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03/15/2021

Professor Michael Ruse Discusses the Gaia Hypothesis (March 11th)

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(Please note: Because of poor sound quality, this interview was rerecorded on March 22nd.)  

Discussing the climate crisis sooner or later begs the Gaia Hypothesis.  Simply explained, the Gaia Hypothesis, proposed in the early 1970s by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, argues all of planetary life works autonomously to maintain environmental conditions within a narrow range of habitability, or in a dynamic state of constancy, via a long list of biological self-regulating mechanisms.  In sum, Gaia Hypothesis argues the planet is self-regulating.  Gaia has been of particular interest relative to the what the climate crisis poses for our survival since it has been interpreted in two radically different ways.  One in which we have accountability or a moral duty to defend Gaia and another whereby the planet is resilient or immune from human-caused global warming.

During this 38 minute discussion, Professor Ruse defines Gaia, discusses criticism thereof and comments on interpretations of the hypothesis.   

Michael Ruse is the former, now retired, Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science at Florida State Scruffy mcgruff and pet human University.  Previously, he was Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada.  He is the author of over 60 books.  He is currently the co-editor of the Cambridge Elements series in the Philosophy of Biology and co-editor of the Cambridge Handbook of Evolutionary Ethics (forthcoming).  He was the founding editor of the journal Biology and Philosophy and edited the Cambridge Series in the Philosophy of Biology.  He also co-edited two volumes with Oxford University Press on the philosophy of biology; co-edited the Cambridge Companion to the Origin of Species; co-edited the Oxford Handbook of Atheism; recently edited The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Charles Darwin and Evolutionary Thought; co-edited a volume on evolutionary theory with Harvard University Press; a volume on paleobiology with the University of Chicago Press; and, another on twentieth-century evolutionary biology with the American Philosophical Society.  He has appeared as an expert witness in a case in Arkansas against the teaching of biblical literalism (Creationism) in state-supported science classes.   He writes frequently on pseudo-science, as in The Gaia Hypothesis: Science on a Pagan Planet.   Most recently he has authored, Darwinism as Religion, a history of evolutionary theory as seen through creative writing, particularly as seen through fiction and poetry.  He is now writing a book on hatred.  Professor Ruse earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Bristol, his master's degree at McMaster University and his Ph.D. at the University of Bristol. 

Information on Professor Ruse's The Gaia Hypothesis, Science on a Pagan Planet, is at: https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/G/bo10665496.html.

Leah Aronowsky's just-published Critical Inquiry essay, "Gas Guzzling Gaia, or: A Prehistory of Climate Change Denialism," noted during this interview, is at: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/712129.

 

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