The term "folkbiology" refers to people's everyday understanding of the biological world—how they perceive, categorize, and reason about living kinds. The study of folkbiology not only sheds light on human nature, it may ultimately help us make the transition to a global economy without irreparably damaging the environment or destroying local cultures.
This book takes an interdisciplinary approach, bringing together the work of researchers in anthropology, cognitive and developmental psychology, biology, and philosophy of science. The issues covered include: Are folk taxonomies a first-order approximation to classical scientific taxonomies, or are they driven more directly by utilitarian concerns? How are these category schemes linked to reasoning about natural kinds? Is there any nontrivial sense in which folk-taxonomic structures are universal? What impact does science have on folk taxonomy? Together, the chapters present the current foundations of folkbiology and indicate new directions in research.
Scott Atran, Terry Kit-fong Au, Brent Berlin, K. David Bishop, John D. Coley, Jared Diamond, John Dupré, Roy Ellen, Susan A. Gelman, Michael T. Ghiselin, Grant Gutheil, Giyoo Hatano, Lawrence A. Hirschfeld, David L. Hull, Eugene Hunn, Kayoko Inagaki, Frank C. Keil, Daniel T. Levin, Elizabeth Lynch, Douglas L. Medin, Julia Beth Proffitt, Bethany A. Richman, Laura F. Romo, Sandra R. Waxman.
About the Editors
Douglas L. Medin is Louis W. Menk Professor of Psychology and Professor of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. He is the coauthor of The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature and coeditor of Folkbiology, both published by the MIT Press.
Scott Atran is Research Director in Anthropology at France's National Center for Scientific Research and Visiting Professor of Psychology and Public Policy at the University of Michigan. He is the coeditor, with Douglas Medin, of Folkbiology (MIT Press, 1999).
—Ronald W. Casson, Department of Anthropology, Oberlin College