Download Defenders of the Truth: The Battle for Science in the by Ullica Segerstrale PDF

By Ullica Segerstrale

While Edward O. Wilson released Sociobiology, it generated a firestorm of feedback, normally desirous about the book's ultimate bankruptcy, within which Wilson utilized classes discovered from animal habit to human society. In Defenders of the Truth, Ullica Segerstrale takes a difficult examine the sociobiology controversy, sorting via a hornet's nest of claims and counterclaims, ethical issues, metaphysical ideals, political convictions, strawmen, pink herrings, and lots more and plenty juicy gossip. the result's a desirable examine the realm of recent technological know-how.
Segerstrale has interviewed all of the significant members, together with such eminent scientists as Stephen Jay Gould, Richard C. Lewontin, Richard Dawkins, John Maynard Smith, Nobel Laureates Peter Medawar and Salvador Luria, and naturally Edward Wilson. She finds that the majority of the feedback of Wilson used to be unfair, yet argues that it used to be now not politically influenced. in its place, she sees the clash over sociobiology as a drawn-out conflict in regards to the nature of "good technology" and the social accountability of the scientist. in the back of the customarily nasty assaults have been the very assorted ways to technology taken through naturalists (such as Wilson) and experimentalists (such as Lewontin), among the "planters" and the "weeders." The protagonists have been all defenders of the reality, Segerstrale concludes, it was once simply that everyone's fact used to be different.
Defenders of the Truth touches on grand topics corresponding to the team spirit of data, human nature, and loose will and determinism, and it indicates how the sociobiology controversy can make clear the more moderen debates over the Human Genome venture and The Bell Curve. it's going to attract all readers of Edward O. Wilson or Stephen Jay Gould and all those that get pleasure from a behind-the-scenes peek at sleek technological know-how.

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

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We will return to this in Chapters 13 and 14. In this chapter, we will look more closely at the nature of the disagreement between 36 D EFEN DERS OF TH E TRU TH Wilson and Lewontin and how it reflected a clash between their personal long-term moral-cum-scientific agendas, rather than between personalities as such. I will show how, for both Lewontin and Wilson, their larger agendas involve a coupling of scientific and moral interests. We will see how Wilson and Lewontin were on a countercourse before the beginning of the sociobiology controversy, and how the different nature of their moral-cum-scientific agendas made a head-on collision in 1975 inevitable.

Let us look at some of these. Might the controversy have been avoided, had the contending parties only sorted out their differences early on? One of the obvious candidates for a w hat-if scenario is W ilson’s chance meeting with Gould in the late spring of 1975. According to Wilson, Gould then warned him that there might be political upheaval because of Sodobiology, upon which Wilson invited Gould to come to his office to explain more closely what this meant. But Gould did not follow this up. Wilson was angry and disappointed that he had not been informed about the mounting opposition— according to W ilson’s own what-if scenario, he imagined that he could have helped dispel incorrect interpretations of the book’s message in this way (Wilson, interview in 1981).

Professorship of science in 1976. While at Harvard, Wilson came to ‘inherit’ the grand scientific ambitions of L. J. Henderson and W. M. Wheeler: the former the influential founder of the Harvard Society of Fellows, and the latter the eminent Harvard entomologist and popularizer of the ‘super­ organism’ concept. The great scientific dream of these two men was to integrate the social and natural sciences on the basis of equilibrium theory (Russett, 1966). Wilson, a student of W heeler’s student, C.

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