“For most philosophers, reductionism is wrong because it denies the fact of multiple realizability. For most biologists, reductionism is wrong because it involves a commitment to genetic determinism. In this stimulating new book, Rosenberg reconfigures the problem. His Darwinian reductionism denies genetic determinism and it has no problem with multiple realizability. It captures what scientific materialism should have been after all along.”
(Elliot Sober, University of Wisconsin)
“Over the last twenty years and more, philosophers and theoretical biologists have built an antireductionist consensus about biology. We have thought that biology is autonomous without being spooky. While biological systems are built from chemical ones, biological facts are not just physical facts, and biological explanations cannot be replaced by physical and chemical ones. The most consistent, articulate, informed, and lucid skeptic about this view has been Alex Rosenberg, and Darwinian Reductionism is the mature synthesis of his alternative vision. He argues that we can show the paradigm facts of biology—evolution and development—are built from the chemical and physical, and reduce to them. Moreover, he argues, unpleasantly plausibly, that defenders of the consensus must slip one way or the other: into spookiness about the biological, or into a reduction program for the biological. People like me have no middle way. Bugger.”
(Kim Sterelny, author of Sex and Death)
“Alex Rosenberg has been thinking about reductionism in biology for a quarter of a century. His latest discussion is many-sided, informed, and informative—and extremely challenging.”
(Philip Kitcher, Columbia University)
"Rosenberg provides an accessible review of current ideas on the 'wiring' of . . . gene complexes and why they help account for morphological evolution. He is one of the first philosophers to conside the implications of 'evo-devo' . . . and seizes the opportunity to promote a reductionist interpretation that was simply not possible with population genetics."
(Bruce H. Weber Nature
"Rosenberg's book tackles very difficult issues in the philosophy of biology in subtle and innovative ways."
(Edward M. Engelmann Review of Metaphysics
About the Author
Alex Rosenberg is the R. Taylor Cole Professor of Philosophy and Biology at Duke University and the author of many books, including Economics—Mathematical Politics or Science of Diminishing Returns? and Instrumental Biology, or The Disunity of Science, both published by the University of Chicago Press.