Article ID: CBB001320623

Edward O. Wilson and the Organicist Tradition (2013)


Edward O. Wilson's recent decision to abandon kin selection theory has sent shockwaves throughout the biological sciences. Over the past two years, more than a hundred biologists have signed letters protesting his reversal. Making sense of Wilson's decision and the controversy it has spawned requires familiarity with the historical record. This entails not only examining the conditions under which kin selection theory first emerged, but also the organicist tradition against which it rebelled. In similar fashion, one must not only examine Wilson's long career, but also those thinkers who influenced him most, especially his intellectual grandfather, William Morton Wheeler (1865--1937). Wilson belongs to a long line of organicists, biologists whose research highlighted integration and coordination, many of whom struggled over the exact same biological riddles that have long defined Wilson's career. Drawing inspiration (and sometimes ideas) from these intellectual forebears, Wilson is confident that he has finally identified the origin of the social impulse.

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Authors & Contributors
Peterson, Erik L.
Hall, Brian K.
Bourrat, Pierrick
Rice, Collin C.
Christopher Lean
Rohwer, Yasha
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Journal of Experimental Zoology. Part B, Molecular and Developmental Evolution
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Journal of the History of Biology
British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
University of California, Riverside
Arizona State University
Johns Hopkins University Press
University of Chicago
Natural selection
Philosophy of biology
Wilson, Edward Osborne
Gulick, John Thomas
Price, George Robert
Müller, Hermann Joseph
Emerson, Alfred Edwards
Wheeler, William Morton
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
21st century
20th century, late
20th century
United States
Cambridge (England)
South America
Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.)

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