Join us on 8th June at 5pm (GMT+1) in a drop-in session for librarians and researchers interested in our membership scheme, via Zoom

Hanging on to the Edges: Essays on Science, Society and the Academic Life (hardback)

Hanging on to the Edges: Essays on Science, Society and the Academic Life (hardback) Daniel Nettle
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78374-581-4 £26.95
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78374-580-7 £16.95

I love this book. I love the essays and I love the overall form. Reading these essays feels like entering into the best kind of intellectual conversation—it makes me want to write essays in reply. It makes me want to get everyone else reading it. I almost never feel this enthusiastic about a book.
—Rebecca Saxe, Professor of Cognitive Science at MIT

What does it mean to be a scientist working today; specifically, a scientist whose subject matter is human life? Scientists often overstate their claim to certainty, sorting the world into categorical distinctions that obstruct rather than clarify its complexities. In this book Daniel Nettle urges the reader to unpick such distinctions—biological versus social sciences, mind versus body, and nature versus nurture—and look instead for the for puzzles and anomalies, the points of connection and overlap. These essays, converted from often humorous, sometimes autobiographical blog posts, form an extended meditation on the possibilities and frustrations of the life scientific.

Pragmatically arguing from the intersection between social and biological sciences, Nettle reappraises the virtues of policy initiatives such as Universal Basic Income and income redistribution, highlighting the traps researchers and politicians are liable to encounter. This provocative, intelligent and self-critical volume is a testament to the possibilities of interdisciplinary study—whose virtues Nettle stridently defends—drawing from and having implications for a wide cross-section of academic inquiry. This will appeal to anybody curious about the implications of social and biological sciences for increasingly topical political concerns. It comes particularly recommended to Sciences and Social Sciences students and to scholars seeking to extend the scope of their field in collaboration with other disciplines.

Hanging on to the Edges: Essays on Science, Society and the Academic Life
Daniel Nettle | Forthcoming 2018
ISBN Paperback: 978-1-78374-580-7
ISBN Hardback: 978-1-78374-581-4
ISBN Digital (PDF): 978-1-78374-582-1
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 978-1-78374-583-8
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 978-1-78374-584-5
ISBN Digital (XML): 978-1-78374-608-8
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0155
Subject codes: BIC: HP (Philosophy), HPS (social and political philosophy), PSX (Human Biology); BISAC: SOC026000 (SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General), SCI080000 (SCIENCE / Essays), SCI008000 (SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Biology)



1.    How my theory explains everything: and can make you happier, healthier, and wealthier

2.    What we talk about when we talk about biology

3.    The cultural and the agentic

4.    What is cultural evolution like?

5.    Is it explanation yet?


6.    The mill that grinds young people old

7.    Why inequality is bad

8.    Let them eat cake!

9.    The worst thing about poverty is not having enough money

10.    Getting your head around the Universal Basic Income


11.    The need for discipline

12.    Waking up and going out to work in the uncanny valley

13.    Staying in the game

14.    Morale is high (since I gave up hope)



Daniel Nettle is Professor of Behavioural Science at Newcastle University. His varied research career has spanned a number of topics, from the behaviour of starlings to the origins of social inequality in human societies. His research is highly interdisciplinary and sits at the boundaries of the social, psychological and biological sciences. Daniel has published seven previous books, including most recently an ethnographic study entitled Tyneside Neighbourhoods: Deprivation, Social Life and Social Behaviour in one English City, also published by Open Book. Daniel has served as President of the European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association, a council member of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and an editor of the journals Evolution and Human Behavior, Evolution, Medicine and Public Health, and the Proceedings of the Royal Society, B.