Philosophy of Science

The Major Transitions in Evolution Revisited

edited by Brett Calcott and Kim Sterelny

Cambridge (MA): MIT Press, 2011. 319 pages.

“In 1995, with the publication of their book The Major Transitions in Evolution … , John Maynard Smith and Eörs Szathmáry introduced a new way of thinking about the ‘big picture’ of the history of life on Earth,” explains reviewer Derek Turner, a way that the papers in Calcott and Sterelny’s collection explore, extend, and critique. Warning that the book is not for the beginner, Turner adds, “The contributors include a mix of scientists and philosophers of biology.

The Philosophy of Human Evolution

by Michael Ruse

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. 282 pages.

The Philosophy of Human Evolution is a historical and critical survey of the ways in which Darwinian thinking has clashed and interacted with the concerns of philosophers,” reviewer Matt Cartmill explains. “Intended for a general audience, the book showcases Ruse’s manifold skills as a writer. His prose is lucid, straightforward, and colloquial. Each paragraph leads into the next with elegant coherence and no complicated impediments to the smooth flow of ideas.

The Cambridge Companion to Darwin, second edition

edited by M. J. S. Hodge and Gregory Radick
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. 548 pages.

Reviewer John S. Wilkins writes, “As the sesquicentenary of Darwin’s Origin of Species in 2009 showed, there is an enormous amount of material one might have to become familiar with if one wants to have an informed view of Darwin, and so a standard reference book is required. This is that book — the second edition of the volume, updated somewhat and with new essays.

Defining Darwin

by Michael Ruse
Amherst (NY): Prometheus Books, 2009. 271 pages.

According to reviewer Brian Regal, “Defining Darwin is another in a long line of works geared towards general audiences to help them understand the various complex issues involved in evolutionary studies and history.

Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards?

by Elliott Sober
Amherst (NY): Prometheus Books, 2011. 225 pages.

Elliott Sober’s Did Darwin Write the Origin>cite> Backwards? contains five chapters, reviewer Doren Recker explains: “on: (1) the

Transformations of Lamarckism

edited by Snait B. Gissis and Eva Jablonka
Cambridge (MA): MIT Press, 2011. 432 pages.

“The central message of the volume is that a Lamarckian perspective should be taken into account in biology in order to produce a new evolutionary synthesis that would describe and explain the biological world better than the classical theory of evolution,” writes reviewer Francesca Merlin.

Evolutionary Theory: Five Questions

edited by Gry Oftedal, Jan Kyrre Berg O Friis, Peter Rossel, and Michael Slott Norup
Copenhagen, Denmark: Automatic Press, 2009. 245 pages.

“The book asks the same five questions of well-known people doing work in (or directly connected to) evolutionary theory, and the reader is then privy to the part-informative, part-explanatory, part-argumentative, and even part-sentimental reflections of these people,” reviewer Robert Arp explains.

Evolution: The Extended Synthesis

by Massimo Pigliucci and Gerd Müller
Cambridge [MA]: MIT Press, 2010. 504 pages.

According to reviewer Anya Plutynski, “This engaging volume surveys novel empirical and theoretical advances in biology since the Modern Synthesis, some of which add to, and some challenge, its central tenets.” The project is to extend the synthesis to include patterns and processes often considered to be at the margins of the theory, such as epigenetic inheritance, niche inheritance, facilitated variations, plasticity, and evolvability; the review focuses on the last two of these. Plutyns

Time Matters

by Michael Leddra
Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. 269 pages.

Time Matters describes the development of, and the controversies surrounding, the concept of geologic time, with a focus on events in Britain.