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Philosophy of Biology

Edited by John Wilkins (University of Sydney, University of Melbourne)
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  1. Mirit I. Aladjem & Haiqing Fu (2014). A New Light on DNA Replication From the Inactive X Chromosome. Bioessays 36 (6):591-597.
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    Developmental Biology
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  2. Sergio Balari & Guillermo Lorenzo (forthcoming). The End of Development. Biological Theory.
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  3. Xabier Barandiaran & Alvaro Moreno (2008). Adaptivity: From Metabolism to Behavior. Adaptive Behavior 16 (5):325-344.
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  4. Austin Booth (2014). Symbiosis, Selection, and Individuality. Biology and Philosophy 29 (5):657-673.
    A recent development in biology has been the growing acceptance that holobionts, entities comprised of symbiotic microbes and their host organisms, are widespread in nature. There is agreement that holobionts are evolved outcomes, but disagreement on how to characterize the operation of natural selection on them. The aim of this paper is to articulate the contours of the disagreement. I explain how two distinct foundational accounts of the process of natural selection give rise to competing views about evolutionary individuality.
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  5. Hannes Braberg, Erica A. Moehle, Michael Shales, Christine Guthrie & Nevan J. Krogan (forthcoming). Genetic Interaction Analysis of Point Mutations Enables Interrogation of Gene Function at a Residue-Level Resolution. Bioessays:n/a-n/a.
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  6. Robert Brandon & Leonore Fleming (2014). Drift Sometimes Dominates Selection, and Vice Versa: A Reply to Clatterbuck, Sober and Lewontin. Biology and Philosophy 29 (4):577-585.
    Clatterbuck et al. (Biol Philos 28: 577–592, 2013) argue that there is no fact of the matter whether selection dominates drift or vice versa in any particular case of evolution. Their reasons are not empirically based; rather, they are purely conceptual. We show that their conceptual presuppositions are unmotivated, unnecessary and overly complex. We also show that their conclusion runs contrary to current biological practice. The solution is to recognize that evolution involves a probabilistic sampling process, and that drift is (...)
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  7. Anneke Brümmer & Jean Hausser (2014). MicroRNA Binding Sites in the Coding Region of mRNAs: Extending the Repertoire of Post-Transcriptional Gene Regulation. Bioessays 36 (6):617-626.
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  8. Arcadi Cipponi & David M. Thomas (2014). Stress-Induced Cellular Adaptive Strategies: Ancient Evolutionarily Conserved Programs as New Anticancer Therapeutic Targets. Bioessays 36 (6):552-560.
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  9. Sandra Citi & John Kendrick‐Jones (1987). Regulation of Non‐Muscle Myosin Structure and Function. Bioessays 7 (4):155-159.
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  10. Catheleyne D'hondt, Raf Ponsaerts, Humbert De Smedt, Geert Bultynck & Bernard Himpens (2009). Pannexins, Distant Relatives of the Connexin Family with Specific Cellular Functions? Bioessays 31 (9):953-974.
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  11. Juliet M. Daniel & Albert B. Reynolds (1997). Tyrosine Phosphorylation and Cadherin/Catenin Function. Bioessays 19 (10):883-891.
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  12. 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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  13. Kay S. Grennan, Chao Chen, Elliot S. Gershon & Chunyu Liu (2014). Molecular Network Analysis Enhances Understanding of the Biology of Mental Disorders. Bioessays 36 (6):606-616.
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  14. The Biology and Gender Study Group, Athena Beldecos, Sarah Bailey, Scott Gilbert, Karen Hicks, Lori Kenschaft, Nancy Niemczyk, Rebecca Rosenberg, Stephanie Schaertel & Andrew Wedel (1988). The Importance of Feminist Critique for Contemporary Cell Biology. Hypatia 3 (1):61 - 76.
    Biology is seen not merely as a privileged oppressor of women but as a co-victim of masculinist social assumptions. We see feminist critique as one of the normative controls that any scientist must perform whenever analyzing data, and we seek to demonstrate what has happened when this control has not been utilized. Narratives of fertilization and sex determination traditionally have been modeled on the cultural patterns of male/female interaction, leading to gender associations being placed on cells and their components. We (...)
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  15. J. B. S. Haldane (1934). Quantum Mechanics as a Basis for Philosophy. Philosophy of Science 1 (1):78-98.
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  16. Stuart Hameroff, Consciousness, Microtubules and the Quantum World.
    Hameroff: I became interested in understanding consciousness as an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh in the late 60's. In my third year of medical school at Hahnemann in Philadelphia I did a research elective in professor Ben Kahn's hematology-oncology lab. They were studying various types of malignant blood cells, and I became interested in mitosis-looking under the microscope at normal and abnormal cell division. I became fascinated by centrioles and mitotic spindles pulling apart the chromosomes, doing this little dance, (...)
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  17. Gábor Holló (forthcoming). Animals Are Both Radially and Bilaterally Symmetrical: Accommodating Seemingly Mutually Exclusive Paradigms. Bioessays:n/a-n/a.
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  18. Chang Huang & Bing Zhu (2014). H3.3 Turnover: A Mechanism to Poise Chromatin for Transcription, or a Response to Open Chromatin? Bioessays 36 (6):579-584.
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  19. Abir Igamberdiev (ed.) (2011). Physics and Logic of Life. Nova Science Pub..
    This book discusses the basic foundations of theoretical biology. Contrary to the objects of theoretical physics, the biological object contains a kind of ontological duality and refers to a fundamental wholeness of a living system. The rational interpretation of wholeness is considered by the author as a true basis for fundamental principles of development of theoretical biology and for understanding its link to physics, to psychology, and to semiotics. The rational holistic approach in application to theoretical biology can be substantiated (...)
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  20. Brian D. Josephson (1988). Limits to the Universality of Quantum Mechanics. Foundations of Physics 18 (12):1195-1204.
    Niels Bohr's arguments indicating the non-applicability of quantum methodology to the study of the ultimate details of life, given in his bookAtomic Physics and Human Knowledge, conflict with the commonly held opposite view. The bases for the usual beliefs are examined and shown to have little validity; significant differences do exist between the living organism and the type of system studied successfully in the physics laboratory. Dealing with living organisms in quantum-mechanical terms with the same degree of rigor as is (...)
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  21. 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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  22. 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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  23. 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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  24. Franz Kövessi (1938). Über Die Funktionen, Die Die Gesetzmässige Entwicklung der Gärungspilze (Saccharomyces Spec.) Ausdrücken Und Zusammenfassung Anderer Resultate. Acta Biotheoretica 4 (2).
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  25. Marc Lange (2004). The Autonomy of Functional Biology: A Reply to Rosenberg. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 19 (1):93-109.
    Rosenberg has recently argued that explanations supplied by (what he calls) functional biology are mere promissory notes for macromolecular adaptive explanations. Rosenberg's arguments currently constitute one of the most substantial challenges to the autonomy, irreducibility, and indispensability of the explanations supplied by functional biology. My responses to Rosenberg's arguments will generate a novel account of the autonomy of functional biology. This account will turn on the relations between counterfactuals, scientific explanations, and natural laws. Crucially, in their treatment of the laws' (...)
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  26. 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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  27. Donald C. Mikulecky (1996). Complexity, Communication Between Cells, and Identifying the Functional Components of Living Systems: Some Observations. Acta Biotheoretica 44 (3-4).
    The concept of complexity has become very important in theoretical biology. It is a many faceted concept and too new and ill defined to have a universally accepted meaning. This review examines the development of this concept from the point of view of its usefulness as a criteria for the study of living systems to see what it has to offer as a new approach. In particular, one definition of complexity has been put forth which has the necessary precision and (...)
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  28. Andrew Moore (2014). On the State of Scientific English and How to Improve It - Part 6: The Route to Much Less Trouble and Many Fewer Problems? Bioessays 36 (6):541-541.
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  29. Melvin L. Moss (1968). A Theoretical Analysis of the Functional Matrix. Acta Biotheoretica 18 (1-4).
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  30. 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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  31. Vidyanand Nanjundiah (forthcoming). Social Groups Go Places. Biological Theory.
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  32. Per Nilsson & Takaomi C. Saido (2014). Dual Roles for Autophagy: Degradation and Secretion of Alzheimer's Disease Aβ Peptide. Bioessays 36 (6):570-578.
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  33. Ralph A. Nixon (2014). Alzheimer Neurodegeneration, Autophagy, and Abeta Secretion: The Ins and Outs (Comment on DOI 10.1002/Bies.201400002). Bioessays 36 (6):547-547.
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  34. Ludovic Orlando (2014). A 400,000-Year-Old Mitochondrial Genome Questions Phylogenetic Relationships Amongst Archaic Hominins. Bioessays 36 (6):598-605.
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  35. Jun Otsuka (forthcoming). Using Causal Models to Integrate Proximate and Ultimate Causation. Biology and Philosophy:1-19.
    Ernst Mayr’s classical work on the nature of causation in biology has had a huge influence on biologists as well as philosophers. Although his distinction between proximate and ultimate causation recently came under criticism from those who emphasize the role of development in evolutionary processes, the formal relationship between these two notions remains elusive. Using causal graph theory, this paper offers a unified framework to systematically translate a given “proximate” causal structure into an “ultimate” evolutionary response, and illustrates evolutionary implications (...)
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  36. Mary E. Power (2013). Resilience Practice: Building Capacity to Absorb Disturbance and Maintain Function. BioScience 63 (7):596-597.
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  37. Yuval Ramot & Ralf Paus (forthcoming). Harnessing Neuroendocrine Controls of Keratin Expression: A New Therapeutic Strategy for Skin Diseases? Bioessays:n/a-n/a.
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  38. Charles Rathkopf (2013). Localization and Intrinsic Function. Philosophy of Science 80 (1):1-21.
    This paper describes one style of functional analysis commonly used in the neurosciences called task-bound functional analysis. The concept of function invoked by this style of analysis is distinctive in virtue of the dependence relations it bears to transient environmental properties. It is argued that task-bound functional analysis cannot explain the presence of structural properties in nervous systems. An alternative concept of neural function is introduced that draws on the theoretical neuroscience literature, and an argument is given to show that (...)
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  39. 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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  40. Robert C. Richardson (2003). Engineering Design and Adaptation. Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1277-1288.
    Reverse engineering is a matter of inferring adaptive function from structure. The utility of reverse engineering for evolutionary biology has been a matter of controversy. I offer a simple taxonomy of the uses of engineering design in assessing adaptation, with a variety of illustrations. The plausibility of applications of engineering design reflects the specific way the models are elaborated and derived.
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  41. Marvin B. Scott (1966). Functional Foibles and the Analysis of Social Change. Inquiry 9 (1-4):205 – 214.
    Functional analysis is the major theoretical perspective of contemporary sociology. Although many fruitful studies of social structure have resulted from the application of this perspective, it has been notably sterile in coping with questions of social change. Two major shortcomings of the functionalist view of change are here examined. The first type of shortcoming might be called 'evolutionary hangovers'. Under this heading we may include 'functional ahistoricism' and a 'commitment to progress'. The second major shortcoming refers to weaknesses of functional (...)
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  42. Günter Seyfried, Lei Pei & Markus Schmidt (2014). European Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Biology: Beyond the Hope, Hype and Horror. Bioessays 36 (6):548-551.
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  43. A. Steiner & I. Walker (1990). The Pattern of Population Growth as a Function of Redundancy and Repair. Acta Biotheoretica 38 (2).
    A basic model of hierarchical structure, expressed by simple, linear differential equations, shows that the pattern of population growth is essentially determined by conditions of redundancy in the sub-structure of individuals. There does not exist any possible combination between growth rate and accident rate that could balance population numbers and/or the level of redundancy within the population; all possible combinations either lead to extinction or to positive population growth with a decline of the fraction of individuals with redundant substructure. Declining (...)
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