Not by Design: Retiring Darwin's Watchmaker

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Overview

More Than Two Centuries Ago, William Paley introduced his famous metaphor of the universe as a watch made by the Creator. For Paley, the exquisite structure of the universe necessitated a designer. Today, some 150 years since Darwin's On the Origin of Species was published, the argument of design is seeing a revival. Explaining how Darwin left the door open for this revival, this provocative work proposes a new conceptual framework that avoids the problematic teleology inherent in Darwin's formulation of natural selection. In a wide-ranging discussion of the historical and philosophical dimensions of evolutionary theory from the ancient Greeks to today, John O. Reiss argues that we should look to the principle of the conditions for existence, formulated before On the Origin of Species by the French paleontologist Georges Cuvier, to clarify the relation of adaptation to evolution. Reiss suggests that Cuvier's principle can help resolve persistent issues in evolutionary biology, including the proper definition of natural selection, the distinction between natural selection and genetic drift, and the meaning of genetic load. Moreover, he shows how this principle can help unite diverse areas of biology, ranging from quantitative genetics and the theory of the levels of selection to evo-devo, ecology, physiology, and conservation biology.

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Editorial Reviews

American Scientist

“An important book that should be widely read and discussed.”
Integrative & Comparative Bio (Sicb) - Anne-Marie C. Hodge

“An engaging read and is sure to stimulate much-needed discussion about the details of current evolutionary concepts.”
Metapsychology Online Review

“[Not by Design] offers a rare synthesis of insights from quite diverse fields. . . . A good place to make relevant discoveries.”
Biological Conservation - James D. Williams

“Well documented.”
Metapsychology Online Review - Christina Behme

“[This book] offers a rare synthesis of insights from quite diverse fields.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520271296
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 440
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


John O. Reiss is Professor of Zoology at Humboldt State University.
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Table of Contents

Preface: Beyond the Design Metaphor xiii

Part 1 Prolegomena 1

1 The Problem 3

Teleology and Natural Selection 4

A Role for History 5

Overview of the Book (and How to Read It) 6

2 Philosophical Background 9

Teleological Explanation: Intentional, Representational, and Conditional 9

Teleology and Necessity 12

A Taxonomy of Teleology 13

The Principle of the Conditions for Existence 17

The Conditions for Existence and the Weak Anthropic Principle 19

Natural Selection and the Argument from Design 20

The Conditions for Existence and Evolutionary Explanation 22

The Function Debate 24

Part 2 How Did We Get into This Mess? From Socrates and Lucretius to Cuvier and Darwin 29

3 Design versus the Epicurean Hypothesis:

Two Thousand Years of Debate 31

The Teleogists: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle 32

Empedocles and the Atomists 38

The End of the Classical Era and the Rise of Christianity 41

The Scientific Revolution and the Revolt against Teleology 43

Rational Theology and the Argument of Design: The Later Seventeenth Century 45

The Deists, the Platonists, and the Rebirth of Natural Theology 48

The Mechanical Philosophy and the Argument of Design: Boyle, Ray, and Newton 51

4 Materialism, Teleology, and Evolution in the Enlightenment 57

The Origins of the Enlightenment: Bayle 57

The Philosophes, Materialism, and Lucretius (1744-1750) 59

Buffon, Maupertuis, and the Birth of Evolutionary Theory (1749-1755) 64

The Later Enlightenment: d'Holbach and Hume 71

Kant and the German Enlightenment 74

The Critical Philosophy 78

5 Cuvier and the Principle of the Conditions for Existence 85

Biographical Background86

Cuvier's Project in the Context of Enlightenment Science 95

The Enunciation of the Principle and Its Place in Cuvier's System 98

The Philosophical Origins and Significance of the Principle 103

The Influence of the Principle in France and Germany 113

6 Darwin, Natural Theology, and the Principle of Natural Selection 121

Adaptedness and Existence in British Natural Theology 122

The Conditions for Existence Meet Natural Theology 124

Geology and the Explanation of Life's History 126

Darwin, Extinction, and Evolution 128

Darwin and the Conditions for Existence 136

Wallace and the Conditions for Existence 141

Darwin, Wallace, and Inheritance 145

Evolutionary Controversies before the Synthesis 146

Part 3 Evolution in Mendelian Populations: Teleology Gets Mathematical 151

7 Existence and the Mathematics of Selection: The Adaptive Landscape versus the Fundamental Theorem 153

Mendelism, Selection, and the Modern Synthesis 154

Rates of Increase in Mendelian Populations 155

Fitness in Population Genetics 164

Ironing Out Wright's "Surface of Selective Value" 166

The Genesis of Wright's Surface 171

Fisher and the Fundamental Theorem 177

What Is Selected? 182

Fisher's Geometrical Model of Adaptedness 184

The Reemergence of the Adaptive Landscape 186

8 Population Growth, Genetic Load, and the Limits of Selection 191

Variance in Rate of Increase: The Opportunity for Selection (and Drift) in Natural Populations 192

Standardized Variance versus Population Growth: Data 195

Standardized Variance versus Population Growth: Mathematical Considerations 201

Genetic Load: The Dark Side of Natural Selection 205

Limits to Selection and the Standardized Variance in Rate of Increase 213

Genetic Load and Genetic Deaths 215

The Measurement of Total Selection in Existing Populations 216

Population Growth, Selection, and Standardized Variance 218

Partitioning the Variance in Rate of Increase across the Life Cycle 220

9 Natural Selection and Genetic Drift: Their Role in Evolutionary Change 225

What's Really Going On? 227

Model Populations 230

The Hagedoorns, Fisher, and the Origins of Genetic Drift 234

The "Sewall Wright Effect" 236

Drift and the Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution 238

Molecular Tests of Drift and Selection 239

Problems in Paradise 242

Drift and Mutation Pressure in Phenotypic Evolution 250

Part 4 The Conditions for Existence and Evolutionary Biology 255

10 Adaptedness, Natural Selection, and the Conditions for Existence 257

Adaptation versus Adaptedness 258

Adaptedness of What? 259

Adaptedness, Adaptation, Function, and Natural Selection: How Are They Related? 262

Empirical Studies of Evolution: Bacteria, Peppered Moths, and Darwin's Finches 267

11 How to Talk about Macroevolution 279

The Explanatory Role of Natural Selection: The Mechanism and the Principle 280

Teleology and the Terminology of Selection 285

Constraints: By What and on What? 292

The Conditions for Existence in Macroevolutionary Explanation: The Origin of Bird Flight 297

12 The Conditions for Existence as a Unifying Concept in Evolutionary Biology 313

Quantitative Genetics and the Conditions for Existence 313

Levels of Selection and the Conditions for Existence 319

Evo-Devo and the Conditions for Existence 326

The Ecological Niche and the Conditions for Existence 330

Physiology and the Conditions for Existence 339

Conservation Biology, Genetic Load, and the Conditions for Existence 346

Conclusion 353

Epilogue: Evolutionary Biology and Intelligent Design 355

Glossary 357

References 361

Index 401

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