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Evolution, the Extended Synthesis 0th Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0262513678
ISBN-10: 0262513676
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Editorial Reviews


The essays in this volume provide ample food for thought, and from all the major food groups! The Modern Synthesis in evolutionary theory, and what lies beyond, are assessed here from multiple angles. This book will greatly interest evolutionary biologists and philosophers of evolutionary biology alike.

(Elliot Sober, Hans Reichenbach Professor and William F. Vilas Research Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

The twenty-first century will likely be the century of biology, just as the twentieth century was the century of physics. The central, organizing theory of biology is -- and will remain -- the theory of evolution. If you want to know how the theory of evolution will likely expand and be configured in the twenty-first century, reading Evolution, the Extended Synthesis is a good way to start.

(Francisco J. Ayala, Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences, University of California, Irvine and author of Human Evolution: Trails from the Past)

An impressive and provocative overview; it should become the focus of semester-long graduate student reading groups across the country, as it has at my home institution.

(Michael J. Wade BioScience)

About the Author

Massimo Pigliucci is Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York.

Gerd B. Müller is Professor of Theoretical Biology at the University of Vienna and Chairman of the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research. He is a coeditor of Origination of Organismal Form (MIT Press, 2003) and Modeling Biology (MIT Press, 2007).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 504 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (March 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262513676
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262513678
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #880,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Massimo Pigliucci is a Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York. His research is concerned with philosophy of science, the relationship between science and philosophy, and the nature of pseudoscience.

He received a Doctorate in Genetics from the University of Ferrara in Italy, a PhD in Botany from the University of Connecticut, and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tennessee. He has published over a hundred technical papers and several books. Prof. Pigliucci has been awarded the prestigious Dobzhansky Prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution. He has been elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science "for fundamental studies of genotype by environmental interactions and for public defense of evolutionary biology from pseudoscientific attack."

In the areas of outreach and critical thinking, Prof. Pigliucci has published in national magazines such as Skeptic, Skeptical Inquirer, Philosophy Now, and The Philosopher's Magazine, among others. He has also been elected as a Consultant for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Pigliucci pens the "Rationally Speaking" blog (, and co-hosts the Rationally Speaking podcast.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Sena on July 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Massimo Pigliucci in his introduction to this book makes it clear that the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis is a provisional one subject to modification in the light of further discoveries in the field which are coming thick and fast. The accusation of cowardice made by the previous reviewer is therefore, I think, unjustified.

As a non-specialist reader with a basic background in biology there were a number of concepts in this book which I found hard to comprehend. What I enjoyed in this book was coming across startling new ideas which spurred me to further reading. As an example I shall mention the article by Eva Jablonka of Tel Aviv University. She questions one of the traditional tenets of evolutionary theory, that the targets of natural selection are individual organisms. Since the bodies of humans and other higher animals contain symbionts and parasites that are transferred from one generation of the host to the next, she quotes the ideas of Zilber-Rosenberg who suggests that it may be necessary to consider such communities (of the human organism and its symbiotic bacteria) as targets of selection.

When I searched for more information on this topic, I found that a developing idea was that humans are now being considered as superorganisms with two genomes that dictate phenotype, the genetically inherited human genome (25,000 genes) and the environmentally acquired human microbiome (over 1 million genes). There is now evidence that one function of these microbes in the gut is to process certain components of the diet and enable the deposition of this extracted energy in host fat depots. This would have been beneficial in the course of evolution when our ancestors did not have reliable access to food supplies, but may now contribute to unhealthy obesity.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 6, 2011
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Some readers, new to the issues surrounding Evolution perhaps, may wonder if there is a need for an overhaul of Evolutionary Theory. In short, the answer is yes. For example, early in 2010, Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, published a book entitled, What Darwin Got Wrong. There view was roughly that, "We thought we'd best make clear from the outset, because our main contention in what follows will be that there is something wrong - quite possibly fatally wrong - with the theory of natural selection; and we are aware that, even among those who are not quite sure what it is, allegiance to Darwinism has become a litmus for deciding who does, and who does not, hold a `properly scientific' world view." Indeed, if one were to believe what Fodor/Piatelli-Palmarini argue, Darwinism would seem to be "dead in the water."

Thankfully, we can all breathe easy with the release of, Evolution - The Extended Synthesis; "Under the heading "Extended Synthesis" this volume represents a broad survey of key ideas in this multifaceted research program, and a first look at an expanded theory of evolution as a work-in-progress. We have gathered some of the most prominent authors who have been writing about new directions in evolutionary biology and asked them to explain where they think the field is headed, and how the new concepts square with the Modern Synthesis's view of what evolution is." To be sure, this is actually a very exciting time to be reading about the field of Evolutionary Theory because, "The overcoming of gradualism, externalism, and gene centrism [a la Richard Dawkins'
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen D Herbert on March 11, 2013
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This is an important addition and update from Julian Huxley's Evolution: The Modern Synthesis. It is a scholarly text not a reading book. I am struck that this book, which sets itself beside Huxley's masterpiece has little of the breadth and vision displayed by Huxley. Huxley's book is by a very wide margin better written and its topics and issues better thought through, by a scientist who clearly had a complete grip of his subject. The subject matter has advanced very considerably indeed since Huxley's 1942 tome (and even since the 1974 updates) and Evolution - the Extended Synthesis is a solid and essential addition in my opinion (though not in the opinion of all experts in this field).

The problem the extended synthesis has is in being written by numerous authors it suffers from not having the single expansive viewpoint of that giant of evolutionary thinking, Huxley. The other problem for me is that it does not do much to fill in the massive gaps that are overdue to be eloquently and thoroughly filled from the considerable scientific advances; it seems to jump into today's world. A big big jump from 1942. Maybe no one writes the kind of science that Huxley wrote. But with the controversy that ignorance of evolution (and biology in general) creates in today's body politic - probably about the same as in Darwin's world - I'd love to see the editors attempt a more thoroughly conceived treatise.
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By Jeanne McSloy on October 26, 2013
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Presents some of the more recent developments in the elucidation of the extended synthesis covering a fair range of topics and perspectives. Not exactly light reading, but well worth the time.
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