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.
Dr Nicola Davis studied cell biology at Durham University and received her PhD from the Research Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at University College London.
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