Richard Dawkins provides excellent examples of his reasoning and interpretation skills in The Selfish Gene. His 1976 book is not a work of original research, but instead a careful explanation of evolution, combined with an argument for a particular interpretation of several aspects of evolution. Since Dawkins is building on other researchers’ work and writing for a general audience, the central elements of good reasoning are vital to his book: producing a clear argument and presenting a persuasive case; organising an argument and supporting its conclusions.
In doing this, Dawkins also employs the crucial skill of interpretation: understanding what evidence means; clarifying terms; questioning definitions; giving clear definitions on which to build arguments. The strength of his reasoning and interpretative skills played a key part in the widespread acceptance of his argument for a gene-centred interpretation of natural selection and evolution – and in its history as a bestselling classic of science writing.
Ways in to the text Who is Richard Dawkins? What does The Selfish Gene say? Why does The Selfish Gene matter? Section 1: Influences Module 1: The Author and the Historical Context Module 2: Academic Context Module 3: The Problem Module 4: The Author's Contribution Section 2: Ideas Module 5: Main Ideas Module 6: Secondary Ideas Module 7: Achievement Module 8: Place in the Author's Work Section 3: Impact Module 9: The First Responses Module 10: The Evolving Debate Module 11: Impact and Influence Today Module 12: Where Next? Glossary of Terms People Mentioned in the Text Works Cited
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