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Evolution of Intelligence cover

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ISBN 0-8126-9459-7

$34.95   paper

280 pages


The Evolution of Intelligence

Are Humans the Only Animals with Minds?

James H. Fetzer

Evolutionary theory and philosophy of mind come together in this exciting yet carefully reasoned explanation of what is now known about humankind’s place in nature.

According to Professor Fetzer, any scientific account of the evolution of mind must be based on a theoretically defensible conception of what mind is, clarifying the way in which mental states influence behavior. Fetzer disputes the computational conception, currently the most fashionable within cognitive science, and propounds an alternative approach based on semiotics. Using gene-culture co-evolutionary theory, we can identify intelligence with epigenetic rules involving the use of signs. In this view, some machines may be credited with intelligence but not with minds.

Fetzer’s wide-ranging discussion sheds light on many controversial issues, including the scientific status of sociobiology, variability in intelligence among human populations, and the relation between biological evolution and moral imperatives.

"With his usual flair for clarity, Fetzer cuts through the mumbo-jumbo that now passes for received wisdom about mind, who has it, and why. Fetzer’s new book is a fresh semiotics of genes, minds, and culture—and why Darwinian psychohistory matters. It will provoke renewed controversy about what makes us human, and take us a step closer to the day when we will grasp our potential as moral beings in an evolving world."

—Charles J. Lumsden, co-author (with E.O. Wilson) of Genes, Mind, and Culture and Promethean Fire

"A great book for those who want to be informed and challenged! The Evolution of Intelligence provides an erudite examination of intelligence from the vantage points of biology, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, ethnology, and morality. Fetzer criticizes a number of widely accepted theories and offers interesting alternatives."

—James H. Moor, Editor, Minds and Machines

James H. Fetzer is Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. He has published over one hundred articles and twenty books on philosophy of science, computer science, artificial intelligence, and cognitive science. His honors include a research fellowship from the National Science Foundation and the Medal of the University of Helsinki.

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