Agnes Arber's international reputation is due in part to her exceptional ability to interpret the German tradition of scholarship for the English-speaking world. The Mind and the Eye is an erudite book, revealing its author's familiarity with philosophy from Plato and Aristotle through Aquinas to Kant and Hegel; but it is not dull, because the quiet enthusiasm of the author shines through. In this book she turns from the work of a specialist in one science to those wider questions which (...) any scientist must ask at intervals. What, in short, is the relationship between the eye that sees and the mind that weighs and pronounces? An important feature of this Cambridge Science Classics reissue is the introduction provided by Professor P. R. Bell, who as a Cambridge botany student at the time that Agnes Arber was writing The Natural Philosopby of Plant Form, is uniquely able to set The Mind and the Eye in the context of contemporary biological research. (shrink)
"At places distant from where you are, but also uncomfortably close," writes David Takacs, "a holocaust is under way. People are slashing, hacking, bulldozing, burning, poisoning, and otherwise destroying huge swaths of life on Earth at a furious pace." And a cadre of ecologists and conservation biologists has responded, vigorously promoting a new definition of nature: biodiversity--advocating it in Congress and on the Tonight Show; whispering it into the ears of foreign leaders redefining the boundaries of science and politics, ethics (...) and religion, nature and our ideas of nature. These scientists have infused the environmental movement with new focus and direction, but by engaging in such activities, they jeopardize the societal trust that allows them to be public spokespersons for nature in the first place. The Idea of Biodiversity analyzes what biodiversity represents to the biologists who operate in broader society on its behalf, drawing on in-depth interviews with the scientists most active today in the mission to preserve biodiversity, including Peter Raven, Thomas Lovejoy, Jane Lubchenco, and Paul Ehrlich. Takacs explores how and why these biologists shaped the concept of biodiversity and promoted it to society at large--examining their definitions of biodiversity their opinions about spirituality and its role in scientific work the notion of biodiversity as something of intrinsic value and their views on biophilia, E. O. Wilson's idea that humans are genetically predisposed to love nature. Takacs also looks at the work of twentieth-century forerunners of today's conservation biologists--Aldo Leopold, Charles S. Elton, Rachel Carson, David Ehrenfeld--and points out their contributions to the current debates. He takes readers to Costa Rica, where a group of scientists is using biodiversity to remake nature and society. And in an extended section, he profiles the thoughts and work of E. O. Wilson. "When I'm asked, 'should we save this species orthat species, or this place or that place?' the answer is always 'Yes!' with an exclamation point. Because it's obvious . And if you ask me to justify it, then I switch into a more cognitive consciousness and can start giving you reasons, economic reasons, aesthetic reasons. They're all dualistic, in a sense. But the feeling that underlies it is that 'yes!' And that 'yes!' comes out of the affirmation of being part of it all, being part of this whole evolutionary process. And agreeing with Arne Naess that each species, each entity, should be allowed to continue its evolution and to live out its destiny... just do its thing, as we say. Why not? And the 'why not?' is there's too many people."--Michael E. Soule, from an interview in The Idea of Biodiversity "An important contribution, a first distanced examination of a critical, modern topic by a scholarly, honest broker."--E. O. Wilson, Harvard University. (shrink)
At least since Darwin's Origin of Species was published in 1859, it has increasingly become accepted that the existence of God is, intellectually, a lost cause, and that religious faith is an entirely non-rational matter--the province of those who willingly refuse to accept the dramatic advances of modern cosmology. Are belief in God and belief in science really mutually exclusive? Or, as noted philosopher of science and religion Richard Swinburne puts forth, can the very same criteria which scientists use to (...) reach theories about everything from DNA to the Big Bang be used to argue for the existence of God? In Is There a God? Swinburne presents a powerful and approachable case for the existence of God. Using the methods of scientific reasoning, Swinburne rigorously argues that science, far from replacing God, provides good grounds for belief in God. With each new discovery and advance, from black holes to quarks, superstrings to continuing evolution, science brings us closer to a complete understanding of how things work--but science can only go so far. Though it can explain much of how the universe works, science doesn't tell us why there is a universe at all. We can understand much of how life evolved, but why is there any life on earth? We can name and explicate scientific laws, but how is it that they operate in the universe? The Darwinian theory holds that the complex animal and human bodies that are here today exist because, ages ago, there were certain chemicals on earth, and given the laws of evolution, it was probable that complex organisms would emerge. But why those laws rather than any other? Why those chemicals? In Swinburne's view, the ultimate grand unifying theory is possible only by a belief in what he calls theism, acknowledging the existence of God: it was God who brought about the natural laws so that humans and animals would evolve. The watch may have been made, Swinburne asserts in reference to Richard Dawkins, with the aid of some blind screwdrivers (or even a blind watchmaking machine), but they were guided by a watchmaker with some very clear sight. At the heart of his argument is Swinburne's belief that the very success of science in showing us how deeply ordered the natural world is provides strong grounds for believing there is an even deeper cause of that order. By embracing a belief in God that acknowledges the truth in science, Swinburne's elegant argument supplies an essential spiritual element to our understanding of order and beauty, the structure beneath the chaos of the natural world. This informed and provocative volume will be essential reading for all readers of popular science, philosophy, and religion. (shrink)
The formal systems of logic have ordinarily been regarded as independent of biology, but recent developments in evolutionary theory suggest that biology and logic may be intimately interrelated. In this book, Cooper outlines a theory of rationality in which logical law emerges as an intrinsic aspect of evolutionary biology. This biological perspective on logic, though at present unorthodox, could change traditional ideas about the reasoning process. Cooper examines the connections between logic and evolutionary biology and illustrates how logical rules are (...) derived directly from evolutionary principles, and therefore have no independent status of their own. Laws of decision theory, utility theory, induction, and deduction are reinterpreted as natural consequences of evolutionary processes. Cooper's connection of logical law to evolutionary theory results in a unified foundation for an evolutionary science of reason. (shrink)
Ecopolitics is a study of environmental awareness--or non-awareness--in contemporary French theory. Arguing that it is now impossible not to think in an ecological way, Verena Andermatt Conley traces the roots of today's concern for the environment back to the intellectual climate of the late '50s and '60s. Major thinkers of 1968, the author argues, changed the way we think the world; this owes much to an ecological awareness that remains at the heart of issues concerning cultural theory in general. The (...) book points to critiques of ecology in the work of Luc Ferry and Jean Baudrillard before turning to more complicated ecological awareness primarily in French thought. The author considers key texts by influential figures such as Michael Serres, Paul Virilio, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Michel de Certeau, Helene Cixous and Luce Irigaray. (shrink)
This book looks anew at the question of nature preservation as public policy. The philosophy of nature preservation has to date focused on whether arguments for nature preservation should be centred on the value of nature itself or derived human benefits . This book argues that this way of thinking about the problem of preservation has been counter-productive for environmental ethics. Instead we need to unite both views around a concern for the irreplaceability of natural objects.
Perhaps because of it implications for our understanding of human nature, recent philosophy of biology has seen what might be the most dramatic work in the philosophies of the ”special” sciences. This drama has centered on evolutionary theory, and in the second edition of this textbook, Elliott Sober introduces the reader to the most important issues of these developments. With a rare combination of technical sophistication and clarity of expression, Sober engages both the higher level of theory and the direct (...) implications for such controversial issues as creationism, teleology, nature versus nurture, and sociobiology. Above all, the reader will gain from this book a firm grasp of the structure of evolutionary theory, the evidence for it, and the scope of its explanatory significance. (shrink)
How have sociologists responded to the emergence of environmentalism? What has sociology to offer the study of environmental problems? This uniquely comprehensive guide traces the origins and development of environmental movements and environmental issues, providing a critical review of the most significant debates in the new field of environmental sociology. It covers environmental ideas, environmental movements, social constructionism, critical realism, "ecocentric" theory, environmental identities, risk society theory, sustainable development, Green consumerism, ecological modernization and debates around modernity and post- modernity. Philip (...) Sutton adopts a long-term view, which focuses on the relationship between ideas of nature and environment, ecological identities and social change, providing a framework for future research. Bringing environmental issues into contact with sociological theories, Nature, Environment and Society provides an up-to-date introduction to this important new field. It will be essential reading for all students of sociology, environmental studies and anyone interested in understanding environmental problems. (shrink)
This volume analyzes authoritarian, reformist, Marxist and anarchist approaches to the environmental problem, exposing the relationships between environmental crises, economic structures and the role of the state.
Profiles three British voyagers who became fierce defenders of Darwin's theory of evolution, tracing the lives and scientific discoveries of Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley, and Alfred Wallace during respective voyages to the southern ...
"It's all in the genes." Is this true, and if so, what is all in the genes? Genes: A Philosophical Inquiry is a crystal clear and highly informative guide to a debate none of us can afford to ignore. Beginning with a much-needed overview of the relationship between science and technology, Gordon Graham lucidly explains and assesses the most important and controversial aspects of the genes debate: Darwinian theory and its critics, the idea of the "selfish" gene, evolutionary psychology, (...) memes, genetic screening and modification, including the risks of cloning and "designer" babies. The author considers areas often left out of the genes debate, such as the environmental risks of genetic engineering and how we should think about genes in the wider context of debates on science, knowledge and religion. Gordon Graham asks whether genetic engineering might be introducing God back into the debate and whether the risks of a brave new genetic world outweigh the potential benefits. Essential reading for anyone interested in science, technology, and philosophy, Genes: A Philosophical Inquiry is ideal for those wanting to find out more about the ethical implications of genetics and the future of biotechnology. (shrink)
Drawing on the disciplines of Islamic and Christian Ethics, International Affairs, Environmental Science, History and Anthropology, Sustainable Diplomacy: Ecology, Religion and Ethics in Muslim-Christian Relations is a highly constructive work. Set in the context of modern Moroccan-Spanish relations, this text is a direct critique of realism as it is practiced in modern diplomacy. Proposing a new eco-centric approach to relations between nation-states and bioregions, Wellman presents the case for Ecological Realism, an undergirding philosophy for conducting a diplomacy that values the (...) role of popular religions, ecological histories, and the consumption and waste patterns of national populations. Sustainable Diplomacy is thus a means of building relations not only between elites but also between people on the ground, as they together face the real possibility of global ecological destruction. (shrink)
The central thesis of this book is that the semantic conception is a logical methodologically and heuristically richer and more accurate account of scientific theorizing, and in particular of theorizing in evolutionary biology, than the ...
Ecologists use a remarkable range of methods and techniques to understand complex, inherently variable, and functionally diverse entities and processes across a staggering range of spatial, temporal and interactive scales. These multiple perspectives make ecology very different to the exemplar of science often presented by philosophers. In Philosophical Foundations for the Practices of Ecology, designed for graduate students and researchers, ecology is put into a new philosophical framework that engages with this inherent pluralism while still placing constraints on the ways (...) that we can investigate and understand nature. The authors begin by exploring the sources of variety in the practice of ecology and how these have led to the current conceptual confusion. They argue that the solution is to adopt the approach of constrained perspectivism and go on to explore the ontological, metaphysical, and epistemological aspects of this position and how it can be used in ecological research and teaching. (shrink)
The most significant legacy of philosophical skepticism is the realization that our concepts, beliefs and theories are social constructs. This belief has led to epistemological relativism, or the thesis that since there is no ultimate truth about the world, theory preferences are only a matter of opinion. In this book, William Harms seeks to develop the conceptual foundations and tools for a science of knowledge through the application of evolutionary theory, thus allowing us to acknowledge the legacy of skepticism while (...) denying its relativistic offspring. This book will appeal to students and professionals in epistemology and the philosophy of science. (shrink)
Introduction : environment, society, and the economy -- Environmental, social, and economic collapse -- Evolution of the domination paradigm -- Ecological and social justice movements -- Ethical path to sustainability and well-being.
This important collection focuses on the nature and importance of biodiversity. The concept is clarified and its intrinsic and instrumental value are discussed. Even though the term biodiversity was invented in the 1980s to promote the cause of species conservation, discussions on biological diversity go back to Plato. There are many controversies surrounding biodiversity and a few of them are examined here: What is worthy of protection or restoration and what is the acceptable level of costs? Is it permissible to (...) kill sentient animals to promote native populations? Can species be reintroduced if they have disappeared a long time ago? How should the responsibilities for biodiversity be shared? This book will be of interest to philosophers of science and biologists, but also to anyone interested in conservation and the environment. (shrink)
Reductionism--understanding complex processes by breaking them into simpler elements--dominates scientific thinking around the world and has certainly proved a powerful tool, leading to major discoveries in every field of science. But reductionism can be taken too far, especially in the life sciences, where sociobiological thinking has bordered on biological determinism. Thus popular science writers such as Richard Dawkins, author of the highly influential The Selfish Gene, can write that human beings are just "robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish (...) molecules known as genes." Indeed, for many in science, genes have become the fundamental unit for understanding human existence: genes determine every aspect of our lives, from personal success to existential despair: genes for health and illness, genes for criminality, violence, and sexual orientation. Others would say that this is reductionism with a vengeance. In Lifelines, biologist Steven Rose offers a powerful alternative to the ultradarwinist claims of Dawkins, E.O. Wilson, Daniel Dennett and others. Rose argues against an extreme reductionist approach that would make the gene the key to understanding human nature, in favor of a more complex and richer vision of life. He urges instead that we focus on the organism and in particular on the organism's lifeline: the trajectory it takes through time and space. Our personal lifeline, Rose points out, is unique--even identical twins, with identical genes at birth, will differ over time. These differences are obviously not embedded in our genes, but come about through our developmental trajectory in which genes, as part of the biochemical orchestra of trillions of cells in each human body, have an important part--but only a part--to play. To illustrate this idea, Rose examines recent research in modern biology, and especially two disciplines--genetics (which looks at the impact of genes on form) and developmental biology (which examines the interaction between the organism and the environment)--and he explores new ideas on biological complexity proposed by scientists such as Stuart Kauffman. He shows how our lifelines are constructed through the interplay of physical forces--such as the intrinsic chemistry of lipids and proteins, and the self-organizing and stabilizing properties of complex metabolic webs--and he reaches a startling conclusion: that organisms are active players in their own fate, not simply the playthings of the gods, nature, or the inevitable workings out of gene-driven natural selection. The organism is both the weaver and the pattern it weaves. Lifelines will be a rallying point for all who seek an alternative to the currently fashionable, deeply determinist accounts which dominate popular science writing and, in fact, crowd the pages of some of the major scientific journals. Based on solid, state-of-the-art research, it not only makes important contributions to our understanding of Darwin and natural selection, but will swing the pendulum back to a richer, more complex view of human nature and of life. (shrink)
In this study, Clare Palmer challenges the belief that the process thinking of writers like A.N. Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne has offered an unambiguously positive contribution to environmental ethics. She compares process ethics to a variety of other forms of environmental ethics, as well as deep ecology, and reveals a number of difficulties associated with process thinking about the environment.
Drawing on his investigation of over one hundred mid-Victorian British newspapers and periodicals, Alvar Ellegård describes and analyzes the impact of Darwin's theory of evolution during the first dozen years after the publication of the Origin of Species . Although Darwin's book caused an immediate stir in literary and scientific periodicals, the popular press largely ignored it. Only after the work's implications for theology and the nature of man became evident did general publications feel compelled to react; each social group (...) responded according to his own political and religious prejudices. Ellegård charts the impact of this revolution in science, maintaining that although the idea of evolution was generally accepted, Darwin's primary contribution, the theory of natural selection, was either ignored or rejected among the public. (shrink)
An award-wining biologist takes us on the dramatic expeditions that unearthed the history of life on our planet. Just 150 years ago,most of our world was an unexplored wilderness.Our sense of how old it was? Vague and vastly off the mark. And our sense of our own species’ history? A set of fantastic myths and fairy tales. Fossils had been known for millennia, but they were seen as the bones of dragons and other imagined creatures. In the tradition of The (...) Microbe Hunters and Gods, Graves, and Scholars, Sean Carroll’s Remarkable Creatures celebrates the pioneers who replaced our fancies with the even more amazing true story of how our world evolved. Carroll recounts the most important discoveries in two centuries of national history — from Darwin’s trip around the world to CharlesWalcott’s discovery of pre-Cambrian life in the Grand Canyon; from Louis and Mary Leakey’s investigation of our deepest past in East Africa to the trailblazers in modern laboratories who have located a time clock in our DNA. Join him in a rousing voyage of discovery, from the epic journeys of pioneering naturalists to the breakthroughs making headlines today. (shrink)
The Discovery of Evolution explains what the theory of evolution is all about by providing a historical narrative of discovery. Some of the major puzzles that confront anyone studying living things are discussed and it details how these were solved from an evolutionary perspective. Beginning with the emergence of the early naturalists in the seventeenth century, the scientific discoveries that led up to and then flowed from Darwin and Wallace's theory of evolution by natural selection are then discussed, and finally (...) the modern evolutionary studies at the close of the twentieth century are detailed. This new edition of The Discovery of Evolution is fully updated and contains a new chapter on the evolutionary studies of the twentieth century. By approaching the topic of evolution in this way, it is made accessible to the non-specialist and no previous study of biology is required in order to read and understand this book. (shrink)