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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. added 2014-08-25
    Quayshawn Spencer (forthcoming). A Radical Solution to the Race Problem. Philosophy of Science.
    It has become customary among philosophers and biologists to claim that folk racial classification has no biological basis. This paper attempts to debunk that view. In this paper, I show that ‘race’, as used in current U.S. race talk, picks out a biologically real entity. I do this by, first, showing that ‘race’, in this use, is not a kind term, but a proper name for a set of human population groups. Next, using recent human genetic clustering results, I show (...)
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  2. added 2014-08-24
    Matthew Kopec (forthcoming). Clines, Clusters, and Clades in the Race Debate. Philosophy of Science 81.
    Although there once was a general consensus among race scholars that applying race categories to humans is biologically illegitimate, this consensus has been erased over the past decade. This is largely due to advances in population genetics that allow biologists to pick out genetic population clusters that approximate some of our common sense racial categories. In this paper, I argue that this new ability really ought not undermine our confidence in the biological illegitimacy of the human races. Unfortunately, the claim (...)
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  3. added 2014-08-24
    James Justus (2013). Philosophical Issues in Ecology. In K. Kampourakis (ed.), Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators. Springer. 343–371.
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  4. added 2014-08-24
    Sahotra Sarkar, Conservation Biology. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Conservation biology emerged as an organized academic discipline in the United States in the 1980s though much of its theoretical framework was originally developed in Australia. Significant differences of approach in the two traditions were resolved in the late 1990s through the formulation of a consensus framework for the design and adaptive management of conservation area networks. This entry presents an outline of that framework along with a critical analysis of conceptual issues concerning the four theoretical problems that emerge from (...)
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  5. added 2014-08-13
    Joeri Witteveen (forthcoming). Naming and Contingency: The Type Method of Biological Taxonomy. Biology and Philosophy:1-18.
    Biological taxonomists rely on the so-called ‘type method’ to regulate taxonomic nomenclature. For each newfound taxon, they lay down a ‘type specimen’ that carries with it the name of the taxon it belongs to. Even if a taxon’s circumscription is unknown and/or subject to change, it remains a necessary truth that the taxon’s type specimen falls within its boundaries. Philosophers have noted some time ago that this naming practice is in line with the causal theory of reference and its central (...)
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  6. added 2014-08-12
    Hannes Rusch (forthcoming). The Evolutionary Interplay of Intergroup Conflict and Altruism in Humans: A Review of Parochial Altruism Theory and Prospects for its Extension. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B.
    Drawing on an idea proposed by Darwin, it has recently been hypothesised that violent intergroup conflict might have played a substantial role in the evolution of human cooperativeness and altruism. The central notion of this argument, dubbed ‘parochial altruism’, is that the two genetic or cultural traits, aggressiveness against out-groups and cooperativeness towards the in-group, including self-sacrificial altruistic behaviour, might have coevolved in humans. This review assesses the explanatory power of current theories of ‘parochial altruism’. After a brief synopsis of (...)
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  7. added 2014-08-06
    Vincenzo Fano, Enrico Giannetto, Giulia Giannini & Pierluigi Graziani (2012). Complessità E Riduzionismo. ISONOMIA - Epistemologica Series Editor.
    The enormous increasing of connections between people and the noteworthy enlargement of domains and methods in sciences have augmented extraordinarily the cardinality of the set of meaningful human symbols. We know that complexity is always on the way to become complication, i.e. a non-tractable topic. For this reason scholars engage themselves more and more in attempting to tame plurality and chaos. In this book distinguished scientists, philosophers and historians of science reflect on the topic from a multidisciplinary point of view. (...)
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  8. added 2014-08-05
    Kevin McCain & Brad Weslake (2013). Evolutionary Theory and the Epistemology of Science. In Kostas Kampourakis (ed.), The Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators. Springer. 101-119.
    Evolutionary theory is a paradigmatic example of a well-supported scientific theory. In this chapter we consider a number of objections to evolutionary theory, and show how responding to these objections reveals aspects of the way in which scientific theories are supported by evidence. Teaching these objections can therefore serve two pedagogical aims: students can learn the right way to respond to some popular arguments against evolutionary theory, and they can learn some basic features of the structure of scientific theories and (...)
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  9. added 2014-08-04
    Thomas Pradeu, Sébastien Jaeger & Eric Vivier (2013). The Speed of Change: Towards a Discontinuity Theory of Immunity? Nature Reviews Immunology 13 (10):764–769.
    Immunology — though deeply experimental in everyday practice — is also a theoretical discipline. Recent advances in the understanding of innate immunity, how it is triggered and how it shares features that have previously been uniquely ascribed to the adaptive immune system, can contribute to the refinement of the theoretical framework of immunology. In particular, natural killer cells and macrophages are activated by transient modifications, but adapt to long-lasting modifications that occur in the surrounding tissue environment. This process facilitates the (...)
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  10. added 2014-08-01
    Elisabeth A. Lloyd & Stephen Crowley, Essentialism and Human Nature. Encyclopedia of Life Sciences.
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  11. added 2014-07-18
    Michael Baumgartner & Alexander Gebharter (forthcoming). Constitutive Relevance, Mutual Manipulability, and Fat-Handedness. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    The first part of this paper argues that if Craver’s ([2007a], [2007b]) popular mutual manipulability account (MM) of mechanistic constitution is embedded within Woodward’s ([2003]) interventionist theory of causation--for which it is explicitly designed--it either undermines the mechanistic research paradigm by entailing that there do not exist relationships of constitutive relevance or it gives rise to the unwanted consequence that constitution is a form of causation. The second part shows how Woodward’s theory can be adapted in such a way that (...)
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  12. added 2014-07-14
    Gal Kober (2010). Biology Without Species: A Solution to the Species Problem. Dissertation, Boston University
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  13. added 2014-07-14
    Gal Kober (2010). Michel J. Behe. In Roger Chapman (ed.), Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices. M.E. Sharpe. 39-40.
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  14. added 2014-07-14
    Gal Kober (2006). Review - Debating Design From Darwin to DNA by William A. Dembski and Michael Ruse (Editors) Cambridge University Press, 2004. [REVIEW] Metapsychology Online Reviews 10 (3).
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  15. added 2014-07-01
    Ehud Lamm & Ohad Kammar (forthcoming). Inferring Co-Evolution. Philosophy of Science.
    We discuss two inference patterns for inferring the coevolution of two characters based on their properties at a single point in time and determine when developmental interactions can be used to deduce evolutionary order. We discuss the use of the inference patterns we present in the biological literature and assess the arguments’ validity, the degree of support they give to the evolutionary conclusion, how they can be corroborated with empirical evidence, and to what extent they suggest new empirically addressable questions. (...)
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  16. added 2014-06-28
    Gábor Holló (forthcoming). Animals Are Both Radially and Bilaterally Symmetrical: Accommodating Seemingly Mutually Exclusive Paradigms. Bioessays:n/a-n/a.
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  17. added 2014-06-24
    John Klasios (2014). The Evolutionary Psychology of Human Mating: A Response to Buller's Critique. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 47:1-11.
    In this paper, I critique arguments made by philosopher David Buller against central evolutionary-psychological explanations of human mating. Specifically, I aim to rebut his criticisms of Evolutionary Psychology regarding (1) women's long-term mating preferences for high-status men; (2) the evolutionary rationale behind men's provisioning of women; (3) men's mating preferences for young women; (4) women's adaptation for extra-pair sex; (5) the sex-differentiated evolutionary theory of human jealousy; and (6) the notion of mate value. In sum, I aim to demonstrate that (...)
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  18. added 2014-06-16
    Andrew J. Murray & Hugh E. Montgomery (forthcoming). How Wasting is Saving: Weight Loss at Altitude Might Result From an Evolutionary Adaptation. Bioessays:n/a-n/a.
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  19. added 2014-06-16
    Michal Reichman-Fried & Erez Raz (forthcoming). Small Proteins, Big Roles: The Signaling Protein Apela Extends the Complexity of Developmental Pathways in the Early Zebrafish Embryo. Bioessays:n/a-n/a.
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  20. added 2014-06-16
    Bengt Kayser (forthcoming). High Altitude Cachexia: Adaptation Instead of Deterioration? (Comment on DOI 10.1002/Bies.201400042). Bioessays:n/a-n/a.
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  21. added 2014-06-10
    Nicolae Morar, Ted Toadvine & Brendan Bohannan (forthcoming). Biodiversity at Twenty-Five Years: Revolution or Red Herring? Ethics, Policy, and Environment.
  22. added 2014-06-10
    Benjamin Smart (2014). On the Classification of Diseases. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 35 (4):251-269.
    Identifying the necessary and sufficient conditions for individuating and classifying diseases is a matter of great importance in the fields of law, ethics, epidemiology, and of course, medicine. In this paper, I first propose a means of achieving this goal, ensuring that no two distinct disease-types could correctly be ascribed to the same disease-token. I then posit a metaphysical ontology of diseases—that is, I give an account of what a disease is. This is essential to providing the most effective means (...)
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  23. added 2014-06-10
    Christopher J. Austin (2014). The Dispositional Genome: Primus Inter Pares. Biology and Philosophy:1-20.
    According to the proponents of Developmental Systems Theory and the Causal Parity Thesis, the privileging of the genome as “first among equals” with respect to the development of phenotypic traits is more a reflection of our own heuristic prejudice than of ontology - the underlying causal structures responsible for that specified development no more single out the genome as primary than they do other broadly “environmental” factors. Parting with the methodology of the popular responses to the Thesis, this paper offers (...)
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  24. added 2014-06-09
    Amy M. Schmitter (2008). How to Engineer a Human Being: Passions and Functional Explanation in Descartes. In Janet Broughton & John Carriero (eds.), A Companion to Descartes. Blackwell. 426-444.
  25. added 2014-06-06
    Lasse Gerrits & Peter Marks (forthcoming). The Evolution of Wright's (1932) Adaptive Field to Contemporary Interpretations and Uses of Fitness Landscapes in the Social Sciences. Biology and Philosophy:1-21.
    The concepts of adaptation and fitness have such an appeal that they have been used in other scientific domains, including the social sciences. One particular aspect of this theory transfer concerns the so-called fitness landscape models. At first sight, fitness landscapes visualize how an agent, of any kind, relates to its environment, how its position is conditional because of the mutual interaction with other agents, and the potential routes towards improved fitness. The allure of fitness landscapes is first and foremost (...)
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