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The central insight of Darwin's Origin of Species is that evolution is an ecological phenomenon, arising from the activities of organisms in the 'struggle for life'. By contrast, the Modern Synthesis theory of evolution, which rose to prominence in the twentieth century, presents evolution as a fundamentally molecular phenomenon, occurring in populations of sub-organismal entities - genes. After nearly a century of success, the Modern Synthesis theory is now being challenged by empirical advances in the study of organismal development and inheritance. In this important study, D. M. Walsh shows that the principal defect of the Modern Synthesis resides in its rejection of Darwin's organismal perspective, and argues for 'situated Darwinism': an alternative, organism-centred conception of evolution that prioritises organisms as adaptive agents. His book will be of interest to scholars and advanced students of evolutionary biology and the philosophy of biology.Read more
- Proposes a new understanding of the process of evolution
- Offers a balanced philosophical analysis of current debates within evolutionary biology
- Compares and contrasts two central theories of evolution and holds each up to empirical scrutiny
Reviews & endorsements
'Walsh provides a concise and well-informed account of [20th-century] modern evolutionary thinking and its shortcomings, as well as argue[s] for a more ecologically-focused theory. Organisms, Agency, and Evolution is a salient addition to the fundamental understanding of evolutionary biology. This book is highly recommended to undergraduate and graduate students of evolutionary biology. It may also serve as a reference guide for advanced researchers and educators.' Termara Parker, Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine
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- Date Published: March 2018
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107552425
- length: 293 pages
- dimensions: 230 x 153 x 16 mm
- weight: 0.44kg
- contains: 3 b/w illus. 4 tables
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Introducing organisms: between unificationism and exceptionalism
Part I. The Eclipse of The Organism:
1. Mechanism, reduction and emergence: of molecules and method
2. Ensemble thinking: struggle and abstraction
3. The fractionation of evolution: struggling or replicating?
Part II. Beyond Replicator Biology:
4. Inheritance: transmission or resemblance?
5. Units of phenotypic control: parity or privilege?
6. Fit and diversity: from competition to complementarity
7. Integrating development: three grades of ontogenetic commitment
Part III. Situated Darwinism:
8. Adaptation: environments and affordances
9. Natural purposes: mechanism and teleology
10. Object and agent: enacting evolution
11. Two neo-Darwinisms: fractionated or situated?
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