Richard Dawkins provides excellent examples of his reasoning and interpretation skills in The Selfish Gene. His 1976 book is not a work of original research, but instead a careful explanation of evolution, combined with an argument for a particular interpretation of several aspects of evolution. Since Dawkins is building on other researchers’ work and writing for a general audience, the central elements of good reasoning are vital to his book: producing a clear argument and presenting a persuasive case; organising an argument and supporting its conclusions.
In doing this, Dawkins also employs the crucial skill of interpretation: understanding what evidence means; clarifying terms; questioning definitions; giving clear definitions on which to build arguments. The strength of his reasoning and interpretative skills played a key part in the widespread acceptance of his argument for a gene-centred interpretation of natural selection and evolution – and in its history as a bestselling classic of science writing.
Table of Contents
Ways in to the Text
Who is Richard Dawkins?
What does The Selfish Gene Say?
Why does The Selfish Gene Matter?
Section 1: Influences
Module 1: The Author and the Historical Context
Module 2: Academic Context
Module 3: The Problem
Module 4: The Author's Contribution
Section 2: Ideas
Module 5: Main Ideas
Module 6: Secondary Ideas
Module 7: Achievement
Module 8: Place in the Author's Work
Section 3: Impact
Module 9: The First Responses
Module 10: The Evolving Debate
Module 11: Impact and Influence Today
Module 12: Where Next?
Glossary of Terms
People Mentioned in the Text