Darwins Dice: The Idea of Chance in the Thought of Charles Darwin

Hardcover | September 4, 2014

byCurtis Johnson

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For evolutionary biologists, the concept of chance has always played a significant role in the formation of evolutionary theory. As far back as Greek antiquity, chance and "luck" were understood to be key factors in the evolution of the natural world. Emphasizing chance is an entire way ofthinking about nature, and it is also one of the key ideas that separates Charles Darwin from other systematic biologists of his time. Studying the concept of chance in Darwin's writing reveals core ideas in his theory of evolution, as well as his reflections on design, purpose, and randomness innature's progression over the course of history.In Darwin's Dice: The Idea of Chance in the Thought of Charles Darwin, Curtis Johnson does exactly that. He examines the work of Darwin in terms of his views on randomness and chance, and how the views changed as his work progressed. Randomness was a focal point for Darwin, and pursuing it as atheme helped significantly transform his research. Darwin's Dice shows us how Darwin defined "chance," and explores Darwin's influential architect metaphor in relation to the idea. Through the lens of randomness, Johnson reveals how Darwin's treatment of free will becomes more complex. This approachcan shed light on many other quirks and points of interest in Darwin's work, including the curiously shifting presence of giraffes in subsequent drafts of On the Origin of Species. Johnson also reexamines Darwin's "Metaphysical Notebooks," and discusses the role Darwin felt that chance plays inmorality and religion.Darwin's Dice presents a new way to look at Darwinist thought and the writings on Charles Darwin. Curtis Johnson reveals that chance and randomness play a large part in Darwinist thought, and that we can better understand Darwin's work by understanding that part.

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For evolutionary biologists, the concept of chance has always played a significant role in the formation of evolutionary theory. As far back as Greek antiquity, chance and "luck" were understood to be key factors in the evolution of the natural world. Emphasizing chance is an entire way ofthinking about nature, and it is also one of th...

Curtis Johnson is a Professor of Government at Lewis and Clark College. He has published many articles and chapters on the history of science and Darwinist thought.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:September 4, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019936141X

ISBN - 13:9780199361410

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Two Faces of Chance2. Chance Transport3. Causes and Laws of Variation4. Chance, Nature, and Intelligence5. Darwin's Evolving Views about Chance6. "So-Called Spontaneous Variation"7. Darwin's Architect Metaphor8. Darwin's Giraffes9. Chance and Free Will10. Chance and Human MoralityBibliography