Ullica Segerstrale – Defenders of the Truth: The Sociobiology Debate[Shelves:70]


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Autor/Author: Ullica Segerstrale
Tytuł/Title: Defenders of the Truth: The Sociobiology Debate
ISBN: 9780192862150
Data wydania/Publish date: 2001-05-31
Wydawnictwo/Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Liczba stron/Number of pages: 512

When Edward O. Wilson published Sociobiology, it generated a firestorm of criticism, mostly focused on the book’s final chapter, in which Wilson applied lessons learned from animal behavior to human society. In Defenders of the Truth, Ullica Segerstrale takes a hard look at the sociobiology controversy, sorting through a hornet’s nest of claims and counterclaims, moral concerns, metaphysical beliefs, political convictions, strawmen, red herrings, and much juicy gossip. The result is a fascinating look at the world of modern science. Segerstrale has interviewed all the major participants, including such eminent scientists as Stephen Jay Gould, Richard C. Lewontin, Richard Dawkins, John Maynard Smith, Nobel Laureates Peter Medawar and Salvador Luria, and of course Edward Wilson. She reveals that most of the criticism of Wilson was unfair, but argues that it was not politically motivated. Instead, she sees the conflict over sociobiology as a drawn-out battle about the nature of „good science” and the social responsibility of the scientist. Behind the often nasty attacks were the very different approaches to science taken by naturalists (such as Wilson) and experimentalists (such as Lewontin), between the „planters” and the „weeders.” The protagonists were all defenders of the truth, Segerstrale concludes, it was just that everyone’s truth was different. Defenders of the Truth touches on grand themes such as the unity of knowledge, human nature, and free will and determinism, and it shows how the sociobiology controversy can shed light on the more recent debates over the Human Genome Project and The Bell Curve. It will appeal to all readers of Edward O. Wilson or Stephen Jay Gould and all those who enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek at modern science.


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