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Philosophy of Biology

Edited by John Wilkins (University of Sydney, University of Melbourne)
Assistant editor: Justin Bzovy (University of Western Ontario)
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  1. Lindell Bromham (forthcoming). What is a Gene For? Biology and Philosophy:1-21.
    The word “gene” means different things to different people, and can even be used in multiple ways by the same individual. In this review, I follow a particular thread running through Griffith and Stotz’s “Genetics and Philosophy: an introduction”, which is the way that methods of investigation influence the way we define the concept of “gene”, from nineteen century breeding experiments to twenty-first century big data bioinformatics. These different views lead to a set of gene concepts, which only partially overlap (...)
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    Developmental Biology
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    Teleology and Function
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  2. Adrian Currie (forthcoming). Marsupial Lions and Methodological Omnivory: Function, Success and Reconstruction in Paleobiology. Biology and Philosophy:1-23.
    Historical scientists frequently face incomplete data, and lack direct experimental access to their targets. This has led some philosophers and scientists to be pessimistic about the epistemic potential of the historical sciences. And yet, historical science often produces plausible, sophisticated hypotheses. I explain this capacity to generate knowledge in the face of apparent evidential scarcity by examining recent work on Thylacoleo carnifex, the ‘marsupial lion’. Here, we see two important methodological features. First, historical scientists are methodological omnivores, that is, they (...)
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  3. Zoubeida R. Dagher & Sibel Erduran (2014). Laws and Explanations in Biology and Chemistry: Philosophical Perspectives and Educational Implications. In Michael R. Matthews (ed.), International Handbook of Research in History, Philosophy and Science Teaching. Springer. 1203-1233.
    This chapter utilises scholarship in philosophy of biology and philosophy of chemistry to produce meaningful implications for biology and chemistry education. The primary purpose for studying philosophical literature is to identify different perspectives on the nature of laws and explanations within these disciplines. The goal is not to resolve ongoing debates about the nature of laws and explanations but to consider their multiple forms and purposes in ways that promote deep and practical understanding of biological and chemical knowledge in educational (...)
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  4. Brian Key (forthcoming). Fish Do Not Feel Pain and its Implications for Understanding Phenomenal Consciousness. Biology and Philosophy:1-17.
    Phenomenal consciousness or the subjective experience of feeling sensory stimuli is fundamental to human existence. Because of the ubiquity of their subjective experiences, humans seem to readily accept the anthropomorphic extension of these mental states to other animals. Humans will typically extrapolate feelings of pain to animals if they respond physiologically and behaviourally to noxious stimuli. The alternative view that fish instead respond to noxious stimuli reflexly and with a limited behavioural repertoire is defended within the context of our current (...)
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  5. Lucas J. Mix (2014). Proper Activity, Preference, and the Meaning of Life. Philosophy and Theory in Biology 6.
    The primary challenge for generating a useful scientific definition of life comes from competing concepts of biological activity and our failure to make them explicit in our models. I set forth a three-part scheme for characterizing definitions of life, identifying a binary , a range , and a preference . The three components together form a proper activity in biology . To be clear, I am not proposing that proper activity be adopted as the best definition of life or even (...)
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  6. William A. Rottschaefer (1990). Review: Beyond the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis. [REVIEW] Behavior and Philosophy 18 (2):79 - 84.
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  7. Abner Shimony (1993). Search for a Naturalistic Worldview, Volume 2: Natural Science and Metaphysics. Cambridge University Press.
    Table of Contents: Acknowledgements; Preface; 1. Integral epistemology; 2. Reality, causality and closing the circle; 3. Search for a world view that can accommodate our knowledge of microphysics; 4. Perception from an evolutionary point of view; 5. Is observation theory-laden? A problem in naturalistic epistemology; 6. Coherence and the axioms of confirmation; 7. An adamite derivation of the principles of the calculus of probability; 8. The status of the principle of maximum entropy; 9. Scientific inference; 10. Reconsiderations on inductive logic; (...)
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  8. Lori Stevens (2000). Experimental Studies of Group Selection: A Genetical Perspective. Journal of Consciousness Studies 7 (1-2):1-2.
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  9. B. Thierry (2000). Group Sanctions Without Social Norms? Journal of Consciousness Studies 7 (1-2):1-2.
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