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In Mendel's Mirror: Philosophical Reflections on Biology [Paperback]

Philip Kitcher

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Book Description

Feb. 18 2003
Philip Kitcher is one of the leading figures in the philosophy of science today. Here he collects, for the first time, many of his published articles on the philosophy of biology, spanning from the mid-1980's to the present. The book's title refers to Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian monk who was one of the first scientists to develop a theory of heredity. Mendel's work has been deeply influential to our understanding of our selves and our world, just as the study of genetics today will have a profound and long-term impact on future scientific research. Kitcher's articles cover a broad range of topics with similar philosophical and social significance: sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, species, race, altruism, genetic determinism, and the rebirth of creationism in Intelligent Design. Kitcher's work on the intersection of biology and the philosophy of science is both unprecedented and wide-ranging, and will appeal not only to philosophers of science, but to scholars and students across disciplines.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 410 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (Feb. 18 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195151798
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195151794
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 15.6 x 23.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 599 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,053,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"What is most striking about the book is its uniformly high quality; although the volume runs to nearly four hundred pages, there are no space fillers here - each essay is substantive, penetrating, and authoritative. . . . In Mendel's Mirror performs the valuable service of collecting together some of the finest essays in philosophy of biology written in the past two decades, and gives a fascinating insight into Kitcher's intellectual development over that period."--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"What is most striking about the book is its uniformly high quality; although the volume runs to nearly four hundred pages, there are no space fillers here - each essay is substantive, penetrating, and authoritative.... In Mendel's Mirror performs the valuable service of collecting together some of the finest essays in philosophy of biology written in the past two decades, and gives a fascinating insight into Kitcher's intellectual development over that period."--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Reading these papers together in one volume drives home just how impressive Kitcher's contribution to our field is. This volume will undoubtedly stimulate debate and provide fuel for new research programs in philosophy of biology."--Stephen M. Downes, Biology and Philosophy

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4 color illus & 38 line illus

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Toward the end of their paper announcing the molecular structure of DNA, James Watson and Francis Crick remark, somewhat laconically, that their proposed structure might illuminate some central questions of genetics Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Flawed Kindle Edition March 11 2010
By M. North - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I want to warn others away from the Kindle edition of this very valuable book. The Kindle edition is poorly scanned and frequently inaccurate and/or unreadable. The text won't scale properly, and it's blobby and ugly at the default size. Worse yet, there are numerous typos. At one point Hydra comes out as something like I- lydi a. Many of the footnote numbers can't be read and some are in the wrong places. It would be nice if the index and footnotes were linked so that they could be used, but so few Kindle texts do this it's probably not worth mentioning. OUP should be ashamed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Rate! April 21 2008
By rdf - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The method behind most of these essays is: pose a question, posit a set of answers that covers the space of possible answers, examine how the shape of (biological/evolutionary) outcomes can discriminate between them, then look at the data to see what fits.

The essays are succinct, clear and often use either approximate equations or the results of simulation runs to assist the analysis -- very little "armchair" stuff here.

The only essay that I found a bit gratuitous was the one on "Born Again Creationism" which was (thankfully) much more salient in 2003 than it is today.

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