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Hardcover | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780262111096 | 470 pp. | 6 x 9 in | August 1985
Paperback | $50.00 Short | £37.95 | ISBN: 9780262610490 | 470 pp. | 6 x 9 in | March 1987

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Vaulting Ambition

Sociobiology and the Quest for Human Nature

About the Author

Philip Kitcher is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota, and Director of its Center for the Philosophy of Science. Kitcher is the author of a searching book on "Scientific" Creationism, Abusing Science, published by The MIT Press in 1982.


“This book is undoubtedly the finest overall assessment of sociobiology yet produced. It supersedes the writings of previous scholars, regardless of their field and regardless of their sympathy or antipathy for sociobiology. It is excellent – both philosophically and scientifically. This book is a stunning achievement. The ideas it develops are important; the mode of presentation is engaging and unfailingly interesting.”
Elliott Sober, Professor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin, Madison
“The best dissection ever published of the logic and illogic (mostly the latter) of sociobiology.”
Stephen J. Gould, Curator, Department of Invertebrate Paleontology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University
“With superb command of both philosophical and biological issues, Professor Kitcher has developed the most detailed and incisive analysist of sociobiology that has yet appeared. In gentle, reasoned terms and sparkling prose, he evenhandedly criticizes the arguments of both sociobiologists and their critics, and presents a devastating critique of sociobiology that is free from the rhetoric and excess that have sometimes marred such analyses. Vaulting Ambition is essential reading for anyone concerned with the bearing of evolutionary theory on our understanding of human nature.”
Douglas J. Futuyma, Professor, Ecology and Evolution, State University of New York at Stony Brook
Vaulting Ambition is indeed the last word on the subject of sociobiology. It is meticulous in its argument and total in its scope. It deals a carefully reasoned blow to the pretentions of sociobiologists. What Kitcher has done is to treat the question of socio-biology both from fundamental philosophical perspective and a technical perspective. He has shown that there are serious technical errors in what socio biologists attempt to do but he has shown that even if their technical apparatus were impeccable that there are deep underlying philosophical problems with which they have failed to cope.”
Richard Lewontin, Professor of Biology Emeritus, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Emeritus


Co-Winner, 1987 Lakatos Award in Philosophy of Science sponsored by the London School of Economics & Political Science.