Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Book: Beyond Mechanism

Book Description:

It has been said that new discoveries and developments in the human, social, and natural sciences hang “in the air” (Bowler, 1983; 2008) prior to their consummation. While neo-Darwinist biology has been powerfully served by its mechanistic metaphysic and a reductionist methodology in which living organisms are considered machines, many of the chapters in this volume place this paradigm into question. Pairing scientists and philosophers together, this volume explores what might be termed “the New Frontiers” of biology, namely contemporary areas of research that appear to call an updating, a supplementation, or a relaxation of some of the main tenets of the Modern Synthesis. Such areas of investigation include: Emergence Theory, Systems Biology, Biosemiotics, Homeostasis, Symbiogenesis, Niche Construction, the Theory of Organic Selection (also known as “the Baldwin Effect”), Self-Organization and Teleodynamics, as well as Epigenetics. Most of the chapters in this book offer critical reflections on the neo-Darwinist outlook and work to promote a novel synthesis that is open to a greater degree of inclusivity as well as to a more holistic orientation in the biological sciences.

Foreword: Evolution beyond Newton, Darwin, and Entailing 

Law 1 
Stuart A. Kauffman 

Introduction: On a “Life-Blind Spot” in Neo-Darwinism’s  Mechanistic Metaphysical Lens 25 
Adam C. Scarfe 

Section 1: Complexity, Systems Theory, and Emergence 

1 Complex Systems Dynamics in Evolution and Emergent  Processes 67 
Bruce H. Weber 

2 Why Emergence Matters 75 
Philip Clayton 

3 On the Incompatibility of the Neo-Darwinian Hypothesis  With Systems-Theoretical Explanations of Biological  Development 93 
Gernot Falkner and Renate Falkner 

4 Process-First Ontology 115 
Robert E. Ulanowicz 

5 Ordinal Pluralism as Metaphysics for Biology 133 
Lawrence Cahoone 

Section 2: Biosemiotics 

6 Why Do We Need a Semiotic Understanding of Life? 147 
Jesper Hoffmeyer 

7 The Irreducibility of Life to Mentality: Biosemiotics or 
Emergence? 169 
Lawrence Cahoone 

Section 3: Homeostasis, Thermodynamics, and Symbiogenesis 

8 Biology’s Second Law: Homeostasis, Purpose and Desire 183 
J. Scott Turner 

9 “Wind at Life’s Back”—Toward a Naturalistic, Whiteheadian Teleology: Symbiogenesis and the Second Law 205 
Dorion Sagan and Lynn Margulis 

10 Of Termites and Men: On the Ontology of Collective Individuals 233 
Brian G. Henning 

Section 4: The Baldwin Effect, Behavior, and Evolution 

11 The Baldwin Effect in an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis 251 
Bruce H. Weber 

12 On the Ramifications of the Theory of Organic Selection for Environmental and Evolutionary Ethics 259 
Adam C. Scarfe 

Section 5: Autogenesis, Teleology, and Teleodynamics 

13 Teleology versus Mechanism in Biology: Beyond  Self-Organization 287 
Terrence Deacon and Tyrone Cashman 

14 Teleodynamics: A Neo-Naturalistic Conception of  Organismic Teleology 309 
Spyridon Koutroufinis 

Section 6: Epigenetics 

15 Epigenesis, Epigenetics, and the Epigenotype: Toward An Inclusive Concept of Development and Evolution 345 
Brian K. Hall 

16 Epigenetics, Soft Inheritance, Mechanistic Metaphysics, and Bioethics 369 
Adam C. Scarfe 

Section 7: Organism and Mechanism 

17 From Organicism to Mechanism—and Halfway Back? 409 
Michael Ruse 

18 Machines and Organisms: The Rise and Fall of a Conflict 431 
Philip Clayton

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