Mapping the Future of Biology


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Carving Nature at its Joints? In order to map the future of biology we need to understand where we are and how we got there. Present day biology is the realization of the famous metaphor of the organism as a bete machine elaborated by Descartes in Part V of the Discours,a realization far beyond what anyone in the seventeenth century could have im- ined. Until the middle of the nineteenth century that machine was an articulated collection of macroscopic parts, a system of gears and levers moving gasses, solids, and liquids, and causing some parts of the machine to move in response to the force produced by others. Then, in the nineteenth century, two divergent changes occurred in the level at which the living machine came to be investigated. First, with the rise of chemistry and the particulate view of the composition of matter, the forces on macroscopic machine came to be understood as the ma- festation of molecular events, and functional biology became a study of molecular interactions. That is, the machine ceased to be a clock or a water pump and became an articulated network of chemical reactions. Until the ?rst third of the twentieth century this chemical view of life, as re?ected in the development of classical b- chemistry treated the chemistry of biological molecules in much the same way as for any organic chemical reaction, with reaction rates and side products that were the consequence of statistical properties of the concentrations of reactants.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 184 pages
  • 158 x 236 x 18mm | 439.98g
  • Springer-Verlag New York Inc.
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • biography
  • 1402096356
  • 9781402096358

Review quote

From the reviews: "This book includes an interesting collection of papers written by a group of first-rate philosophers and biologists. ... This book is a success as it contains worthy contributions. ... very valuable for the serious student of biology." (Davide Vecchi, Metapsychology Online Reviews, February, 2010) "This book attempts a challenging integration of recent theoretical concepts in the fields of ecological-evolutionary-development. ... the appeal of this book will be mostly to biological philosophers and ... systems scientists." (A. J. J. Lynch, Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 17, June, 2010)

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Back cover copy

This volume is the best available tool to compare and appraise the different approaches of today s biology and their conceptual frameworks, serving as a springboard for new research on a clarified conceptual basis. It is expected to constitute a key reference work for biologists and philosophers of biology, as well as for all scientists interested in understanding what is at stake in the present transformations of biological models and theories. The volume is distinguished by including, for the first time, self-reflections and exchanges of views on practice and theoretical attitudes by important participants in recent biological debates. The questions of how biological models and theories are constructed, how concepts are chosen and how different models can be articulated, are asked. Then the book explores some of these convergences between different models or theoretical frameworks. Confronting views on adaptive complexity are investigated, as well as the role of self-organization in evolution; niche construction meets developmental biology; the promises of the emergent field of ecological-evolutionary-development are examined. In sum, this book is a marvellous account of the dynamism of today s theoretical biology. "

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Table of contents

Foreword: Carving Nature at its Joints? Richard Lewontin Chapter 1: Introduction Anouk Barberousse, Michel Morange, Thomas Pradeu Chapter 2: Articulating Different Modes of Explanation: The Present Boundary in Biological Research Michel Morange Chapter 3: Compromising Positions: The Minding of Matter Susan Oyama Chapter 4: Abstractions, Idealizations, and Evolutionary Biology Peter Godfrey-Smith Chapter 5: The Adequacy of Model Systems for Evo-Devo: Modeling the Formation Of Organisms / Modeling the Formation Of Society Scott F. Gilbert Chapter 6: Niche Construction in Evolution, Ecosystems and Developmental Biology John Odling-Smee Chapter 7: Novelty, Plasticity and Niche Construction: The Influence of Phenotypic Variation on Evolution Kim Sterelny Chapter 8: The Evolution of Complexity Mark A. Bedau Chapter 9: Self-Organization, Self-Assembly, and the Origin of Life Evelyn Fox Keller Chapter 10: Self-Organization and Complexity in Evolutionary Theory, or, In this Life the Bread Always Falls Jammy Side Down Michael Ruse

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