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Defining Darwin: Essays on the History and Philosophy of Evolutionary Biology Hardcover – July 28, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1591027256 ISBN-10: 159102725X

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael Ruse (Tallahassee, FL) is the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and director of the History and Philosophy of Science program at Florida State University. He is the founding editor of the journal Biology and Philosophy and the author or editor of The Stem Cell Controversy (with Christopher Pynes); Cloning: Responsible Science or Technomadness? (with Aryne Sheppard); Taking Darwin Seriously; Philosophy of Biology; and But Is It Science? (with Robert Pennock), among many other works.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (July 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159102725X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591027256
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,649,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Richard W. Nelson on January 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Defining Darwin is a dynamic chronicle of the history of evolution culminating with Darwin as the central character. Michael Ruse details how the players and movements over the centuries have contributed, in varying ways, to the development of the theory of evolution.

The most surprising finding is discovering how nearly all the major players sponsored untenable evolutionary ideas, according to Ruse--even Darwin. Ruse writes, "the truth is that there is virtually nothing today in evolutionary studies that corresponds to the facts of the Origin."

Starting with Immanuel Kant, Ruse places into perspective the influence the key players--Erasmus Darwin, Baptiste de Lamarck, Robert Chambers, Georges Cuvier, Alfred Russel Wallace, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, John F. W. Herschel, William Whewell, Charles Lyell, Asa Gray, William Paley, Herbert Spencer, Thomas Henry Huxley, Theodius Dobzhansky, Sewall Wright, Julian Huxley, Adam Sedgwick, John Henslow, Josiah Wedgwood, Robert Malthus, Ernst Mayr, Gregor Mendel, Ronald Fisher, J. B. S. Haldane, Edward D. Cope, E.G. Conklin, Stephen Jay Gould, Niles Eldredge, R. A. Fisher, George Gaylord Simpson, David Hume, Alfred Tennyson, George Bernard Shaw, Richard Dawkins, Ernst Haeckel, Rudolf Raff, Daniel Dennett, John Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, E. B. Ford, G. Ledyard Stebbins, and Edward O. Wilson.

Ruse give his perspective on The Origin of Species, natural selection, social Darwinism, humanism, nature as a machine, evolution and ethics, evolutionary humanism, metaethics, Darwin versus Spencer, determinism, evo-devo, genetics, Darwin and religion, evolution as religion, synthetic theory, and Richard Dawkins.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Hande Z on November 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a collection of fine essays on Darwin, his life, work, and theory. The collectiion was put together almost seamlessly and read as a fine, readable book. Ruse had hitherto been writing books on Darwin and evolutionary biology and philosophy in a way that created the impression that he was holding out the possibility that in spite of the force of evolutionary science god might still have a place in this world. This book categorically disabuses such impressions. He remains, however, staunchly anti-Dawkins and the "new atheists" but has made it clear that the basis of his distaste for them is based on his belief that Dawkins was not speaking as a scientist when he attacks religion, and that Darwinism according to the Dawkins school is as much a religion as Christianity. Ruse may be forgiven for thinking that indomitable faith of any kind is bad in that it is unwarranted and unscientific. The real quarrel between the Christian and Dawkins is that one believes in god while the other does not. In that sense, Ruse himself had it right when he said that in the end it is all semantics. Ruse appears starkly in this book as clearly anti-creationist and 100% scientist. The reader will find the many biopics of relevant personalities in the history of evolutionary progress such as Alfred wallace and Julian Huxley fascinating - even if he might not agree with Ruse's opinions of them - and he can be said to be a harsh judge.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
DEFINING DARWIN: ESSAYS ON THE HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY comes from one of the foremost Darwin scholars of our time who for forty years has written extensively on Darwin and his works. This survey re-evaluates Darwin's impact and offers new and recent essays showing historic and current challenges to his theories and the metaphor of natural selection. Science libraries - particularly at the college level - will find its discussions perfect for classroom debate.
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