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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 2015-03-04
    Robert J. O'Hara (1997). Population Thinking and Tree Thinking in Systematics. Zoologica Scripta 26 (4): 323–329.
    Two new modes of thinking have spread through systematics in the twentieth century. Both have deep historical roots, but they have been widely accepted only during this century. Population thinking overtook the field in the early part of the century, culminating in the full development of population systematics in the 1930s and 1940s, and the subsequent growth of the entire field of population biology. Population thinking rejects the idea that each species has a natural type (as the earlier essentialist view (...)
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  2. added 2015-03-04
    Robert J. O'Hara (1994). Evolutionary History and the Species Problem. American Zoologist 34 (1): 12–22.
    In the last thirty years systematics has transformed itself from a discipline concerned with classification into a discipline concerned with reconstructing the evolutionary history of life. This transformation has been driven by cladistic analysis, a set of techniques for reconstructing evolutionary trees. Long interested in the large-scale structure of evolutionary history, cladistically oriented systematists have recently begun to apply "tree thinking" to problems near the species level. ¶ In any local ("non-dimensional") situation species are usually well-defined, but across space and (...)
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  3. added 2015-03-03
    Fred Keijzer (forthcoming). Moving and Sensing Without Input and Output: Early Nervous Systems and the Origins of the Animal Sensorimotor Organization. Biology and Philosophy:1-21.
    It remains a standing problem how and why the first nervous systems evolved. Molecular and genomic information is now rapidly accumulating but the macroscopic organization and functioning of early nervous systems remains unclear. To explore potential evolutionary options, a coordination centered view is discussed that diverges from a standard input–output view on early nervous systems. The scenario involved, the skin brain thesis , stresses the need to coordinate muscle-based motility at a very early stage. This paper addresses how this scenario (...)
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  4. added 2015-03-01
    Neil Gemmell & Jonci N. Wolff (forthcoming). Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy: Cautiously Replace the Master Manipulator. Bioessays:n/a-n/a.
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  5. added 2015-03-01
    Robert J. O'Hara (2006). Essay-Review of Christian's 'Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History'. [REVIEW] International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (1): 117–120.
  6. added 2015-02-28
    Robert J. O'Hara (2007). Essay-Review of Valentine's 'On the Origin of Phyla'. [REVIEW] International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (1): 109–112.
  7. added 2015-02-28
    Robert J. O'Hara (1996). Mapping the Space of Time: Temporal Representation in the Historical Sciences. Memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences 20: 7–17.
    William Whewell (1794–1866), polymathic Victorian scientist, philosopher, historian, and educator, was one of the great neologists of the nineteenth century. Although Whewell's name is little remembered today except by professional historians and philosophers of science, researchers in many scientific fields work each day in a world that Whewell named. "Miocene" and "Pliocene," "uniformitarian" and "catastrophist," "anode" and "cathode," even the word "scientist" itself—all of these were Whewell coinages. Whewell is particularly important to students of the historical sciences for another word (...)
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  8. added 2015-02-28
    Robert J. O'Hara (1996). Trees of History in Systematics and Philology. Memorie Della Società Italiana di Scienze Naturali E Del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano 27 (1): 81–88.
    "The Natural System" is the name given to the underlying arrangement present in the diversity of life. Unlike a classification, which is made up of classes and members, a system or arrangement is an integrated whole made up of connected parts. In the pre-evolutionary period a variety of forms were proposed for the Natural System, including maps, circles, stars, and abstract multidimensional objects. The trees sketched by Darwin in the 1830s should probably be considered the first genuine evolutionary diagrams of (...)
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  9. added 2015-02-28
    Robert J. O'Hara (1994). Vita: Chauncey Wright—Brief Life of an 'Indolent Genius': 1830–1875. Harvard Magazine 96 (4): 42–43.
    Chauncey Wright (1830–1874) was one of the first American philosophers to explore the implications of Charles Darwin's work in evolutionary biology. Wright became a strong supporter of the idea of natural selection and a strong critic of the anti-selectionist and teleological arguments of St. George Jackson Mivart and Herbert Spencer, and he laid the groundwork for the field that is today called evolutionary epistemology. As the mentor of the original Cambridge "Metaphysical Club" (William James, Charles Sanders Peirce, and Oliver Wendell (...)
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  10. added 2015-02-28
    Robert J. O'Hara (1994). Review of Panchen's 'Classification, Evolution, and the Nature of Biology'. [REVIEW] Isis 85 (1): 182–183.
  11. added 2015-02-28
    Robert J. O'Hara (1993). Systematic Generalization, Historical Fate, and the Species Problem. Systematic Biology 42 (3): 231–246.
    The species problem is one of the oldest controversies in natural history. Its persistence suggests that it is something more than a problem of fact or definition. Considerable light is shed on the species problem when it is viewed as a problem in the representation of the natural system (sensu Griffiths, 1974, Acta Biotheor. 23: 85–131; de Queiroz, 1998, Philos. Sci. 55: 238–259). Just as maps are representations of the earth, and are subject to what is called cartographic generalization, so (...)
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  12. added 2015-02-28
    Robert J. O'Hara (1993). Review of Atran's 'Cognitive Foundations of Natural History: Towards an Anthropology of Science'. [REVIEW] Forest and Conservation History 37 (1): 43.
  13. added 2015-02-28
    Robert J. O'Hara (1989). Systematics and the Study of Natural History, with an Estimate of the Phylogeny of the Living Penguins. Dissertation, Harvard University
    Chapter 1. Evolutionary biology is an historical science, and should be considered within the context of the philosophy of history, not the philosophy of science. Just as philosophers of history distinguish between chronicle and narrative history, I distinguish between evolutionary chronicle and narrative evolutionary history. Systematics estimates the evolutionary chronicle. Explanations of the events in the evolutionary chronicle are of the how-possibly, continuous series, and integrating types described by philosophers of history. Pre-evolutionary explanations of states are still widespread in "evolutionary" (...)
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  14. added 2015-02-28
    Robert J. O'Hara (1988). Diagrammatic Classifications of Birds, 1819–1901: Views of the Natural System in 19th-Century British Ornithology. Acta XIX Congressus Internationalis Ornithologici: pp. 2746–2759.
    Classifications of animals and plants have long been represented by hierarchical lists of taxa, but occasional authors have drawn diagrammatic versions of their classifications in an attempt to better depict the "natural relationships" of their organisms. Ornithologists in 19th-century Britain produced and pioneered many types of classificatory diagrams, and these fall into three groups: (a) the quinarian systems of Vigors and Swainson (1820s and 1830s); (b) the "maps" of Strickland and Wallace (1840s and 1850s); and (c) the evolutionary diagrams of (...)
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  15. added 2015-02-28
    Robert J. O'Hara (1988). Homage to Clio, or, Toward an Historical Philosophy for Evolutionary Biology. Systematic Zoology 37 (2): 142–155.
    Discussions of the theory and practice of systematics and evolutionary biology have heretofore revolved around the views of philosophers of science. I reexamine these issues from the different perspective of the philosophy of history. Just as philosophers of history distinguish between chronicle (non-interpretive or non-explanatory writing) and narrative history (interpretive or explanatory writing), I distinguish between evolutionary chronicle (cladograms, broadly construed) and narrative evolutionary history. Systematics is the discipline which estimates the evolutionary chronicle. ¶ Explanations of the events described in (...)
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  16. added 2015-02-27
    Alan C. Love (forthcoming). ChINs, Swarms, and Variational Modalities: Concepts in the Service of an Evolutionary Research Program. Biology and Philosophy:1-16.
    Günter Wagner’s Homology, Genes, and Evolutionary Innovation collects and synthesizes a vast array of empirical data, theoretical models, and conceptual analysis to set out a progressive research program with a central theoretical commitment: the genetic theory of homology. This research program diverges from standard approaches in evolutionary biology, provides sharpened contours to explanations of the origin of novelty, and expands the conceptual repertoire of evolutionary developmental biology . I concentrate on four aspects of the book in this essay review: the (...)
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  17. added 2015-02-27
    Michael Weisberg (forthcoming). Biology and Philosophy Symposium on Simulation and Similarity: Using Models to Understand the World. Biology and Philosophy:1-12.
    Simulation and Similarity: Using Models to Understand the World is an account of modeling in contemporary science. Modeling is a form of surrogate reasoning where target systems in the natural world are studied using models, which are similar to these targets. My book develops an account of the nature of models, the practice of modeling, and the similarity relation that holds between models and their targets. I also analyze the conceptual tools that allow theorists to identify the trustworthy aspects of (...)
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  18. added 2015-02-22
    Carmine Di Martino (2012). Husserl e la questione uomo/animale. Nóema 3:1-34.
    Nell’agenda della fenomenologia non figura la questione uomo-animale. E tuttavia nell’ultima fase della sua riflessione Husserl ha ripetutamente affrontato il tema, nell’ottica di una analisi fenomenologico-trascendentale della costituzione del mondo umano. La fenomenologia husserliana si mostra come una via per interrogare, in maniera non ideologica, a partire dall’esperienza del mondo della vita, i problemi della animalità e dell’umanità, per ripensare differenze e continuità.
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  19. added 2015-02-20
    Hannes Rusch, Joost M. Leunissen & Mark van Vugt (forthcoming). Historical and Experimental Evidence of Sexual Selection for War Heroism. Evolution and Human Behavior.
    We report three studies which test a sexual selection hypothesis for male war heroism. Based on evolutionary theories of mate choice we hypothesize that men signal their fitness through displaying heroism in combat. First, we report the results of an archival study on US-American soldiers who fought in World War II. We compare proxies for reproductive success between a control sample of 449 regular veterans and 123 surviving Medal of Honor recipients of WWII. Results suggest that the heroes sired more (...)
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  20. added 2015-02-19
    Raymond Aaron Younis (2009). Climbing Mount Unintellgible? Science Religion and the Question of Meaning and Explanation. [REVIEW] European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 1 (1):2009.
  21. added 2015-02-19
    Raymond Aaron Younis (1998). Shattering the Mirror of Nature. [REVIEW] Metascience 7 (1):216-221.
  22. added 2015-02-19
    Raymond Aaron Younis (1997). Science Reason and Rhetoric. [REVIEW] Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75 (4):548-550.
  23. added 2015-02-16
    Andrew Light (2003). Introduction: Social Hope and Environmental Philosophy. Social Philosophy Today 19:1-13.
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  24. added 2015-02-15
    Roberta L. Millstein (forthcoming). Thinking About Populations and Races in Time. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.
    Biologists and philosophers have offered differing concepts of biological race. That is, they have offered different candidates for what a biological correlate of race might be; for example, races might be subspecies, clades, lineages, ecotypes, or genetic clusters. One thing that is striking about each of these proposals is that they all depend on a concept of population. Indeed, some authors have explicitly characterized races in terms of populations. However, including the concept of population into concepts of race raises three (...)
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  25. added 2015-02-15
    Roberta L. Millstein (forthcoming). Re-Examining the Darwinian Basis for Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic. Ethics, Policy and Environment.
    Many philosophers have become familiar with Leopold’s land ethic through the writings of J. Baird Callicott, who claims that Leopold bases his land ethic on a “protosociobiological” argument that Darwin gives in the Descent of Man. On this view, which has become the canonical interpretation, Leopold’s land ethic is based on extending our moral sentiments to ecosystems. I argue that the evidence weighs in favor of an alternative interpretation of Leopold; his reference to Darwin does not refer to the Descent, (...)
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  26. added 2015-02-15
    Tomasz Żuradzki (2015). The Preference Toward Identified Victims and Rescue Duties. American Journal of Bioethics 15 (2):25-27.
    Jeremy R. Garrett claims that the nature and scope of our rescue duties cannot be properly understood and addressed without reference to social context or institutional background conditions. In my comment I focus not on social or institutional but on psychological background conditions that are also necessary for the conceptualization of rescue cases. These additional conditions are of crucial importance since an entire paradigm of “rescue medicine” is founded, as Garret notices, on the powerful and immediate “impulse to rescue” (Garrett (...)
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  27. added 2015-02-14
    Barry Smith (2001). Husserlian Ecology. Human Ontology (Kyoto) 7:9-24.
    If mind is a creature of adaptation, then our standard theories of intentionality and of mental representation are in need of considerable revision. For such theories, deriving under Cartesian inspiration from the work of Brentano, Husserl and their followers, are context-free. They conceive the subject of mental experience in isolation from any surrounding physico-biological environment. Husserl sought in his later writings to find room for the surrounding world of human practical experience, and a similar expansion of concerns can be detected (...)
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  28. added 2015-02-11
    David Kalkman (forthcoming). Unifying Biology Under the Search for Mechanisms. Biology and Philosophy:1-12.
    In Search Of Mechanisms is a book about the methodology of biology. It is a work by Carl Craver and Lindley Darden, both of whom are well-known individually for their advocacy of mechanistic explanation—in the neurosciences and in the fields of genetics, cytology and molecular biology . Here, the two join forces to give a unified model of biological explanation, not limited to a particular area of biological enquiry, as rooted in the search for mechanisms.The objectives of the book are (...)
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  29. added 2015-02-11
    Chao Jiang, Paul D. Caccamo & Yves V. Brun (forthcoming). Mechanisms of Bacterial Morphogenesis: Evolutionary Cell Biology Approaches Provide New Insights. Bioessays:n/a-n/a.
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  30. added 2015-02-09
    John J. Fitzgerald (2014). Together Again, Naturally?: Pope Benedict XVI and the Fourteenth Dalai Lama on Our Environmental Responsibility. Journal of Catholic Social Thought 11 (2):465-500.
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  31. added 2015-02-07
    David A. Wells (forthcoming). The Extended Phenotype: A Comparison with Niche Construction Theory. Biology and Philosophy:1-21.
    While niche construction theory locates animal artefacts in their constructors’ environment, hence treating them as capable of exerting selective pressure on both the constructors and their descendants, the extended phenotype concept assimilates artefacts with their constructors’ genes. Analogous contrasts apply in the case of endoparasite and brood parasite genes influencing host behaviour. The explanatory power of these competing approaches are assessed by re-examining the core chapters of Richard Dawkins’ The Extended Phenotype. Because animal artefacts have multiple evolutionary consequences for their (...)
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  32. added 2015-02-07
    Alfonso Arroyo-Santos, Mark E. Olson & Francisco Vergara-Silva (2015). Practice Oriented Controversies and Borrowed Epistemic Support in Current Evolutionary Biology. The Case of Phylogeography. Perspectives on Science 23 (3):310-334.
    Philosophical treatments of scientific controversies usually focus on theory, excluding important practice related aspects. However, scientists in conflict often appeal to extra-theoretical and extra-empirical elements. To understand better the role that non-empirical elements play in scientific controversies, we introduce the notion of borrowed epistemic credibility, illustrating our proposal with a recent controversy in a field of evolutionary biology known as phylogeography. Our analysis shows how scientific controversies that spring from disagreements about methodological issues potentially involve deeperdebates regarding whatconstitutes good science, (...)
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  33. added 2015-02-07
    Ronald N. Giere (1994). A Review of Michael Lynch and Steve Woolgar, "Representation in Scientific Practice". [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 9 (1):113.
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  34. added 2015-02-07
    David L. Hull (1994). A Review of Paul Griffiths , "Trees of Life: Essays in Philosophy of Biology". [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 9 (1):105.
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  35. added 2015-02-07
    Ronald De Sousa (1992). Applying Sociobiology. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 7 (2):237.
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  36. added 2015-02-07
    Barbara L. Horan (1992). What Price Optimality? A Review of John Dupré , "The Latest on the Best: Essays on Evolution and Optimality". [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 7 (1):89.
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  37. added 2015-02-07
    Michael Bradie (1992). Darwin's Legacy. A Review of Robert J. Richards, "Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior". [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 7 (1):111.
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  38. added 2015-02-07
    M. D. Akhundov (1991). An American Looks at Soviet Science. A Review of Loren R. Graham, "Science, Philosophy and Human Behavior in the Soviet Union". [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 6 (3):363.
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  39. added 2015-02-07
    H. C. Plotkin (1991). The Testing of Evolutionary Epistemology. A Review of Gerald M. Edelman, "Neural Darwinism: The Theory of Neuronal Group Selection". [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 6 (4):481.
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  40. added 2015-02-07
    David L. Hull (1991). Common Sense and Science. A Review of Scott Atran, "Cognitive Foundations of Natural History: Toward an Anthropology of Science". [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 6 (4):467.
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  41. added 2015-02-07
    R. C. Lewontin (1991). The Structure and Confirmation of Evolution Theory. A Review of Elizabeth A. Lloyd, "The Structure and Confirmation of Evolutionary Theory". [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 6 (4):461.
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  42. added 2015-02-07
    Phillip R. Sloan (1991). Darwin: The Theory Years. A Review of Frederick Burkhardt and Sydney Smith , "The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, Volume III: 1844-46". [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 6 (1):107.
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  43. added 2015-02-07
    Ernst Mayr (1990). The Myth of the Non-Darwinian Revolution. A Review of Peter J. Bowler, "The Non-Darwinian Revolution, Reinterpreting a Historical Myth". [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 5 (1):85.
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  44. added 2015-02-07
    Deborah J. Coon (1990). Of Gold and Pyrite. An Essay Review of Daniel W. Bjork, "William James: The Center of His Vision". [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 5 (4):493.
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  45. added 2015-02-07
    Holmes Rolston (1990). Biology and Philosophy in Yellowstone. A Review of A. Chase, "Playing God in Yellowstone: The Destruction of America's First National Park". [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 5 (2):241.
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  46. added 2015-02-07
    Henryk Szarski (1990). The Validity of Biological Sciences. A Review of Rolf Sattler, "Biophilosophy. Analytic and Holistic Perspectives". [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 5 (1):93.
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  47. added 2015-02-07
    R. J. Hankinson (1990). A Kingdom of Ends. A Review of "Philosophical Issues in Aristotle's Biology", Edited by Allan Gotthelf and James G. Lennox. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 5 (1):101.
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  48. added 2015-02-07
    T. M. Caro (1989). Making a Dent in Speciesism. A Review of Paul W. Taylor, "Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics". [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 4 (3):353.
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  49. added 2015-02-07
    Ernan Mcmullin (1989). Having Fun with ETI. A Review of Edward Regis , "Extraterrestrials: Science and Alien Intelligence". [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 4 (1):97.
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  50. added 2015-02-07
    John Beatty (1988). The Wright Stuff: William Provine, "Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology". [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 3 (2):275.
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