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Title: Sociobiology, universal Darwinism and their transcendence : an investigation of the history, philosophy and critique of Darwinian paradigms, especially gene-Darwinism, process-Darwinism, and their types of reductionism - towards a theory of the evolution of evolutionary processes, evolutionary freedom and ecological idealism
Author: von Sydow, Momme
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2001
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Based on a review of different Darwinian paradigms, particularly sociobiology, this work, both, historically and philosophically, develops a metaphysic of gene-Darwinism and process-Darwinism, and then criticises and transcends these Darwinian paradigms in order to achieve a truly evolutionary theory of evolution. Part I introduces essential aspects of current sociobiology as the original challenge to this investigation. The claim of some sociobiologists that ethics should become biologized in a gene-egoistic way, is shown to be tied to certain biological views, which ethically lead to problematic results. In part II a historical investigation into sociobiology and Darwinism in general provides us, as historical epistemology', with a deeper understanding of the structure and background of these approaches. Gene-Darwinism, which presently dominates sociobiology and is linked to Dawkins' selfish gene view of evolution, is compared to Darwin's Darwinism and the evolutionary' synthesis and becomes defined more strictly. An account of the external history of Darwinism and its subparadigms shows how cultural intellectual presuppositions, like Malthusianism or the Newtonian concept of the unchangeable laws of nature, also influenced biological theory' construction. In part III universal 'process-Darwinism' is elaborated based on the historical interaction of Darwinism with non-biological subject areas. Building blocks for this are found in psychology, the theory of science and economics. Additionally, a metaphysical argument for the universality of process- Darwinism, linked to Hume's and Popper's problem of induction, is proposed. In part IV gene-Darwinism and process-Darwinism are criticised. Gene-Darwinism—despite its merits—is challenged as being one-sided in advocating 'gene-atomism', 'germ-line reductionism' and 'process-monism'. My alternative proposals develop and try to unify different criticisms often found. In respect of gene-atomism I advocate a many-level approach, opposing the necessary radical selfishness of single genes. I develop the concept of higher-level genes, propose a concept of systemic selection, which may stabilise group properties, without relying on permanent group selection and extend the applicability of a certain group selectionist model generally to small open groups. Proposals of mine linked to the critique of germ-line reductionism are: 'exformation', phenotypes as evolutionary factors and a field theoretic understanding of causa formalis (resembling Aristotelian hylemorphism). Finally the process-monism of gene-Darwinism, process-Darwinism and, if defined strictly, Darwinism in general is criticised. 1 argue that our ontology and ethics would be improved by replacing the Newtoman-Paleyian deist metaphor of an eternal and unchangeable law of nature, which lies at tire very heart of Darwinism, by a truly evolutionary understanding of evolution where new processes may gain a certain autonomy. All this results in a view that I call 'ecological idealism', which, although still very much based on Darwinism, clearly transcends a Darwinian world view.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Evolution Philosophy Religion Biology