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Not by Design

Retiring Darwin’s Watchmaker

John Reiss (Author)


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More than two centuries ago, William Paley introduced his famous metaphor of the universe as a watch made by the Creator. For Paley, the exquisite structure of the universe necessitated a designer. Today, some 150 years since Darwin's On the Origin of Species was published, the argument of design is seeing a revival. This provocative work tells how Darwin left the door open for this revival--and at the same time argues for a new conceptual framework that avoids the problematic teleology inherent in Darwin's formulation of natural selection. In a wide-ranging discussion of the historical and philosophical dimensions of evolutionary theory from the ancient Greeks to today, John Reiss argues that we should look to the principle of the conditions for existence, first formulated before On the Origin of Species by the French paleontologist Georges Cuvier, to clarify the relation of adaptation to evolution. Reiss suggests that Cuvier's principle can help resolve persistent issues in evolutionary biology, including the proper definition of natural selection, the distinction between natural selection and genetic drift, and the meaning of genetic load. Moreover, he shows how this principle can help unite diverse areas of biology, ranging from quantitative genetics and the theory of the levels of selection to evo-devo, ecology, physiology, and conservation biology.
Preface: Beyond the Design Metaphor

1. The Problem
Teleology and Natural Selection
A Role for History
Overview of the Book (and How to Read It)

2. Philosophical Background
Teleological Explanation: Intentional, Representational, and Conditional
Teleology and Necessity
A Taxonomy of Teleology
The Principle of the Conditions for Existence
The Conditions for Existence and the Weak Anthropic Principle
Natural Selection and the Argument from Design
The Conditions for Existence and Evolutionary Explanation
The Function Debate

3. Design versus the Epicurean Hypothesis:
Two Thousand Years of Debate
The Teleologists: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle
Empedocles and the Atomists
The End of the Classical Era and the Rise of Christianity
The Scientific Revolution and the Revolt against Teleology
Rational Theology and the Argument of Design: The Later Seventeenth Century
The Deists, the Platonists, and the Rebirth of Natural Theology
The Mechanical Philosophy and the Argument of Design:
Boyle, Ray, and Newton
4. Materialism, Teleology, and Evolution in the Enlightenment
The Origins of the Enlightenment: Bayle
The Philosophes, Materialism, and Lucretius (1744–1750)
Buffon, Maupertuis, and the Birth of Evolutionary Theory (1749–1755)
The Later Enlightenment: d’Holbach and Hume
Kant and the German Enlightenment
The Critical Philosophy
5. Cuvier and the Principle of the Conditions for Existence
Biographical Background
Cuvier’s Project in the Context of Enlightenment Science
The Enunciation of the Principle and Its Place in Cuvier’s System
The Philosophical Origins and Significance of the Principle
The Influence of the Principle in France and Germany
6. Darwin, Natural Theology, and the Principle of Natural Selection
Adaptedness and Existence in British Natural Theology
The Conditions for Existence Meet Natural Theology
Geology and the Explanation of Life’s History
Darwin, Extinction, and Evolution
Darwin and the Conditions for Existence
Wallace and the Conditions for Existence
Darwin, Wallace, and Inheritance
Evolutionary Controversies before the Synthesis

7. Existence and the Mathematics of Selection:
The Adaptive Landscape versus the Fundamental Theorem
Mendelism, Selection, and the Modern Synthesis
Rates of Increase in Mendelian Populations
Fitness in Population Genetics
Ironing Out Wright’s “Surface of Selective Value”
The Genesis of Wright’s Surface
Fisher and the Fundamental Theorem
What Is Selected?
Fisher’s Geometrical Model of Adaptedness
The Reemergence of the Adaptive Landscape
8. Population Growth, Genetic Load, and the Limits of Selection
Variance in Rate of Increase: The Opportunity for Selection
(and Drift) in Natural Populations
Standardized Variance versus Population Growth: Data
Standardized Variance versus Population Growth: Mathematical Considerations
Genetic Load: The Dark Side of Natural Selection
Limits to Selection and the Standardized Variance in Rate of Increase
Genetic Load and Genetic Deaths
The Measurement of Total Selection in Existing Populations
Population Growth, Selection, and Standardized Variance
Partitioning the Variance in Rate of Increase across the Life Cycle
9. Natural Selection and Genetic Drift:
Their Role in Evolutionary Change
What’s Really Going On?
Model Populations
The Hagedoorns, Fisher, and the Origins of Genetic Drift
The “Sewall Wright Effect”
Drift and the Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution
Molecular Tests of Drift and Selection
Problems in Paradise
Drift and Mutation Pressure in Phenotypic Evolution

10. Adaptedness, Natural Selection, and the Conditions for Existence
Adaptation versus Adaptedness
Adaptedness of What?
Adaptedness, Adaptation, Function, and Natural Selection:
How Are They Related?
Empirical Studies of Evolution: Bacteria, Peppered Moths,
and Darwin’s Finches
11. How to Talk about Macroevolution
The Explanatory Role of Natural Selection: The Mechanism and the Principle
Teleology and the Terminology of Selection
Constraints: By What and on What?
The Conditions for Existence in Macroevolutionary Explanation:
The Origin of Bird Flight
12. The Conditions for Existence as a Unifying Concept
in Evolutionary Biology
Quantitative Genetics and the Conditions for Existence
Levels of Selection and the Conditions for Existence
Evo-Devo and the Conditions for Existence
The Ecological Niche and the Conditions for Existence
Physiology and the Conditions for Existence
Conservation Biology, Genetic Load, and the Conditions for Existence

Epilogue: Evolutionary Biology and Intelligent Design
John O. Reiss is Professor of Zoology at Humboldt State University.
“An important book that should be widely read and discussed.”—American Scientist
“An engaging read and is sure to stimulate much-needed discussion about the details of current evolutionary concepts.”—Anne-Marie C. Hodge Integrative & Comparative Bio (Sicb)
“Well documented.”—James D. Williams Biological Conservation
“[Not by Design] offers a rare synthesis of insights from quite diverse fields. . . . A good place to make relevant discoveries.”—Metapsychology Online Review
“[This book] offers a rare synthesis of insights from quite diverse fields. . . . a good place to make relevant discoveries.”—Christina Behme Metapsychology Online Review
"Charles Darwin described natural selection in two ways: devoid of purpose or direction and as a teleological agent sorting through heritable variation. Evolutionary biologists today repeat Darwin's divergent rhetoric. In this fine book, John Reiss helps us to rid all teleology from evolutionary biology."—William Provine, Cornell University

"Anyone who thinks they understand how natural selection works as an evolutionary process ought to read this book. You do not need to agree with Reiss to benefit from his ideas."—Günter Wagner, Yale University

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