Read The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today by Helena Cronin Online

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This book is a success story It explains two long running puzzles of the theory of natural selection How can natural selection favour those, like the ant, that renounce tooth and claw in favour of the public spirited ways of the commune How can it explain the peacock s tail, flamboyant and a burden to its bearer surely selection would act against useless ornamentation Helena Cronin s enthralling account blends history, science and philosophy in a gripping tale that is scholarly, entertaining and eminently readable The hardback edition was selected by Nature as one of the best scientific books in 1992 Also the New York Times chose it as one of their best books of 1992 The author divides her time between the Philosophy Department at the London School of Economics and the Zoology Department at Oxford....

Title : The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0521457653
ISBN13 : 978-0521457651
Format Type : E-Book
Language : Englisch
Publisher : Cambridge University Press Auflage Reprint 24 September 1993
Number of Pages : 508 Seiten
File Size : 580 KB
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today Reviews

  • Gunnar Ohrwall
    2018-12-24 20:47

    Dr. Cronin presents a philosophical history of the questions of sexual selection (as exemplified by the peacock in the title) and altruism (the ant), from the time of Darwin until today. She explains the background to the debate (or lack thereof) among Darwin's contemporaries and successors, which is sometimes difficult to understand with the gene based view of natural selection we have today. It is fascinating reading for the informed person, but the academic tone may be off putting to the casual reader. Dr. Cronin presupposes a fairly detailed knowledge of modern evolutionary theory, and the layperson may want to read some introduction such as Dawkins' books first.

  • Laurence Chalem
    2019-01-22 16:58

    That's a title of one of the chapters and one of the messages of the book THE ANT AND THE PEACOCK. One of the more challenging concepts to explain was altruism; after all, the theory that was called "Survival of the fittest," which was borrowed by Wallace from Spencer and eventually made its way to Darwin's Origin of the Species in the fifth edition, infers competition not cooperation. Well, Dr. Cronin does a wonderful job of explaining--via many examples including the title creatures--altruism and its flip-side, rivalry. Highly recommended... - lc

  • William S Jamison
    2018-12-31 19:50

    In one way this book seems to have become part of the history of the evolution of a theory and its implications. (Interesting point in itself is how evolutionary theory evolves.) We can easily forget how complicated a history all of this was and still is. Stephen Jay Gould's The Structure of Evolutionary Theory fits in this category of evolutionary thought regarding the theory of evolution as well, though perhaps Daniel Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea is THE text to that point. So far. Today it seems so obvious that both altruism and sexual selection play parts in development of complex systems that it is easy to forget that originators of the theory had various ideas at odds with one another and how the theory developed as a result of their dialogic interplay. And perhaps the male with the most beautiful theory wins. I mean, the complex system with the most beautiful theory gets to pass its complex system on to the next developmental stage. Or something like that.

  • Stephen A. Haines
    2019-01-16 18:47

    This comprehensive and engrossing study examines two major elements of evolution: the role of ornamenation in various species, and the presence of altruism in a nature deemed "red in tooth and claw." Cronin focuses throughout the book on the contrasting views of Charles Darwin and his co-founder of evolution by natural selection, Albert Russell Wallace. Darwin appended his earlier ideas outlined in The Origin of Species in The Descent of Man. In that later work, he enalrged on the idea of "sexual selection." He postulated that many evolutionary traits which appear as maladaptive to survival are actually derived from reproductive pressures. The issue of female choice among many species was a difficult idea to sell - Wallace never accepted it. He retained what Cronin deems "natural selection bygood sense," devoid of esthetics.Cronin chronicles the history of sexual selection with craft and precision. Her writing is unambiguous, providing excellent insights into many aspects of evolutionary thinking. As she develops her theme, she aknowledges her debt to Dawkin's work on the influence of genes manifesting as guides to adaptation. Cronin adds a new term in describing the merging of Mendelian genetics and Darwin's gradualist concept - "modern Darwism". She carefully explains how natural selection operates at the genetic level to achieve a "trade-off" of costs and benefits to arrive at selected traits. In this analysis, Cronin gently but firmly applies Darwinian implements to show how critics of modern Darwinism have misled themselves in seeking "alternative" answers to adapation. The have been asking the wrong questions! This view was hotly challenged by paleontologist Stephen Gould in a now-famous essay. He viewed with horror Cronin's application of gene selection as a definitive evolutionary process. He made a wide-ranging critique which attempted to refute applying any facets of animal behaviour to humans. The review touched off the [mostly] trans-Atlantic dispute over how adaptation actually works. It was the Sarajevo of the "Darwin Wars" between Gould and Dawkins, perhaps best summarized by Daniel Dennet. Cronin's use of evidence should have forestalled that conflict. Cronin's skills in applying essentials to explain adaptations are unimpeachable and her skillful prose only enhances the value of this work. It will stand for a long time as a landmark work in evolutionary studies.

  • Gunnar Ohrwall
    2019-01-21 18:07

    Dr. Cronin presents a philosophical history of the questions of sexual selection (as exemplified by the peacock in the title) and altruism (the ant), from the time of Darwin until today. She explains the background to the debate (or lack thereof) among Darwin's contemporaries and successors, which is sometimes difficult to understand with the gene based view of natural selection we have today. It is fascinating reading for the informed person, but the academic tone may be off putting to the casual reader. Dr. Cronin presupposes a fairly detailed knowledge of modern evolutionary theory, and the layperson may want to read some introduction such as Dawkins' books first.