Evolution and the Levels of Selection

Author: Samir Okasha
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199267979
Format: PDF, ePub
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Does natural selection act primarily on individual organisms, on groups, on genes, or on whole species? Samir Okasha provides a comprehensive analysis of the debate in evolutionary biology over the levels of selection, focusing on conceptual, philosophical and foundational questions. A systematic framework is developed for thinking about natural selection acting at multiple levels of the biological hierarchy; the framework is then used to help resolve outstanding issues. Considerable attention is paid to the concept of causality as it relates to the levels of selection, in particular the idea that natural selection at one hierarchical level can have effects that 'filter' up or down to other levels. Unlike previous work in this area by philosophers of science, full account is taken of the recent biological literature on 'major evolutionary transitions' and the recent resurgence of interest in multi-level selection theory among biologists. Other biological topics discussed include Price's equation, kin and group selection, the gene's eye view, evolutionary game theory, outlaws and selfish genetic elements, species and clade selection, and the evolution of individuality. Philosophical topics discussed include reductionism and holism, causation and correlation, the nature of hierarchical organization, and realism and pluralism.

Levels of Selection in Evolution

Author: Laurent Keller
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9780691007045
Format: PDF, Docs
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Evolutionary biologists have recognised that natural selection operates for the good of lower-level units (the individual, the cell, even the gene) rather than the good of the group. In this volume, 12 scientists discuss why this should be the case.

The Selfish Gene

Author: Richard Dawkins
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN: 9780192860927
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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An ethologist shows man to be a gene machine whose world is one of savage competition and deceit

Adaptation and Natural Selection

Author: George Christopher Williams
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400820108
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Biological evolution is a fact--but the many conflicting theories of evolution remain controversial even today. In 1966, simple Darwinism, which holds that evolution functions primarily at the level of the individual organism, was threatened by opposing concepts such as group selection, a popular idea stating that evolution acts to select entire species rather than individuals. George Williams's famous argument in favor of the Darwinists struck a powerful blow to those in opposing camps. His Adaptation and Natural Selection, now a classic of science literature, is a thorough and convincing essay in defense of Darwinism; its suggestions for developing effective principles for dealing with the evolution debate and its relevance to many fields outside biology ensure the timelessness of this critical work.

Unto Others

Author: Elliott Sober
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674930476
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In Unto Others philosopher Elliott Sober and biologist David Sloan Wilson demonstrate once and for all that unselfish behavior is in fact an important feature of both biological and human nature. Their book provides a panoramic view of altruism throughout the animal kingdom - from self-sacrificing parasites to insects that subsume themselves in the superorganism of a colony to the human capacity for selflessness - even as it explains the evolutionary sense of such behavior. Sober and Wilson offer a detailed case study of scientific change as well as an indisputable argument for group selection as a legitimate theory in evolutionary biology.

Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection

Author: Peter Godfrey-Smith
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0191609552
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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

The Evolution of Complexity by Means of Natural Selection

Author: John Tyler Bonner
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9780691084947
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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John Tyler Bonner makes a new attack on an old problem: the question of how progressive increase in the size and complexity of animals and plants has occurred. "How is it," he inquires, "that an egg turns into an elaborate adult? How is it that a bacterium, given many millions of years, could have evolved into an elephant?" The author argues that we can understand this progression in terms of natural selection, but that in order to do so we must consider the role of development--or more precisely the role of life cycles--in evolutionary change. In a lively writing style that will be familiar to readers of his work The Evolution of Culture in Animals (Princeton, 1980), Bonner addresses a general audience interested in biology, as well as specialists in all areas of evolutionary biology. What is novel in the approach used here is the comparison of complexity inside the organism (especially cell differentiation) with the complexity outside (that is, within an ecological community). Matters of size at both these levels are closely related to complexity. The book shows how an understanding of the grand course of evolution can come from combining our knowledge of genetics, development, ecology, and even behavior.

The Structure of Evolutionary Theory

Author: Stephen Jay Gould
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674417925
Format: PDF, Kindle
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The world’s most revered and eloquent interpreter of evolutionary ideas offers here a work of explanatory force unprecedented in our time—a landmark publication, both for its historical sweep and for its scientific vision. With characteristic attention to detail, Stephen Jay Gould first describes the content and discusses the history and origins of the three core commitments of classical Darwinism: that natural selection works on organisms, not genes or species; that it is almost exclusively the mechanism of adaptive evolutionary change; and that these changes are incremental, not drastic. Next, he examines the three critiques that currently challenge this classic Darwinian edifice: that selection operates on multiple levels, from the gene to the group; that evolution proceeds by a variety of mechanisms, not just natural selection; and that causes operating at broader scales, including catastrophes, have figured prominently in the course of evolution. Then, in a stunning tour de force that will likely stimulate discussion and debate for decades, Gould proposes his own system for integrating these classical commitments and contemporary critiques into a new structure of evolutionary thought. In 2001 the Library of Congress named Stephen Jay Gould one of America’s eighty-three Living Legends—people who embody the “quintessentially American ideal of individual creativity, conviction, dedication, and exuberance.” Each of these qualities finds full expression in this peerless work, the likes of which the scientific world has not seen—and may not see again—for well over a century.

Does Altruism Exist

Author: David Sloan Wilson
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 0300206755
Format: PDF, Mobi
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David Sloan Wilson, one of the world’s leading evolutionists, addresses a question that has puzzled philosophers, psychologists, and evolutionary biologists for centuries: Does altruism exist naturally among the Earth’s creatures? The key to understanding the existence of altruism, Wilson argues, is by understanding the role it plays in the social organization of groups. Groups that function like organisms indubitably exist, and organisms evolved from groups. Evolutionists largely agree on how functionally organized groups evolve, ending decades of controversy, but the resolution casts altruism in a new light: altruism exists but shouldn’t necessarily occupy center stage in our understanding of social behavior. After laying a general theoretical foundation, Wilson surveys altruism and group-level functional organization in our own species—in religion, in economics, and in the rest of everyday life. He shows that altruism is not categorically good and can have pathological consequences. Finally, he shows how a social theory that goes beyond altruism by focusing on group function can help to improve the human condition in a practical sense. Does Altruism Exist? puts old controversies to rest and will become the center of debate for decades to come.