The Altruism Equation: Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness

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9780691125909: The Altruism Equation: Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness

In a world supposedly governed by ruthless survival of the fittest, why do we see acts of goodness in both animals and humans? This problem plagued Charles Darwin in the 1850s as he developed his theory of evolution through natural selection. Indeed, Darwin worried that the goodness he observed in nature could be the Achilles heel of his theory. Ever since then, scientists and other thinkers have engaged in a fierce debate about the origins of goodness that has dragged politics, philosophy, and religion into what remains a major question for evolutionary biology.



The Altruism Equation traces the history of this debate from Darwin to the present through an extraordinary cast of characters-from the Russian prince Petr Kropotkin, who wanted to base society on altruism, to the brilliant biologist George Price, who fell into poverty and succumbed to suicide as he obsessed over the problem. In a final surprising turn, William Hamilton, the scientist who came up with the equation that reduced altruism to the cold language of natural selection, desperately hoped that his theory did not apply to humans.


Hamilton's Rule, which states that relatives are worth helping in direct proportion to their blood relatedness, is as fundamental to evolutionary biology as Newton's laws of motion are to physics. But even today, decades after its formulation, Hamilton's Rule is still hotly debated among those who cannot accept that goodness can be explained by a simple mathematical formula. For the first time, Lee Alan Dugatkin brings to life the people, the issues, and the passions that have surrounded the altruism debate. Readers will be swept along by this fast-paced tale of history, biography, and scientific discovery.

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From the Inside Flap:


"The Altruism Equation is an important book in many different ways. It is important because it tackles a significant problem--namely, the levels at which natural selection operates. It is important because it tells a history never before revealed. And it is most important because the author's analysis lets us all move forward on these issues, with new insights and tools of discovery. I recommend it very highly."--Michael Ruse, Florida State University, author of The Evolution-Creation Struggle


"This wonderfully written book tells the history of a conceptual revolution in evolutionary biology that fundamentally changed the way scientists think about behavior. Although I do have a slightly different perspective here and there, I enthusiastically recommend this book to everyone who wants to understand the evolutionary roots of altruism and family. This fascinating book is a page-turner for scientists and lay persons alike."--Bert Hölldobler, author (with Edward O. Wilson) of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Ants


About the Author:

Lee Alan Dugatkin is Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Louisville. He is the author of many books, including the popular Cheating Monkeys and Citizen Bees: The Nature of Cooperation in Animals and Humans and Model Systems in Behavioral Ecology (Princeton).

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Lee Alan Dugatkin
Editore: Princeton University Press, United States (2006)
ISBN 10: 0691125902 ISBN 13: 9780691125909
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Descrizione libro Princeton University Press, United States, 2006. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In a world supposedly governed by ruthless survival of the fittest, why do we see acts of goodness in both animals and humans? This problem plagued Charles Darwin in the 1850s as he developed his theory of evolution through natural selection. Indeed, Darwin worried that the goodness he observed in nature could be the Achilles heel of his theory. Ever since then, scientists and other thinkers have engaged in a fierce debate about the origins of goodness that has dragged politics, philosophy, and religion into what remains a major question for evolutionary biology. The Altruism Equation traces the history of this debate from Darwin to the present through an extraordinary cast of characters-from the Russian prince Petr Kropotkin, who wanted to base society on altruism, to the brilliant biologist George Price, who fell into poverty and succumbed to suicide as he obsessed over the problem. In a final surprising turn, William Hamilton, the scientist who came up with the equation that reduced altruism to the cold language of natural selection, desperately hoped that his theory did not apply to humans. Hamilton s Rule, which states that relatives are worth helping in direct proportion to their blood relatedness, is as fundamental to evolutionary biology as Newton s laws of motion are to physics. But even today, decades after its formulation, Hamilton s Rule is still hotly debated among those who cannot accept that goodness can be explained by a simple mathematical formula. For the first time, Lee Alan Dugatkin brings to life the people, the issues, and the passions that have surrounded the altruism debate. Readers will be swept along by this fast-paced tale of history, biography, and scientific discovery. Codice libro della libreria AAU9780691125909

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Descrizione libro Princeton University Press, United States, 2006. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In a world supposedly governed by ruthless survival of the fittest, why do we see acts of goodness in both animals and humans? This problem plagued Charles Darwin in the 1850s as he developed his theory of evolution through natural selection. Indeed, Darwin worried that the goodness he observed in nature could be the Achilles heel of his theory. Ever since then, scientists and other thinkers have engaged in a fierce debate about the origins of goodness that has dragged politics, philosophy, and religion into what remains a major question for evolutionary biology. The Altruism Equation traces the history of this debate from Darwin to the present through an extraordinary cast of characters-from the Russian prince Petr Kropotkin, who wanted to base society on altruism, to the brilliant biologist George Price, who fell into poverty and succumbed to suicide as he obsessed over the problem. In a final surprising turn, William Hamilton, the scientist who came up with the equation that reduced altruism to the cold language of natural selection, desperately hoped that his theory did not apply to humans. Hamilton s Rule, which states that relatives are worth helping in direct proportion to their blood relatedness, is as fundamental to evolutionary biology as Newton s laws of motion are to physics. But even today, decades after its formulation, Hamilton s Rule is still hotly debated among those who cannot accept that goodness can be explained by a simple mathematical formula. For the first time, Lee Alan Dugatkin brings to life the people, the issues, and the passions that have surrounded the altruism debate. Readers will be swept along by this fast-paced tale of history, biography, and scientific discovery. Codice libro della libreria AAU9780691125909

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Descrizione libro Princeton University Press, 2006. Condizione libro: New. In a world supposedly governed by ruthless survival of the fittest, why do we see acts of goodness in both animals and humans? This work traces the history of this debate from Darwin. It aims to bring to life the people, the issues, and the passions that have surrounded the altruism debate. Num Pages: 208 pages, 3 line illus. 1 table. BIC Classification: PDZ; PSAJ; PSVP. Category: (G) General (US: Trade); (P) Professional & Vocational; (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 236 x 170 x 23. Weight in Grams: 494. . 2006. Hardcover. . . . . . Codice libro della libreria V9780691125909

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Descrizione libro Princeton University Press 2006-09-22, Princeton, N.J. |Oxford, 2006. hardback. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria 9780691125909

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Descrizione libro Princeton University Press. Condizione libro: New. In a world supposedly governed by ruthless survival of the fittest, why do we see acts of goodness in both animals and humans? This work traces the history of this debate from Darwin. It aims to bring to life the people, the issues, and the passions that have surrounded the altruism debate. Num Pages: 208 pages, 3 line illus. 1 table. BIC Classification: PDZ; PSAJ; PSVP. Category: (G) General (US: Trade); (P) Professional & Vocational; (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 236 x 170 x 23. Weight in Grams: 494. . 2006. Hardcover. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Codice libro della libreria V9780691125909

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