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Darwin's Argument by Analogy
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  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Expected online publication date: July 2021
  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online ISBN: 9781108769518
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Book description

In On the Origin of Species (1859), Charles Darwin put forward his theory of natural selection. Conventionally, Darwin's argument for this theory has been understood as based on an analogy with artificial selection. But there has been no consensus on how, exactly, this analogical argument is supposed to work – and some suspicion too that analogical arguments on the whole are embarrassingly weak. Drawing on new insights into the history of analogical argumentation from the ancient Greeks onward, as well as on in-depth studies of Darwin's public and private writings, this book offers an original perspective on Darwin's argument, restoring to view the intellectual traditions which Darwin took for granted in arguing as he did. From this perspective come new appreciations not only of Darwin's argument but of the metaphors based on it, the range of wider traditions the argument touched upon, and its legacies for science after the Origin.

Reviews

‘Darwin's comparison between natural and artificial selection is not ‘just a metaphor.' It exemplifies a figure of argumentation that goes back to ancient Greek mathematics: proportional analogy. The implications of this fact, spelled out by the distinguished co-authors of Darwin's Analogy, are sure to change Darwin studies, both historical and philosophical, for good.'

David J. Depew - University of Iowa

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