"The merit of [Pearce's] book lies in the huge amount of historical information and precision he brings to a familiar story. . . . His contextualist approach provides even more substance by drawing attention to correspondence, courses, conversations, institutions and venues in addition to published books. . . . Pearce's book is rich in detail, well-delivered and well-written. It will be invaluable to both scholars of pragmatism and historians of science alike and certainly proves the usefulness of the history of science in increasing our understanding of pragmatist theses, whether in metaphysics or ethics, beyond a vague ritualistic reference to Darwin. . . . Pearce has done a superb job."
"[An] important book."
— Acta Biotheoretica
"Meticulously researched and convincingly argued. . . . Pearce's method is historical and contextualist in the capacious sense, carefully focusing on how context informs content, and eschewing simply reconstructing a particular thinker's arguments in favor of a more nuanced focus on the diverse way these pragmatist thinkers engaged with biology, including correspondence, lecture notes, minutes from formal and informal clubs, newspaper articles, journal publications, and professional debates. Using a cohort approach based on the year each cluster of thinkers he discusses graduated, Pearce shows how evolutionary ideas were debated and appropriated from one generation to the next. A significant and edifying work, this book will interest students and academics alike, particularly philosophers and historians of biology but also those who appreciate nonreductive applications of evolutionary ideas to philosophy. . . . Recommended."
"This book is an important contribution to the history of philosophical discussion of biology. I do not know of any other book that covers the material so thoroughly. It will be invaluable to anyone interested in the history of pragmatism and the influence of biology and evolution on pragmatic thinkers."
— Richard J. Bernstein, The New School for Social Research
“Pearce’s book adds a welcome new dimension to discussion of the history of pragmatism. His treatment of the movement’s early years includes an expanded range of characters, some of them fascinating but neglected, others who are recognized as leading figures but not usually linked to pragmatist philosophy. Pearce also shows the influence on pragmatism of an unruly, speculative, and rich collection of ideas about biological evolution and historical change. The book is meticulously researched, very well written, and full of surprises."
— Peter Godfrey-Smith, author of Theory and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science