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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 2015-05-27
    Alfred Gierer (1981). Generation of Biological Patterns and Form: Some Physical, Mathematical and Logical Aspects. Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology 37 (1):1-48.
    While many different mechanisms contribute to the generation of spatial order in biological development, the formation of morphogenetic fields which in turn direct cell responses giving rise to pattern and form are of major importance and essential for embryogenesis and regeneration. Most likely the fields represent concentration patterns of substances produced by molecular kinetics. Short range autocatalytic activation in conjunction with longer range “lateral” inhibition or depletion effects is capable of generating such patterns (Gierer and Meinhardt, 1972). Non-linear reactions are (...)
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  2. added 2015-05-25
    Alfred Gierer (2012). The Hydra Model - a Model for What? International Journal of Developmental Biology 56:437-445.
    The introductory personal remarks refer to my motivations for choosing research projects, and for moving from physics to molecular biology and then to development, with Hydra as a model system. Historically, Trembley’s discovery of Hydra regeneration in 1744 was the begin¬ning of developmental biology as we understand it, with passionate debates about preformation versus de novo generation, mechanisms versus organisms. In fact, seemingly conflicting bottom-up and top-down concepts are both required in combination to understand development. In modern terms, this means (...)
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  3. added 2015-05-25
    Alfred Gierer & Hans Meinhardt (1972). A Theory of Biological Pattern Formation. Kybernetik, Continued as Biological Cybernetics 12 (1):30 - 39.
    The paper addresses the formation of striking patterns within originally near-homogenous tissue, the process prototypical for embryology, and represented in particularly purist form by cut sections of hydra regenerating, by internal reorganisation of the pre-existing tissue, a complete animal with head and foot. The essential requirements are autocatalytic, self-enhancing activation, combined with inhibitory or depletion effects of wider range – “lateral inhibition”. Not only de-novo-pattern formation, but also well known, striking features of developmental regulation such as induction, inhibition, and proportion (...)
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  4. added 2015-05-23
    Michael Ruse (2006). Discussion. Biological Theory 1 (4):402-403.
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  5. added 2015-05-23
    Gerd Müller, Manfred Laubichler, Peter Hammerstein, Linnda Caporael & Werner Callebaut (2006). D-618. Biological Theory 1 (4):331-332.
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  6. added 2015-05-22
    Rachael L. Brown (forthcoming). Why Development Matters. Biology and Philosophy:1-11.
    Günter Wagner’s Homology, Genes, and Evolutionary Innovation is a compelling, and empirically well-supported account of the evolution of character identity and character origination which emphasizes the importance of homology and novelty as central explananda for 21st century evolutionary biology . In this essay review, I focus on the similarities and differences between the structuralist picture of evolutionary biology advocated by Wagner, and that presented by standard evolutionary theory. First, I outline the ways in which Wagner’s genetic theory of homology diverges (...)
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  7. added 2015-05-22
    Donato Bergandi & Patrick Blandin (2012). From the Protection of Nature to Sustainable Development: The Genesis of an Ethical and Political Oxymoron (Engl. Trans. De la Protection de la Nature au Développement Durable : Genèse D’Un Oxymore Éthique Et Politique). Revue d'Histoire des Sciences 65 (1):103-142 (French paper).
    Sustainable development is rooted in the history of two divergent movements – for the preservation of nature, and for the conservation of natural resources – and of their relationship with the natural sciences. Ecology has played a central role in this history. As a societal paradigm that is at once ecological, political, and economic, sustainable development is supposed to embody ideal policy for all societies, and to overcome the opposition between these two diverging views of man‑nature relationships. An analysis of (...)
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  8. added 2015-05-16
    Marc Artiga & Manolo Martínez (forthcoming). The Organizational Account of Function is an Etiological Account of Function. Acta Biotheoretica.
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  9. added 2015-05-16
    Susan NoorMohammadi (forthcoming). The Role of Poetic Image in Gaston Bachelard’s Contribution to Architecture in Advance. Environmental Philosophy.
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  10. added 2015-05-15
    Elena Aronova (2007). Erratum To: Karl Popper and Lamarckism. Biological Theory 2 (2):213-213.
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  11. added 2015-05-14
    Agustín Mercado-Reyes, Pablo Padilla Longoria & Alfonso Arroyo-Santos (forthcoming). Objects and Processes: Two Notions for Understanding Biological Information. Journal of Theoretical Biology.
    In spite of being ubiquitous in life sciences, the concept of information is harshly criticized. Uses of the concept other than those derived from Shannon's theory are denounced as pernicious metaphors. We perform a computational experiment to explore whether Shannon's information is adequate to describe the uses of said concept in commonplace scientific practice. Our results show that semantic sequences do not have unique complexity values different from the value of meaningless sequences. This result suggests that quantitative theoretical frameworks do (...)
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  12. added 2015-05-14
    Mark E. Olson & Alfonso Arroyo-Santos (2015). How to Study Adaptation (and Why to Do It That Way). Quarterly Review of Biology 90 (2):167-191.
    Some adaptationist explanations are regarded as maximally solid and others fanciful just-so stories. Just-so stories are explanations based on very little evidence. Lack of evidence leads to circular-sounding reasoning: “this trait was shaped by selection in unseen ancestral populations and this selection must have occurred because the trait is present.” Well-supported adaptationist explanations include evidence that is not only abundant but selected from comparative, populational, and optimality perspectives, the three adaptationist subdisciplines. Each subdiscipline obtains its broad relevance in evolutionary biology (...)
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  13. added 2015-05-14
    Linda Speybroeck & Luis Ramírez-Trejo (2010). Epigenetics: A Survey on Unorthodox Inheritance. Biological Theory 5 (1):96-99.
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  14. added 2015-05-14
    Werner Callebaut (2010). Divided We Stand. Biological Theory 5 (4):295-295.
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  15. added 2015-05-14
    Werner Callebaut (2010). Risky Business…. Biological Theory 5 (2):101-101.
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  16. added 2015-05-14
    Davide Vecchi (2010). Risky Business. Biological Theory 5 (2):187-193.
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  17. added 2015-05-14
    Gregory Radick (2010). Evidence-Based Darwinism. Biological Theory 5 (3):289-291.
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  18. added 2015-05-14
    Werner Callebaut & Manfred Laubichler (2010). The Moody’s Virus Attacks the U.S. National Science Board. Biological Theory 5 (1):1-2.
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  19. added 2015-05-14
    Maureen O’Malley (2010). What Microbes Can Do: A Sensory Guide to Microbiology. Biological Theory 5 (2):182-186.
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  20. added 2015-05-14
    Henrique Lins de Barros, Ambrosio García Leal & Jorge Wagensberg (2010). Individuals Versus Individualities: A Darwinian Approach. Biological Theory 5 (1):87-95.
    The idea that natural selection acts on many levels—and not only at the level of organisms or individual genes—is increasingly accepted among biologists. However, it is not easy to reconcile this idea with the strictly “individualistic” conception of the evolutionary process that has always characterized Darwinian thought. Moreover, the individuality of some forms of life is a vague concept and therefore controversial. This is the case of Candidatus Magnetoglobus multicellularis, whose discovery immediately inspired the following question: Does the concept of (...)
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  21. added 2015-05-14
    Marion Blute (2010). Evolution’s First Law? Biological Theory 5 (2):194-197.
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  22. added 2015-05-14
    Jay Odenbaugh & Matt Haber (2009). The Edges and Boundaries of Biological Objects. Biological Theory 4 (3):219-224.
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  23. added 2015-05-14
    Michel Morange (2009). Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Synthetic Biology. Biological Theory 4 (4):311-313.
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  24. added 2015-05-14
    Werner Callebaut (2009). Not the Only Game in Town. Biological Theory 4 (2):107-111.
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  25. added 2015-05-14
    Katrin Schaefer & Fred Bookstein (2009). Measuring Biology. Biological Theory 4 (1):1-5.
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  26. added 2015-05-14
    Werner Callebaut & Manfred Laubichler (2008). Formalizing Biology. Biological Theory 3 (1):1-2.
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  27. added 2015-05-14
    Brian Hall & Manfred Laubichler (2008). Conrad Hal Waddington: Forefather of Theoretical EvoDevo. Biological Theory 3 (3):185-187.
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  28. added 2015-05-14
    Werner Callebaut (2008). Fractals and Multi-Scale Modeling in Biology. Biological Theory 3 (4):291-292.
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  29. added 2015-05-14
    Manfred Laubichler & Werner Callebaut (2007). General Biology” Old and New: The Challenges Facing Biological Explanation. Biological Theory 2 (4):329-331.
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  30. added 2015-05-14
    Kim Sterelny (2007). Rethinking Inheritance. Biological Theory 2 (3):215-217.
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  31. added 2015-05-14
    Sara Shettleworth (2006). What’s New? Biological Theory 1 (2):205-206.
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  32. added 2015-05-14
    Peter Taylor (2006). What Can We Do? Biological Theory 1 (2):180-181.
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  33. added 2015-05-14
    Gerd Müller, Manfred Laubichler, Peter Hammerstein, Linnda Caporael & Werner Callebaut (2006). The Problem of Origins. Biological Theory 1 (2):111-111.
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  34. added 2015-05-14
    Jason Robert (2006). Fred L. Bookstein—My Unexpected Journey in Applied Biomathematics. Biological Theory 1 (2):179-180.
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  35. added 2015-05-11
    Hannes Rusch (2015). Ancestral Kinship Patterns Substantially Reduce the Negative Effect of Increasing Group Size on Incentives for Public Goods Provision. University of Cologne, Working Paper Series in Economics 82.
    Phenomena like meat sharing in hunter-gatherers, self-sacrifice in intergroup conflicts, and voluntary contribution to public goods provision in laboratory experiments have led to the development of numerous theories on the evolution of altruistic in-group beneficial behavior in humans. Many of these theories abstract away from the effects of kinship on the incentives for public goods provision, though. Here, it is investigated analytically how genetic relatedness changes the incentive structure of that paradigmatic game which is conventionally used to model and experimentally (...)
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  36. added 2015-05-10
    Daniel C. Burnston, Benjamin Sheredos, Adele Abrahamsen & William Bechtel (forthcoming). Scientists' Use of Diagrams in Developing Mechanistic Explanations: A Case Study From Chronobiology. Pragmatics and Cognition.
  37. added 2015-05-07
    Mathieu Charbonneau (forthcoming). Mapping Complex Social Transmission: Technical Constraints on the Evolution of Cultures. Biology and Philosophy:1-20.
    Social transmission is at the core of cultural evolutionary theory. It occurs when a demonstrator uses mental representations to produce some public displays which in turn allow a learner to acquire similar mental representations. Although cultural evolutionists do not dispute this view of social transmission, they typically abstract away from the multistep nature of the process when they speak of cultural variants at large, thereby referring both to variation and evolutionary change in mental representations as well as in their corresponding (...)
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  38. added 2015-05-06
    Pierrick Bourrat (2015). Levels, Time and Fitness in Evolutionary Transitions in Individuality. Philosophy and Theory in Biology 7.
    Yes, fitness is the central concept of evolutionary biology, but it is an elusive concept. Almost everyone who looks at it seriously comes out in a different place.
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  39. added 2015-05-06
    Stefan Linquist, Brent Saylor, Karl Cottenie, Tyler A. Elliott, Stefan C. Kremer & T. Ryan Gregory (2013). Distinguishing Ecological From Evolutionary Approaches to Transposable Elements. Biological Reviews 88 (3):573- 584.
    Considerable variation exists not only in the kinds of transposable elements (TEs) occurring within the genomes of different species, but also in their abundance and distribution. Noting a similarity to the assortment of organisms among ecosystems, some researchers have called for an ecological approach to the study of transposon dynamics. However, there are several ways to adopt such an approach, and it is sometimes unclear what an ecological perspective will add to the existing co-evolutionary framework for explaining transposon-host interactions. This (...)
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  40. added 2015-05-04
    Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (forthcoming). Race and Biology. In Linda Alcoff, Luvell Anderson & Paul Taylor (eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Race. Routledge.
    The ontology of race is replete with moral, political, and scientific implications. This book chapter surveys proposals about the reality of race, distinguishing among three levels of analysis: biogenomic, biological, and social. The relatively homogeneous structure of human genetic variation casts doubt upon the practice of postulating distinct biogenomic races that might be mapped onto socially recognized race categories.
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  41. added 2015-05-04
    Argyris Arnellos & Alvaro Moreno (2015). Multicellular Agency: An Organizational View. Biology and Philosophy 30 (3):333-357.
    We argue that the transition from unicellular to multicellular systems raises important conceptual challenges for understanding agency. We compare several MC systems displaying different forms of collective behavior, and we analyze whether these actions can be considered organismically integrated and attributable to the whole. We distinguish between a ‘constitutive’ and an ‘interactive’ dimension of organizational complexity, and we argue that MC agency requires a radical entanglement between the related processes which we call “the constitutive-interactive closure principle”. We explain in detail (...)
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  42. added 2015-05-01
    Michael Marder (forthcoming). The Sense of Seeds, or Seminal Events in Advance. Environmental Philosophy.
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  43. added 2015-04-29
    Cintia A. Oi, Jelle S. van Zweden, Ricardo C. Oliveira, Annette Van Oystaeyen, Fabio S. Nascimento & Tom Wenseleers (forthcoming). The Origin and Evolution of Social Insect Queen Pheromones: Novel Hypotheses and Outstanding Problems. Bioessays:n/a-n/a.
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  44. added 2015-04-29
    James G. Lennox (2014). Aristotle on the Emergence of Material Complexity: Meteorology IV and Aristotle’s Biology. Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 4 (2):272-305.
    In this article I defend an account of Meteorology IV as providing a material-level causal account of the emergence of uniform materials with a wide range of dispositional properties not found at the level of the four elements—the emergence of material complexity. I then demonstrate that this causal account is used in the Generation of Animals and Parts of Animals as part of the explanation of the generation of the uniform parts (tissues) and of their role in providing nonuniform parts (...)
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  45. added 2015-04-29
    Tiberiu Popa (2014). Scientific Method in Meteorology IV. Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 4 (2):306-34.
    This article explores the main aspects of Aristotle’s scientific method in Meteorology IV. Dispositional properties such as solidifiability or combustibility play a dominant role in Meteor. IV (a) in virtue of their central place in the generic division of homoeomers, based on successive differentiation and multiple differentiae, and (b) in virtue of their role in revealing otherwise undetectable characteristics of uniform materials (composition and physical structure). While Aristotle often starts with accounts of ingredients and their ratio (e.g., solids that contain (...)
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  46. added 2015-04-28
    Joel Hagen (2015). Camels, Cormorants, and Kangaroo Rats: Integration and Synthesis in Organismal Biology After World War II. Journal of the History of Biology 48 (2):169-199.
    During the decades following World War II diverse groups of American biologists established a variety of distinctive approaches to organismal biology. Rhetorically, organismal biology could be used defensively to distinguish established research traditions from perceived threats from newly emerging fields such as molecular biology. But, organismal biologists were also interested in integrating biological disciplines and using a focus on organisms to synthesize levels of organization from molecules and cells to populations and communities. Part of this broad movement was the development (...)
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  47. added 2015-04-28
    Jong-Hoon Kim (2015). HIV Transmissions by Stage and Sex Role in Long-Term Concurrent Sexual Partnerships. Acta Biotheoretica 63 (1):33-54.
    Most mathematical models used to examine the role of different stages of human immunodeficiency virus infection unrealistically assume that HIV is transmitted through one-off contacts or that transmission rates are the same between males and females. We sought to examine whether inferences from previous models are robust to the relaxation of those unrealistic assumptions. We developed a model of HIV transmissions through sexual partnerships assuming that sexual partnerships have variable duration, sexual partnerships are concurrent, and the male-to-female transmission rate is (...)
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  48. added 2015-04-28
    Giuditta Parolini (2015). The Emergence of Modern Statistics in Agricultural Science: Analysis of Variance, Experimental Design and the Reshaping of Research at Rothamsted Experimental Station, 1919–1933. Journal of the History of Biology 48 (2):301-335.
    During the twentieth century statistical methods have transformed research in the experimental and social sciences. Qualitative evidence has largely been replaced by quantitative results and the tools of statistical inference have helped foster a new ideal of objectivity in scientific knowledge. The paper will investigate this transformation by considering the genesis of analysis of variance and experimental design, statistical methods nowadays taught in every elementary course of statistics for the experimental and social sciences. These methods were developed by the mathematician (...)
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  49. added 2015-04-28
    Doug Russell (2015). Toward a Pragmatist Epistemology: Arthur O. Lovejoy’s and H. S. Jennings’s Biophilosophical Responses to Neovitalism, 1909–1914. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 48 (1):37-66.
    The sustained interdisciplinary debate about neovitalism between two Johns Hopkins University colleagues, philosopher Arthur O. Lovejoy and experimental geneticist H. S. Jennings, in the period 1911–1914, was the basis for their theoretical reconceptualization of scientific knowledge as contingent and necessarily incomplete in its account of nature. Their response to Hans Driesch’s neovitalist concept of entelechy, and his challenge to the continuity between biology and the inorganic sciences, resulted in a historically significant articulation of genetics and philosophy. This study traces the (...)
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  50. added 2015-04-28
    Mark L. Siegal, Orkun S. Soyer & Maureen O'Malley (2015). Announcement by the Owner and the Publisher of Biological Theory. Biological Theory 10 (1):5-5.
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1 — 50 / 223