In this episode of our Two for Tea podcast, editor-in-chief Iona Italia and deputy editor Daniel Sharp talk to evolutionary biologist Arvid Ågren about the selfish gene theory: its history, strengths, critics and offshoots.
See also Daniel Sharp’s accompanying review of Arvid Ågren’s The Gene’s Eye View for Areo.
Buy Arvid’s book, The Gene’s-Eye View of Evolution: global.oup.com/academic/product/…260?cc=us&lang=en
The Two for Tea episode featuring Sean B. Carroll:
Twoforteapodcast – 77-sean-b-carroll-revolutionising-our-understanding-of-evo-biology
00.00 Opening and introductions.
4:59 Why Arvid wanted to write his book The Gene’s-Eye View of Evolution.
5:57 Daniel reads a passage from Arvid’s book.
9:00 The sociological aspects of the gene’s-eye view. How did Arvid become interested in evolutionary biology and the gene’s-eye view? Evolutionary biology’s links with history and philosophy.
13:50 Similarities between Richard Dawkins and Arvid’s background interest in evolutionary biology. Arvid outlines the selfish gene theory and its intellectual history.
18:47 Are some of the arguments over the gene’s-eye view terminological rather than substantial? What if The Selfish Gene had been called The Immortal Gene?
19:58 Stephen Jay Gould vs. Dawkins: critiques of selfish genery. What questions were Gould and Dawkins separately interested in, and what does this tell us about their disagreements?
27:18 Evolutionary developmental biology (evo devo) and its relationship to selfish gene theory.
31:01 Is the evo devo/selfish gene binary really valid? Dawkins’ contributions to evo devo.
33:21 What are the most compelling critiques of the selfish gene view? What does Arvid think of the alternative ways—evo devo, the extended synthesis, etc—of looking at evolution? Why is the selfish gene view valuable? In which senses is the selfish gene view incomplete? Pluralism and preferences in science.
44:38 The empirical consequences of the gene’s-eye view: extended phenotypes and selfish genetic elements. Plus: Salman Rushdie and W. D. Hamilton’s “eternal disquiet within.”
58:40 Why should scientists study the history of ideas?
1:01:37 The role of metaphorical thinking in science.
1:06:32 The sociological reception of the selfish gene view.
1:10:04 What is the current standing and future of the gene’s-eye view?
1:14:30 The extended evolutionary synthesis: is the Modern Synthesis outdated?
1:20:31 Last words and outro.