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Biology After the Sociobiology Debate

What Introductory Textbooks Say About the Nature of Science and Organisms

Carmen James Schifellite

This book analyzes the sociobiology debate and details a number of contested issues that have emerged. These issues focus on the interpretations and emphases that both sides have placed on the role of adaptation in evolution; the importance of evolution at the level of the gene versus at the level of organisms and populations; reductionism as a research method; simple Mendelianism versus more complex understandings of the relationship between genotype and phenotype; and ultimately, the nature of science itself.
The book includes textual analyses of a selection of university-level introductory biology textbooks written between 1990 and 2010, examining the ways these texts – with their photos, inserts, and various rhetorical devices – cover sociobiology specifically, and animal behavior in general; evolutionary theory; genetic theory; and the nature of science.
Biology After the Sociobiology Debate shows how, over the last two decades, sociobiology and the ensuing debates have influenced biological theory about the natures of science and the behavior of organisms, and how that influence is expressed in introductory textbooks. This book is important not just as a sociology of knowledge study, but also because of the ways in which continued biodeterminist discourses may influence debates and policy that are emerging around a new liberal or consumer-based eugenics movement.

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