Grant Ramsey and Charles H. Pence (eds.), Chance in Evolution, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016, 384 pp., $45
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What is the role of chance in evolution? The question associated with the title promises a multifaceted exploration of a convoluted topic. This collection of twelve essays does not disappoint expectations. Chance in Evolution considers a range of temporal and spatial scales, aiming to map the concept of ‘chance’ in the context of evolution in as many of its contemporary and past incarnations as possible.
The volume gathers contributions from historians, philosophers, theologians, and scientists and is articulated under three main themes. The first of them (Chapters 1–5) proposes a historical perspective on the concept of chance and its development. The second (Chapters 6–8) deals with conceptual issues associated with the notion of chance in the practice of contemporary biology. The third (Chapters 9–12) proposes something roughly in between the first two by focusing in particular on the question of contingency in macroevolution, assessing conceptual claims on the subject in light of...