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Defenders of the Truth: the Battle for Science in the Sociobiology Debate and Beyond

by Segerstrale, Ullica A

  • ISBN: 9780198505051
  • ISBN10: 0198505051

Defenders of the Truth: the Battle for Science in the Sociobiology Debate and Beyond

by Segerstrale, Ullica A

  • List Price: $30.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publish date: 01/01/2000
  • ISBN: 9780198505051
  • ISBN10: 0198505051
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Description: In 1975, E.O. Wilson published Sociobiology, a study of evolution and animal societies; its last chapter called for attention to the Darwinian and genetic foundations of human behavior. The book produced prolonged contention among scientists and laypeople over morals, politics, genes, evolution, statistics, sex, race, "intelligence", evidence, truth, "human nature" and other hot-button topics. Why were they all so upset, and what can their arguments tell us? In a broad and detailed view of that intellectual firestorm along with its prequels and sequels, Segerstrale -- a professor of sociology at the Illinois Institute of Technology -- shows how "a debate about the nature of science, the relationship of science to society, and the nature of acceptable knowledge...was... expressed as a conflict between individuals". Debaters revealed not just their political underpinnings but their beliefs and assumptions about what constitutes valid science, what counts as verification, as fact and as falsehood. Segerstrale begins at the start of the clash, with Harvard titans Wilson and Richard Lewontin; backtracks to Britain in the mid-1960s, with a population biologist's investigations of altruism; and zooms forward to the "Science Wars" of the mid-1990s and the international slugfest over The Bell Curve. Partisans in these controversies will likely find something here to make them angry; they will also learn much they didn't know. Even those who might dispute Segerstrale's conclusions will appreciate her assiduous chronology of these tangled issues and her accounts of what many of the participants thought they were doing in their "battle for the soul of science in one of the few fields where it mightstill be fought".
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