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Agents and Goals in Evolution by Samir Okasha
Robert D. Barnes - 1963
This thorough revision provides a survey by groups, emphasizing adaptive morphology and physiology, while covering anatomical ground plans and basic developmental patterns. New co-author Richard Fox brings to the revision his expertise as an ecologist, offering a good balance to Ruppert's background as a functional morphologist. Rich illustrations and extensive citations make the book extremely valuable as a teaching tool and reference source.
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.
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.
Science and Human Origins
Ann Gauger - 2012
But is it? In this provocative book, three scientists challenge the claim that undirected natural selection is capable of building a human being, critically assess fossil and genetic evidence that human beings share a common ancestor with apes, and debunk recent claims that the human race could not have started from an original couple.
The Top 10 Myths about Evolution
Cameron M. Smith - 2006
Recent surveys have revealed that only about half of Americans realize that humans have never lived side by side with dinosaurs, and about the same number reject the idea that humans developed from earlier species of animals. This lack of knowledge in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence for evolution springs from a number of negative influences in contemporary society: poor secondary education in some regions of the country, misinformation in the mass media, and deliberate obfuscation by supporters of Creationism and Intelligent Design. In this concise, accessible, "myth-buster's handbook," educators Cameron M. Smith and Charles Sullivan clearly dispel the ten most common myths about evolution, which continue to mislead average Americans. Using a refreshing, jargon-free style, they set the record straight on claims that evolution is "just a theory," that Darwinian explanations of life undercut morality, that Intelligent Design is a legitimate alternative to conventional science, that humans come from chimpanzees, and six other popular but erroneous notions. Smith and Sullivan's reader-friendly, solidly researched text will serve as an important tool, both for teachers and laypersons seeking accurate information about evolution.
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.
The Animal Kingdom: A Very Short Introduction
Peter Holland - 2011
Moreover, groundbreaking research on genes, and especially key families of genes such as the Homeobox genes which control the development of body plans, has led to radical changes in the classification of animals. In this Very Short Introduction, Peter Holland presents a cutting-edge tour of the animal kingdom, providing an authoritative summary of the modern view of animal life, its origins, and the new classification resulting from DNA studies. Beginning with the definition of animals (not obvious in biological terms), Holland takes the reader through the revolutionary new high-level groupings of animals (phyla) based on evolutionary relationships and ancestry. Ranging from corals and sponges to nematodes, sea squirts, and vertebrates, and illuminating many key topics in zoology, this fascinating, brief overview will be of great value to all students of the life sciences as well as providing a concise summary for the interested lay reader.
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.
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.
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.
Yuval Noah Harari Collection 3 Books Set (Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind, Homo Deus A Brief History of Tomorrow, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century)
Yuval Noah Harari - 2019
Farming made us hungry for more. Money gave us purpose. Science made us deadly. This is the thrilling account of our extraordinary history – from insignificant apes to rulers of the world. Homo Deus- Yuval Noah Harari envisions a near future in which we face a new set of challenges. Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century and beyond – from overcoming death to creating artificial life. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century- Yuval Noah Harari takes us on a thrilling journey through today’s most urgent issues. The golden thread running through his exhilarating new book is the challenge of maintaining our collective and individual focus in the face of constant and disorienting change. Are we still capable of understanding the world we have created?
What on Earth Happened?: The Complete Story of the Planet, Life, and People from the Big Bang to the Present Day
Christopher Lloyd - 2008
Along the way, he explains exactly how Muslim conquest gave Spain its paella, how the Earth's collision with another young planet created the moon, how dragonflies the size of seagulls emerged out of the prehistoric waters, and how the Big Bang can be detected in your television. Accessible and endlessly entertaining, this massive book draws on disciplines as wide-ranging as astrophysics and anthropology and will appeal to experts, amateur enthusiasts and the simply curious alike. Completed by 250 colourful photographs, maps, historic paintings, engravings and specially commissioned illustrations, What on Earth Happened? takes an entertaining and informed sideways look at the last 13.7 billion years in the life of our universe. Do you know What on Earth Happened?