs?The authors show how dogs' different abilities depend upon the confluence of their nature and nurture -- that both genetics and the environment play equally key roles. They also reveal that many people inadvertently harm their canine companions because they fail to understand dogs' biological needs and dispositions."Dogs" is a highly readable biological approach by noted researchers that provides a wealth of new information about the interaction of nature and nurture, and demonstrates how unique dog behavior is in the animal world.
Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life
David Grinspoon - 2003
David Grinspoon, a planetary scientist who has helped to shape modern planetary exploration, brings the subject to a new generation of readers with his reflections on the most recent developments in astrobiology, including NASA's search for life on Mars. In Lonely Planets, he investigates the big questions: How widespread are life and intelligence in the cosmos? Is life on Earth an accident or in some sense the "purpose" of this universe? And how can we, working from the Earth-centric definition of "life," even begin to think about the varieties of life-forms on other planets?Using the topic of extraterrestrial life as a mirror with which to view human beliefs, evolution, history, and aspirations, Grinspoon provides an authoritative scientific narrative of cosmic evolution, along with provocative ruminations on how we fit into the story of the universe. An accessible, lively blend of science, history, philosophy, and personal narrative, Lonely Planets reveals how the search for extraterrestrial life unites our spiritual and scientific quests for connection with the cosmos.
Why You Are Who You Are: Investigations Into Human Personality
Mark R. Leary - 2017
Why does a simple incident like a traffic jam affect you the way it does? What makes you act the way you do around your friends and family? Why do you often see the world so differently from the way other people see it? The answer to these questions and more really comes down to one thing: your personality.
From So Simple a Beginning: Voyage of the Beagle / Origin of Species / Descent of Man / Expression of Emotions in Man & Animals
Charles Darwin - 2005
Beagle (1845), The Origin of Species (1859), The Descent of Man (1871), and The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals (1872)--been collected under one cover. Undertaking this challenging endeavor 123 years after Darwin's death, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Edward O. Wilson has written an introductory essay for the occasion, while providing new, insightful introductions to each of the four volumes and an afterword that examines the fate of evolutionary theory in an era of religious resistance. In addition, Wilson has crafted a creative new index to accompany these four texts, which links the nineteenth-century, Darwinian evolutionary concepts to contemporary biological thought. Beautifully slipcased, and including restored versions of the original illustrations, From So Simple a Beginning turns our attention to the astounding power of the natural creative process and the magnificence of its products.
Heretic: One Scientist's Journey from Darwin to Design
Matti Leisola - 2018
Just ask biotechnologist Matti Leisola. It all started when a student loaned the Finnish scientist a book criticizing evolutionary theory. Leisola reacted angrily, and set out to defend evolution, but found his efforts raised more questions than they answered. He soon morphed into a full-on Darwin skeptic, even as he was on his way to becoming a leading bio-engineer.Heretic is the story of Leisola's adventures making waves-and many friends and enemies-at major research labs and universities across Europe. Tracing his investigative path, the book draws on Leisola's expertise in molecular biology to show how the evidence points more strongly than ever to the original biotechnologist-a designing intelligence whose skill and reach dwarf those of even our finest bioengineers, and leave blind evolution in the dust.Endorsements "Award-winning Finnish biotechnologist Matti Leisola has written a fascinating account of what happens when a scientist follows the evidence wherever it leads. Leisola's account of how he succeeded should inspire up-and-coming scientists who face the same challenge." Biologist Jonathan Wells, PhD, author of Icons of Evolution and Zombie Science "Scientists, like all other intellectuals, have ideas about what constitutes and what does not constitute reality. However, they are often not aware-and sometimes not ready to admit-that such ideas represent the principles of their philosophy. Leisola and Witt's Heretic is a unique first-hand account of the life-long adventures of a scientist who dared to challenge philosophical principles of colleague scientists. In my opinion, the outcome shows that to many scientists their philosophy is dearer than their science." Biochemist and inventor Branko Kozulic, PhD "This book is an exciting story about how a scientist's relentless search for truth makes him a heretic in the eyes of a cultural community more concerned about prestige than principle." Tapio Puolimatka, PhD and EdD, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland "This book is a personal, strong, and motivated plea for intelligent design (ID) and 'swims against the current' of Darwinian evolution, now generally accepted in scientific circles and society. I personally do not endorse ID, but I am a good friend of the author, whom I also highly respect as a scientist active in academia and in the biotech industry over so many years. Heretic inspires readers to think critically and to open up a civilized discussion on neo-Darwinism versus ID. It covers the science and philosophical parts adequately; it is accessible to a large readership; and statements are underpinned by relevant research and literature data. Its value lies in the author's lifelong engagement and personal crusade to stimulate the public debate among scientists as well as laymen over Darwinism (chance/random mutation and natural selection) versus ID, a vision that Leisola strongly advocates." Dr. Erick J. Vandamme, Emeritus Professor of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Belgium "Matti Leisola has written the exciting story of almost the entire spectrum of aberrant motives, absurd fears, and unreasonable reactions to intelligent design (ID) by evolutionary scientists, clergymen, and church institutions alike, notably during his career as a scientist over the last some forty years. I would add a word on the fears of so many critics that accepting ID also means accepting the dogmata of some 1700 years of church history. ID is thoroughly neutral concerning such topics. So, the reader is invited to carefully check the historical and, what is more, the enormous wealth of scientific data Matti Leisola has presented in the present book: Test them carefully with an open mind and form your own independent opinion!" Dr. Wolf-Ekkehard Lonnig, geneticist, Cologne,
So You Think You're Human: A Brief History of Humankind
Felipe Fernández-Armesto - 2004
Shows how our concept of humankind has changed over time and argues our current understanding of what it means to be human has been shaken by new discoveries from science and philosophy.
Acquiring Genomes: A Theory Of The Origin Of Species
Lynn Margulis - 2002
Random genetic mutation, long believed to be the main source of variation, is only a marginal factor. As the authors demonstrate in this book, the more important source of speciation, by far, is the acquisition of new genomes by symbiotic merger. The result of thirty years of delving into a vast, mostly arcane literature, this is the first book to go beyond -- and reveal the severe limitations of -- the "Modern Synthesis" that has dominated evolutionary biology for almost three generations. Lynn Margulis, whom E. O. Wilson called "one of the most successful synthetic thinkers in modern biology," and her co-author Dorion Sagan have written a comprehensive and scientifically supported presentation of a theory that directly challenges the assumptions we hold about the variety of the living world.
The Theory of Evolution
John Maynard Smith - 1976
A hundred years ago Darwin and Wallace in their theory of natural selection, or the survival of the fittest, explained how evolution could have happened, in terms of processes known to take place today. In this book John Maynard Smith describes how their theory has been confirmed, but at the same time transformed, by recent research, and in particular by the discovery of the laws of inheritance.