The Evolution of Agency and Other Essays

The Evolution of Agency and Other Essays

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This book presents a collection of linked essays written by one of the leading philosophers of biology, Kim Sterelny, on the topic of biological evolution. The first half of the book explores most of the main theoretical controversies about evolution and selection. Sterelny argues that genes are not the only replicators: non-genetic inheritance is also extremely important, and is no mere epiphenomenon of gene selection. The second half of the book applies some of these ideas in considering cognitive evolution. Concentrating on the mental capacities of simpler animals rather than those of humans, Sterelny argues for a general distinction between detection and representation, and that the evolution of belief, like that of representation, can be decoupled from the evolution of preference. These essays, some never before published, form a coherent whole that defends not just an overall conception of evolution, but also a distinctive take on cognitive evolution.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 328 pages
  • 153 x 229 x 20mm | 442g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Worked examples or Exercises
  • 0521645379
  • 9780521645379
  • 2,316,803

Table of contents

Part I. Overview: 1. Evolution and agency: a user's guide; Part II. Replication and Interaction: 2. Return of the gene (with Philip Kitcher); 3. The gxtended replicator (with Kelly Smith and Mike Dickison); 4. The return of the group; Part III. Evolution and Macroevolution: 5. Punctuated equilibrium and macroevolution; 6. Explanatory pluralism in evolutionary biology; 7. Darwin's tangled bank; Part IV. The Descent of the Mind: 8. Where does thinking come from? A commentary on Peter Godfrey Smith's Complexity and the Function of Mind in Nature; 9. Basic minds; 10. Intentional agency and the metarepresentation hypothesis; 11. Situated agency and the descent of desire; 12. The evolution of agency.
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Review quote

'... a wonderful collection of essays. Everyone interested in the philosophy of biology and in evolutionary philosophy of mind should read these essays.' Erkenntnis
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