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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 2014-09-25
    Spencer Phillips Hey (forthcoming). Heuristics and Meta-Heuristics in Scientific Judgment. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 2015.
    Despite the increasing recognition that heuristics may be involved in myriad scientific activities, much about how to use them prudently remains obscure. As typically defined, heuristics are efficient rules or procedures for converting complex problems into simpler ones. But this increased efficiency and problem-solving comes at the cost of a systematic bias. As Wimsatt (1980, 2007) showed, biased modeling heuristics can conceal errors, leading to poor decisions or inaccurate models. This liability to produce errors presents a fundamental challenge to the (...)
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  2. added 2014-09-25
    Charles T. Wolfe (2014). On the Role of Newtonian Analogies in Eighteenth-Century Life Science:Vitalism and Provisionally Inexplicable Explicative Devices. In Zvi Biener & Eric Schliesser (eds.), Newton and Empiricism. Oxford UP. 223-261.
    Newton’s impact on Enlightenment natural philosophy has been studied at great length, in its experimental, methodological and ideological ramifications. One aspect that has received fairly little attention is the role Newtonian “analogies” played in the formulation of new conceptual schemes in physiology, medicine, and life science as a whole. So-called ‘medical Newtonians’ like Pitcairne and Keill have been studied; but they were engaged in a more literal project of directly transposing, or seeking to transpose, Newtonian laws into quantitative models of (...)
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  3. added 2014-09-24
    Charles T. Wolfe (2014). The Organism as Ontological Go-Between. Hybridity, Boundaries and Degrees of Reality in its Conceptual History. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 1:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shps.
    The organism is neither a discovery like the circulation of the blood or the glycogenic function of the liver, nor a particular biological theory like epigenesis or preformationism. It is rather a concept which plays a series of roles – sometimes overt, sometimes masked – throughout the history of biology, and frequently in very normative ways, also shifting between the biological and the social. Indeed, it has often been presented as a key-concept in life science and the ‘theorization’ of Life, (...)
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  4. added 2014-09-23
    Thomas Pradeu (forthcoming). Galatea of the Microbes: Biological Identity as a Composite Reality. The Philosophers' Magazine.
    This paper shows that the identity of living things is a composite reality. It also suggests that the immune system constitutes a unifying process for the organism.
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  5. added 2014-09-23
    Brian Treanor (2014). Emplotting Virtue. SUNY Press.
    ethics does not stress the rule-based components of action guidance does not mean that virtue ethics has no room for such rules. Indeed, action- guiding rules are an important part of a fully elaborated virtue ethics. Two substantive claims ...
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  6. added 2014-09-17
    Jonathan Birch & James A. R. Marshall (2014). Queller's Separation Condition Explained and Defended. American Naturalist 184 (4):531-540.
    The theories of inclusive fitness and multilevel selection provide alternative perspectives on social evolution. The question of whether these perspectives are of equal generality remains a divisive issue. In an analysis based on the Price equation, Queller argued (by means of a principle he called the separation condition) that the two approaches are subject to the same limitations, arising from their fundamentally quantitative-genetical character. Recently, van Veelen et al. have challenged Queller’s results, using this as the basis for a broader (...)
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  7. added 2014-09-10
    Xabier Barandiaran & Alvaro Moreno (2008). Adaptivity: From Metabolism to Behavior. Adaptive Behavior 16 (5):325-344.
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  8. added 2014-09-09
    David Ludwig (forthcoming). Against the New Metaphysics of Race. Philosophy of Science.
    The aim of this article is to develop an argument against metaphysical debates about the existence of human races. I argue that the ontology of race is underdetermined by both empirical and non-empirical evidence due to a plurality of equally permissible candidate meanings of "race." Furthermore, I argue that this underdetermination leads to a deflationist diagnosis according to #hich disputes about the existence of human races are non-substantive verbal disputes. $hile this diagnosis resembles general deflationist strategies in contemporary metaphysics" I (...)
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  9. 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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  10. 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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  11. 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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  12. 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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  13. 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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  14. added 2014-08-12
    Hannes Rusch (2014). 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 281 (1794): 20141539.
    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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  15. 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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  16. 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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  17. 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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  18. added 2014-08-01
    Elisabeth A. Lloyd & Stephen Crowley, Essentialism and Human Nature. Encyclopedia of Life Sciences.
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  19. 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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  20. 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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  21. added 2014-07-14
    Gal Kober (2010). Biology Without Species: A Solution to the Species Problem. Dissertation, Boston University
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  22. 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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