Repository logo

The nature of philosophy and the philosophy of nature: Peter Godfrey-Smith: Philosophy of Biology. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014

Change log


Peter Godfrey-Smith’s introduction to the philosophy of biology is excellent. This review questions one implication of his book, namely that Darwin’s case for the efficacy of natural selection was hampered by his ignorance of the particulate nature of inheritance. I suggest, instead, that Darwin was handicapped by an inability to effectively engage in quantitative population thinking. I also question Godfrey-Smith’s understanding of the role that Malthusian struggle plays in linking natural selection to the origination of new adaptive traits, and I raise problems for his defence of apparently unproblematic conceptions of human nature. Finally, I highlight the welcome conception of a ‘philosophy of nature’ developed by Godfrey-Smith.



Human nature, Natural selection, Peter Godfrey-Smith, R. A. Fisher, William Bateson

Journal Title

Biology and Philosophy

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Kluwer Academic Publishers