Keywords in Evolutionary Biology

Keywords in Evolutionary Biology

by Evelyn Fox Keller
     
 

In science, more than elsewhere, a word is expected to mean what it says, nothing more, nothing less. But scientific discourse is neither different nor separable from ordinary language—meanings are multiple, ambiguities ubiquitous. Keywords in Evolutionary Biology grapples with this problem in a field especially prone to the confusion engendered by

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Overview

In science, more than elsewhere, a word is expected to mean what it says, nothing more, nothing less. But scientific discourse is neither different nor separable from ordinary language—meanings are multiple, ambiguities ubiquitous. Keywords in Evolutionary Biology grapples with this problem in a field especially prone to the confusion engendered by semantic imprecision.

Written by historians, philosophers, and biologists—including, among others, Stephen Jay Gould, Diane Paul, John Beatty, Robert Richards, Richard Lewontin, David Sloan Wilson, Peter Bowler, and Richard Dawkins—these essays identify and explicate those terms in evolutionary biology which, though commonly used, are plagues by multiple concurrent and historically varying meanings. By clarifying these terms in their many guises, the editors Evelyn Fox Keller and Elisabeth Lloyd hope to focus attention on major scholarly problems in the field—problems sometimes obscured, sometimes reveals, and sometimes even created by the use of such equivocal words. "Competition," "adaptation," and "fitness," for instance, are among the terms whose multiple meaning have led to more than merely semantic debates in evolutionary biology.

Exploring the complexity of keywords and clarifying their role in prominent issues in the field, this book will prove invaluable to scientists and philosophers trying to come to terms with evolutionary theory; it will also serve as a useful guide to future research into the way in which scientific language works.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674503120
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
01/28/1992
Pages:
430
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.55(h) x 1.33(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Evelyn Fox Keller is Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at MIT. She is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and numerous honorary degrees.

Elisabeth A. Lloyd is Arnold and Maxine Tanis Chair of History and Philosophy of Science and Professor of Biology, Indiana University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Contributors
Introduction1
Adaptation: Historical Perspectives7
Adaptation: Current Usages13
Altruism: Theoretical Contexts19
Altruism: Contemporary Debates29
Altruism: Some Theoretical Ambiguities34
Character: Historical Perspectives41
Character: Current Usages45
Community52
Competition: Historical Perspectives61
Competition: Current Usages68
Darwinism74
Environment81
Epistasis87
Eugenics92
Evolution95
Extinction106
Fitness: Historical Perspectives112
Fitness: Theoretical Contexts115
Fitness: Reproductive Ambiguities120
Gene: Historical Perspectives122
Gene: Current Usages128
Genetic Load132
Genotype and Phenotype137
Group Selection145
Heritability: Historical Perspectives149
Heritability: Some Theoretical Ambiguities151
Heterochrony158
Heterosis166
Homology170
Individual180
Lamarckism188
Macromutation194
Monophyly202
Mutualism and Cooperation208
Natural Selection: Historical Perspectives212
Natural Selection: Current Usages220
Neutralism225
Niche: Historical Perspectives231
Niche: A Bifurcation in the Conceptual Lineage of the Term241
Parsimony249
Phenotypic Plasticity255
Progress263
Random Drift273
Resource282
Sexual Selection: Historical Perspectives286
Sexual Selection: Contemporary Debates294
Species: Historical Perspectives302
Species: Theoretical Contexts312
Species: Current Usages318
Teleology324
Unit of Selection334
References343
Index395

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