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Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins Paperback – May 15, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (May 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226608417
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226608419
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Essential.”
(Choice)

“These fascinating, well-referenced, discussions, covering such causes célèbres as Paley, Lysenko, and Dawkins, will surely be of value to the teacher and student, to practicing scientist and those interested in the relationship between science and society.”

(David E. Packham Metascience)

“A gripping book on the grey area between the use and abuse of biology for ideological purposes. Eugenics, racism and sexism, apologias for theism, vitalism, and atheism are just a few of the agendas that have shaped, and been shaped by, biological theory. Describing extrapolations that have often added to the sum of human suffering, the essays here, from distinguished historians of science, are authoritative, compelling, and disturbing.”
(John Brooke, University of Oxford)

About the Author

Denis R. Alexander is director of The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge, and has worked in the biological research community for the past forty years. Ronald R. Numbers is Hilldale Professor of History of Science and Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the coeditor of , also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Waldorf Heinrichs on June 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
Russian-American philosopher Ayn Rand is credited with the creation of objectivism--an ideology built upon a foundation of an objective reality that exists independent of human consciousness. Contact with this reality is limited to what can be accomplished through sense perception. Denis Alexander (St. Edmund's College, Cambridge) and Ronald Numbers (Univ. Wisconsin-Madison) join twelve other experts in an in-depth exploration of how this disconnect has led to a history of abuse surrounding the application of scientific knowledge. While the scientific method is often thought of as an objective method employed to make contact with an objective reality, the scientists themselves are immersed in cultures with deep ideologies that exert a powerful influence on the analysis and extrapolation of scientific information. As the title implies, the contributors present their arguments within a historical framework that originates at the Enlightenment, and ends with the contemporary atheist apologetics. The text presents arguments surrounding biology's influence on a diverse array of ideologies, including Nazism, Marxism, Lysenkoism, materialism, naturalism, and vitalism. The most recognizable and well-developed example presented is the application of evolutionary theory to the eugenics movement. The text contains extensive references and should be considered a must read for students of the history and philosophy of biology.
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