Short works

Books : reviews

Kim Sterelny, Paul E. Griffiths.
Sex and Death: an introduction to the philosophy of biology.
University of Chicago Press. 1999

Kim Sterelny.
The Evolution of Agency and Other Essays.
CUP. 2001

This book presents a collection of linked essays 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. The volume should be of particular interest to graduate students and professionals of biology, cognitive science, and the philosophy of biology.

Kim Sterelny.
Dawkins vs. Gould: survival of the fittest: new edn.
Icon Books. 2007

An international bestseller when originally published, this brand-new and completely revised edition updates the story of one at science’s most vigorous arguments.

Science has seen its fair share of punch-ups over the years, but one debate, in the field of biology, has become notorious for its intensity.

Over the last twenty years, Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould and their supporters have been engaged in a savage battle over evolution, which continues to rage even after Gould’s death in 2002.

Kim Sterelny moves beyond caricature to expose the real differences between the conceptions of evolution of these two leading scientists. He shows that the conflict extends beyond evolution to their very beliefs in science itself; and, in Gould’s case, to domains in which science plays no role at all.

Expanded and updated to consider Stephen Jay Gould’s magnum opus, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, and Dawkins’ most recent science books.