By Tim Lewens
Routledge – 2006 – 306 pages
Series: The Routledge Philosophers
In this invaluable book, Tim Lewens shows in a clear and accessible manner how important Darwin is for philosophy and how his work has shaped and challenged the very nature of the subject.
Beginning with an overview of Darwin’s life and work, the subsequent chapters discuss the full range of fundamental philosophical topics from a Darwinian perspective. These include natural selection; the origin and nature of species; the role of evidence in scientific enquiry; the theory of Intelligent Design; evolutionary approaches to the human mind; the implications of Darwin’s work for ethics and epistemology; and the question of how social and political thought needs to be updated in the light of a Darwinian understanding of human nature. A concluding chapter assesses the philosophical legacy of Darwin’s thought.
Darwin is essential reading for anyone in the humanities, social sciences and sciences seeking a philosophical introduction to Darwin, or anyone simply seeking a philosophical companion to Darwin’s own writings.
'…succeeds admirably in presenting Darwin and his ideas to its intended audience. ' Michael T. Ghiselin, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
'…a judiciously balanced book that offers a fine introduction to Darwin and contemporary philosophy of biology.' The Philosophers' Magazine
'a clear, well-written, fair, broad-ranging and student-friendly introduction to Darwinian thinking' - Kim Sterelny, Victoria University of Wellington and Australian National University
'Charles Darwin has been enlisted to support many different, and often contradictory, intellectual and political agendas. This is a clear and careful philosophical examination of which of these causes Darwin is willing and able to support. An excellent introduction to Darwin's intellectual orientation and the implications of his thought.' - Paul Griffiths, University of Queensland, Australia
'This book is a true gem. Although modestly billed as a “philosophical introduction” to Darwin’s thought, it’s actually far more. With engaging style, Lewens deftly interweaves intellectual history and state-of-the-art evolutionary theory to illuminate current debates over “intelligent design,” evolutionary psychology, evolutionary epistemology, ethics, sex differences, and the nature of science itself. Lively, timely, insightful, and informative, it’s a terrific read.' - David Buller, Northern Illinois University, USA
‘Charles Darwin remains as influential as ever. He is a hate figure of the religious right which only adds to his lustre in the eyes of everybody else. Tim Lewens brilliantly explores the extraordinary role that Darwin has played not only in science and philosophy but also right across the full range of human affairs. Lewens' book contradicts the belief that nothing more that is fresh and interesting could be added to all the existing writings about Darwin.’ - Sir Patrick Bateson, University of Cambridge, UK
Introduction: ‘A Philosophical Naturalist’ 1. Life 2. Selection 3. Species 4. Evidence 5. Mind 6. Ethics 7. Knowledge 8. Politics 9. Philosophy. Glossary. References
Tim Lewens is Lecturer in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge University.