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Agents and Goals in Evolution

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2019.05.01 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Samir Okasha, Agents and Goals in Evolution, Oxford University Press, 2018, 254pp., $40.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198815082. Reviewed by Robert A. Wilson, La Trobe University Samir Okasha's focus in this book is a pervasive way of describing and explaining organismic traits, including behaviours, what he calls, with a nod to Godfrey-Smith (2009), agential thinking. This is to think of evolved entities -- paradigmatically but not only organisms -- as agents with certain kinds of interests or goals that are pursued through strategies. Here explaining why organisms and other evolved entities have the phenotypic traits they do involves drawing on a subset of intentional idioms that ascribe psychological states to organisms, as Okasha says, "usually in an extended or metaphorical sense" (p.230). In Genes and the Agents of Life (2005), I referred to this aspect of agential thinking as a reliance... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

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