Chance in Evolution

Chance in Evolution

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Description

Humans, however much we would care to think otherwise, do not represent the fated pinnacle of ape evolution. The diversity of life, from single-celled organisms to multicellular animals and plants, is the result of a long, complex, and highly chancy history. But how profoundly has chance shaped life on earth? And what, precisely, do we mean by chance? Bringing together biologists, philosophers of science, and historians of science, Chance in Evolution is the first book to untangle the far-reaching effects of chance, contingency, and randomness on the evolution of life. The book begins by placing chance in historical context, starting with the ancients and moving through Darwin and his contemporaries, documenting how the understanding of chance changed as Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection developed into the Modern Synthesis, and how the acceptance of chance in Darwinian theory affected theological resistance to it. Subsequent chapters detail the role of chance in contemporary evolutionary theory in particular, in connection with the concepts of genetic drift, mutation, and parallel evolution as well as recent empirical work in the experimental evolution of microbes and in paleobiology. By engaging in collaboration across biology, history, philosophy, and theology, this book offers a comprehensive and synthetic overview both of the history of chance in evolution and of our current, best understanding of the impact of chance on life on earth.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 20mm | 499g
  • The University of Chicago Press
  • University of Chicago Press
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • English
  • 022640188X
  • 9780226401881
  • 679,983

Review quote

A volume like this is overdue and could potentially have an important impact. The range of topics Chance in Evolution addresses is a big part of what makes it interesting and valuable. From quite good historical chapters to a section on chance in the history of life, which fills a fairly serious gap in the contemporary literature, this book will be well suited to student and professional biologists, and historians and philosophers of biology. --Jonathan Michael Kaplan, Oregon State University, coauthor of "Making Sense of Evolution"show more

About Grant Ramsey

Grant Ramsey is a BOFZAP Research Professor in the Institute of Philosophy at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. Charles H. Pence is assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Louisiana State University.show more