Reconstructing the Past
Parsimony, Evolution and Inference
By (author) Elliott Sober
Reconstructing the Past by Elliott Sober
Book DescriptionReconstructing the Past seeks to clarify and help resolve the vexing methodological issues that arise when biologists try to answer such questions as whether human beings are more closely related to chimps than they are to gorillas. It explores the case for considering the philosophical idea of simplicity/parsimony as a useful principle for evaluating taxonomic theories of evolutionary relationships.For the past two decades, evolutionists have been vigorously debating the appropriate methods that should be used in systematics, the field that aims at reconstructing phylogenetic relationships among species. This debate over phylogenetic inference, Elliott Sober observes, raises broader questions of hypothesis testing and theory evaluation that run head on into long standing issues concerning simplicity/parsimony in the philosophy of science.Sober treats the problem of phylogenetic inference as a detailed case study in which the philosophical idea of simplicity/parsimony can be tested as a principle of theory evaluation. Bringing together philosophy and biology, as well as statistics, Sober builds a general framework for understanding the circumstances in which parsimony makes sense as a tool of phylogenetic inference. Along the way he provides a detailed critique of parsimony in the biological literature, exploring the strengths and limitations of both statistical and nonstatistical cladistic arguments.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780262691444
(229mm x 152mm x 17mm)
Imprint: MIT Press
Publisher: MIT Press Ltd
Publish Date: 10-Apr-1991
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Elliott Sober
Ockham's Razors, Hardback (July 2015)
This book uses philosophy, science and probability to analyse why simpler theories are better than theories that are more complex.
Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards?, Paperback (December 2010)
Collects philosophical essays on Darwin. This title raises such questions as: Did Charles Darwin reject the idea that group selection causes characteristics to evolve that are good for the group but bad for the individual? How does Darwin's discussion of God square with the common view of him as the champion of methodological naturalism?
Evidence and Evolution, Paperback (March 2008)
Elliott Sober explores how the concept of evidence applies to creationism, natural selection and common ancestry.
Adaptationism and Optimality, Paperback (June 2001)» View all books by Elliott Sober
A systematic treatment of foundational, conceptual, and methodological issues surrounding the theory of adaptationism.
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Author Biography - Elliott Sober
Eliott Sober is Hans Reichenbach Professor and William F. Vilas Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of The Nature of Selection (MIT Press, 1984), Reconstructing the Past (MIT Press, 1988), Philosophy of Biology, and, with David S. Wilson, Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior.
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