Ruse, Michael 1940-

views updated

Ruse, Michael 1940-

(Michael E. Ruse)

PERSONAL: Born June 21, 1940. Education: University of Bristol, B.A., 1962, Ph.D., 1970; McMaster University, M.A., 1964.

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of Philosophy, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1500. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Educator, writer, and editor. University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, lecturer, 1965–69, assistant professor, 1969–71, associate professor, 1971–74, professor of philosophy and zoology, 1974–2000; Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy, 2000–. Clare Hall, Cambridge, associate, 1972–73; Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, visiting professor, winter, 1976; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, visiting scholar, 1983–84; Wolfson College, Cambridge, associate and fellow, 1990–91; L'Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Montpellier, France, guest director, 1993–94; University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, Erskine fellow, 1994; University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, Gifford Lecturer, 2001. Lecturer in the United States, Canada, and Venezuela; associate of the Center for Science and Religion at the Lutheran School of Theology; has appeared on radio and television.

MEMBER: Royal Society of Canada (fellow), American Association for the Advancement of Science (fellow).

AWARDS, HONORS: Canada Council grants, 1971, 1974, and 1976–77, and fellowship, 1972–73; Guggenheim fellowship, 1983–84; Killam fellowship, 1983–84; honorary doctoral degree, University of Bergen, 1990, and McMaster University, 2003.

WRITINGS:

The Philosophy of Biology, Hutchinson University Press (London, England), 1973.

Sociobiology: Sense or Nonsense?, D. Reidel (Boston, MA), 1979, 2nd edition, 1985.

The Darwinian Revolution: Science Red in Tooth and Claw, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1979, 2nd edition, 1999.

Is Science Sexist?: And Other Problems in the Biomedical Sciences, D. Reidel (Boston, MA), 1981.

Darwinism Defended: A Guide to the Evolution Controversies, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1982.

Taking Darwin Seriously: A Naturalistic Approach to Philosophy, Blackwell (New York, NY), 1986, Prometheus Books (Amherst, NY), 1998.

Philosophy of Biology Today, State University of New York (Albany, NY), 1988.

(Compiler and author of introduction) Philosophy of Biology, Collier (New York, NY), 1989.

The Darwinian Paradigm: Essays on Its History, Philosophy, and Religious Implications, Routledge (New York, NY), 1989.

Homosexuality: A Philosophical Inquiry, Blackwell (New York, NY), 1990.

Evolutionary Naturalism: Selected Essays, Routledge (New York, NY), 1995.

Monad to Man: The Concept of Progress in Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1996.

Mystery of Mysteries: Is Evolution a Social Construction?, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.

The Evolution Wars: A Guide to the Debates, ABC-CLIO (Santa Barbara, CA), 2000.

Can a Darwinian Be a Christian?: The Relationship between Science and Religion, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY) 2001.

Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose?, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.

The Evolution-Creation Struggle, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

Darwinism and Its Discontents, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to books, including Laws, Logic, Life, edited by R. Colodny, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1977; Matters of Life and Death: Crises in Bio-Medical Ethics, edited by John E. Thomas, Samuel Stevens (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1978; The Sociobiology Debate, edited by Arthur L. Caplan, Harper (New York, NY), 1979; Selection, Theory, and Social Construction: The Evolutionary Naturalistic Epistemology of Donald T. Campbell, edited by David Hull and Cecilia Hayes, SUNY Press (Albany, NY), 2001; and Evolution and Epistemology, edited by Jane Maienschein, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2003.

Editor, "Philosophy and Biology" series, Cambridge University Press; contributor of articles and reviews to philosophy journals. Founding editor, Biology and Philosophy; member of editorial board of numerous journals, including Zygon, Philosophy of Science, Science Education, Quarterly Review of Biology, Episteme, Victorian Studies, Journal of the Philosophy of Life Science, and Ludus Vitalis.

EDITOR

Nature Animated: Historical and Philosophical Case Studies in Greek Medicine, Nineteenth-Century and Recent Biology, Psychiatry, and Psychoanalysis: Papers Deriving from the Third International Conference on the History and Philosophy of Science, [Montreal], 1980, D. Reidel (Boston, MA), 1983.

But Is It Science?: The Philosophical Question in the Creation/Evolution Controversy, Prometheus Books (Amherst, NY), 1988.

What the Philosophy of Biology Is: Essays Dedicated to David Hull, Kluwer Academic (Boston, MA), 1989.

Philosophy of Biology, Prometheus Books (Amherst, NY), 1998.

(With David L. Hull) The Philosophy of Biology, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1998.

(With June Maienschein) Biology and the Foundation of Ethics, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1999.

William Whewell, Of the Plurality of Worlds, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2001.

(With Aryne Sheppard) Cloning: Responsible Science or Technomadness?, Prometheus Books (Amherst, NY), 2001.

(With David Castle) Genetically Modified Foods: Debating Biotechnology, Prometheus Books (Amherst, NY), 2002.

(With Christopher A. Pynes) The Stem Cell Controversy: Debating the Issues, Prometheus Books (Amherst, NY), 2003.

(With Abigail Lustig and Robert J. Richards) Darwinian Heresies, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

(With William A. Dembski) Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS: Michael E. Ruse, a Canadian professor of both philosophy and zoology, has written extensively on the subject of Charles Darwin and his evolutionary theories. Ruse's collection The Darwinian Paradigm: Essays on Its History, Philosophy, and Religious Implications opens with a discussion of the philosophical ideas that influenced Darwin at the time he was developing his theories and closes with a discussion of the implications those theories hold for theology. The eight essays in between cover a variety of topics, including teleology (the examination of phenomena as displaying purpose or direction) and how different aspects of biology provide contributing evidence for Darwin's ideas. Raymond E. Grizzle's review of The Darwinian Paradigm for BioScience concentrates on the science-versus-religion aspects of the book. Viewing Ruse as "one of the more well-known and respected philosophers of science," Grizzle noted that many "who fully accept biological evolution as a scientific theory but not as a religion" would be interested in Ruse's opinions on the subject. However, Grizzle also added that "it is not clear to me where Ruse stands on the overall relationship between science and religion." The reviewer went on to write: "My criticisms not withstanding, I think this book must be read by those interested in the historical development of Darwinism."

In Monad to Man: The Concept of Progress in Evolutionary Biology Ruse argues that the belief in moral and social progress, as embodied in the Enlightenment and defined by the writings of philosophers such as Voltaire and Condorcet, has had a profound influence on the science of evolutionary biology from its very origins. Ruse begins his historical survey in the eighteenth century, examining both the research and the attitudes that shaped that research for scientists of the era, including the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles. Moving on to the first half of the nineteenth century, Ruse covers the work of Georges Cuvier, Richard Owen, Karl Ernst von Baer, and Louis Agassiz, among others. Writing in Science, Francisco J. Ayala noted: "Ruse skillfully shows how the temper of the times, most particularly optimism about cultural progress, pervaded these early biologists' highly speculative theorizing." Ruse presents a more detailed analysis of Charles Darwin, tracing the gradual acceptance of his theories into the twentieth century and exploring their influence on other scientific disciplines, such as mathematics, genetics, and paleontology. Throughout, he continues to assert that the belief in progress introduced a philosophical bias that tainted the scientific objectivity of both Darwin and those who expanded upon his work. While seemingly impressed with the scholarship of Ruse's study, and in agreement with the central thesis of Monad to Man, Ayala takes issue with Ruse's claim that the ideology of progress continues to influence the outcome of biological research today and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Ayala feels that contemporary scientists are cognizant of this bias and that they no longer believe that judgments about the "progressiveness" of a species are a relevant topic for scientific inquiry.

Ruse broadens the thesis of Monad to Man in his 1999 study, Mystery of Mysteries: Is Evolution a Social Construction? Describing the "central question" of the book in Publishers Weekly, a reviewer wrote: "Is science a report on objective reality with special standards of truth finding, as Austrian-born philosopher Karl Popper maintains, or is it a culturally bound enterprise, a sequence of paradigms that subjectively mirror our ever-shifting view of the world?" Beginning his study with the work of Erasmus Darwin (who saw evolution as a work set in motion by a non-interfering God) and ending with contemporary scientists such as Stephen Jay Gould (whose theory of "punctuated equilibrium," according to Ruse, owes a debt to the Marxist views of Gould's father), Ruse presents a detailed examination of ten evolutionary theorists, showing how the individual cultural biases of each influenced both the direction of their researches and the conclusions they reached. However, Ruse goes on to contend that as a science matures the effects of cultural bias decline while the role played by scientific objectivity increases. Mary Carroll of Booklist found Mystery of Mysteries to be a "challenging but readable study." Lloyd Davidson, writing in the Library Journal, dubbed it "thoughtful and fascinating … a brilliant analysis." John Tyler Bonner of Natural History described Ruse's portraits of individual scientists and their work as "elegant vignettes."

Ruse served as coeditor with David Castle of Genetically Modified Foods: Debating Biotechnology. The volume presents a wide variety of opinions about the dangers and benefits of genetically modifying the food supply and is divided into ten sections, each including articles from both scientific publications and those meant for the general public. Topics covered include religion, labeling, food safety, risk assessment, and environmental impacts. For example, one essay focuses on the genetic development of "golden rice," that is, genetically engineered rice that was created to contain carotene to provide vitamin A to people in poor countries. Another entry discusses the ease with which transgenes can spread from crops to wild plants. The book also contains a prologue featuring the negative views of Great Britain's Prince Charles concerning genetically modified foods and a scathing reply in the form of an open letter from the scientist Richard Dawkins. Writing in the Quarterly Review of Biology, Hugh Lacey thought a high point of the volume was a "historical account of the application of intellectual property rights to living beings." In a review in Alternatives Journal, Allan Greenbaum commented that the editors' "sympathies lie, at least in principle, with the pro-biotech side." Greenbaum added, "Most of the pieces are lively, well-written, informative, [and] insightful."

In Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose?, Ruse "traces the history of teleological thinking from the 'beginnings of Western civilization' to the present," as noted by Isis contributor Lindley Darden, who recommended the book for "those interested in recent experimental and theoretical evolutionary biol-ogy." Ruse also delves into Christian views of design and counterarguments by evolutionists. Reviewing the book, Darden wrote: "The book's easily readable style makes it suitable for the general public, students in science and religion courses, and others interested in an overview of the history of ideas about adaptation and design." Writing in the Quarterly Review of Biology, Laura Betzig called the author "a force in the Darwin wars," while in Theological Studies, Eugene E. Selk wrote that the author "debunks very well the 'potted histories' that portray the Darwinian revolution as yet another battle in the ongoing war between science and religion." Kliatt contributor Nola Theiss also noted that the book included "an excellent bibliography and index."

Ruse continues his exploration of both Christian and Darwinian thought in Can a Darwinian Be a Christian?: The Relationship between Science and Religion. As he explores the compatibility between the two, Ruse writes about how Christians have looked at the theory of evolution since it was proposed and explores the differences between Darwinism and Christianity. In the process, he proposes that the differences do not mean that a Christian cannot believe in evolution. Specifically, the author looks at such aspects of Christian thought as the notion of Genesis and how the idea of creation taking place in a literal six days is not an entrenched orthodoxy among Christians. Robert C. Koons, writing in Ethics, noted that the author also makes "a helpful distinction between evolution as a fact …, as a path …, and as a cause." Koons also commented: "Michael Ruse has written, in his usual, sprightly style, a thoughtful book."

In The Evolution-Creation Struggle, Ruse provides a historical look at fundamentalism and the development of evolution as a science, from the Victorian stance on evolution when it was first introduced to modern day proponents of "intelligent design." In the process, the author describes how misguided thinking on both the religious and scientific sides has led to contentions within society. Writing in the Library Journal, Walter L. Cressler noted that "this book takes a nonpolemical approach, which is rare."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Alternatives Journal, fall, 2003, Allan Greenbaum, review of Genetically Modified Foods: Debating Biotechnology, p. 53.

BioScience, September, 1994, Raymond E. Grizzle, review of The Darwinian Paradigm: Essays on Its History, Philosophy, and Religious Implications, p. 560.

Booklist, April 15, 1999, Mary Carroll, review of Mystery of Mysteries: Is Evolution a Social Construction?, p. 1495.

Ethics, October, 2004, Robert C. Koons, review of Can a Darwinian Be a Christian?: The Relationship between Science and Religion, p. 163.

Isis, June, 2004, Lindley Darden, review of Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose?, p. 338.

Kliatt, January, 2005, Nola Theiss, review of Darwin and Design, p. 36.

Library Journal, April 1, 1999, Lloyd Davidson, review of Mystery of Mysteries, p. 125; May 1, 2005, Walter L. Cressler, review of The Evolution-Creation Struggle, p. 113.

National Review, March 8, 1999, Paul R. Gross, "Science Goes Nuts," p. 50.

Natural History, April, 1999, John Tyler Bonner, review of Mystery of Mysteries, p. 20.

Publishers Weekly, February 15, 1999, review of Mystery of Mysteries, p. 91.

Quarterly Review of Biology, September, 2003, Hugh Lacey, review of Genetically Modified Foods, p. 348; December, 2003, Laura Betzig, review of Darwin and Design, p. 463.

Science, January 24, 1997, Francisco J. Ayala, review of Monad to Man: The Concept of Progress in Evolutionary Biology, p. 495.

Theological Studies, March, 2005, Eugene E. Selk, review of Darwin and Design, p. 222.