Anya Plutynski University of Utah
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  • Faculty, University of Utah
  • PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 2001.

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Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Washington University in St. Louis
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23 items found.
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  1. Anya Plutynski (2014). Philosophy of Epidemiology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 46:107-111.
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  2. Anya Plutynski (2013). Cancer and the Goals of Integration. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C (4):466-476.
    Cancer is not one, but many diseases, and each is a product of a variety of causes acting (and interacting) at distinct temporal and spatial scales, or “levels” in the biological hierarchy. In part because of this diversity of cancer types and causes, there has been a diversity of models, hypotheses, and explanations of carcinogenesis. However, there is one model of carcinogenesis that seems to have survived the diversification of cancer types: the multi-stage model of carcinogenesis. This paper examines the (...)
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  3. Anya Plutynski (2012). Ethical Issues in Cancer Screening and Prevention. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 37 (3):310-323.
    November 2009’s announcement of the USPSTF’s recommendations for screening for breast cancer raised a firestorm of objections. Chief among them were that the panel had insufficiently valued patients’ lives or allowed cost considerations to influence recommendations. The publicity about the recommendations, however, often either simplified the actual content of the recommendations or bypassed significant methodological issues, which a philosophical examination of both the science behind screening recommendations and their import reveals. In this article, I discuss two of the leading ethical (...)
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  4. Anya Plutynski (2011). Four Problems of Abduction: A Brief History. Hopos 1 (2):227-248.
    Debates concerning the character, scope, and warrant of abductive inference have been active since Peirce first proposed that there was a third form of inference, distinct from induction and deduction. Abductive reasoning has been dubbed weak, incoherent, and even nonexistent. Part, at least, of the problem of articulating a clear sense of abductive inference is due to difficulty in interpreting Peirce. Part of the fault must lie with his critics, however. While this article will argue that Peirce indeed left a (...)
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  5. Anya Plutynski (2011). In Defense of Rationalist Science. In William Krieger (ed.), Science at the Frontiers: Perspectives on the History and Philosophy of Science.
    Mainstream philosophy of science has embraced an “empiricist” approach to scientific method. To be slightly more precise, I venture that most philosophers of science today would endorse the view that experience is the source of most scientific knowledge. The aim of this essay will be to challenge the consensus, by showing how we cannot and should not abandon all elements of the “rationalist” tradition, a tradition often identified with philosophers such as Descartes. There are several elements frequently identified with “rationalist” (...)
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  6. Anya Plutynski (2010). Review of Godfrey-Smith's Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection. [REVIEW] Philosophical Books 51 (2):83-101.
    Natural selection is an extremely powerful process – so powerful, in fact, that it is often tempting to deploy it in explaining phenomena as wide-ranging as the persistence of blue eyes, the origins or persistence of religious belief, or, the history of science. One long-standing debate among both critics and advocates of Darwin’s concerns the scope of Darwinian explanations, and how we are to draw the line. Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection is a detailed examination of this question. (...)
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  7. Anya Plutynski (2010). Should Intelligent Design Be Taught in Public School Science Classrooms? Science and Education 19 (6-8):779-795.
    A variety of different arguments have been offered for teaching ‘‘both sides’’ of the evolution/ID debate in public schools. This article reviews five of the most common types of arguments advanced by proponents of Intelligent Design and demonstrates how and why they are founded on confusion and misunderstanding. It argues on behalf of teaching evolution, and relegating discussion of ID to philosophy or history courses.
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  8. Anya Plutynski (2008). Explaining How and Explaining Why: Developmental and Evolutionary Explanations of Dominance. Biology and Philosophy 23 (3):363-381.
    There have been two different schools of thought on the evolution of dominance. On the one hand, followers of Wright [Wright S. 1929. Am. Nat. 63: 274–279, Evolution: Selected Papers by Sewall Wright, University of Chicago Press, Chicago; 1934. Am. Nat. 68: 25–53, Evolution: Selected Papers by Sewall Wright, University of Chicago Press, Chicago; Haldane J.B.S. 1930. Am. Nat. 64: 87–90; 1939. J. Genet. 37: 365–374; Kacser H. and Burns J.A. 1981. Genetics 97: 639–666] have defended the view that dominance (...)
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  9. Anya Plutynski (2008). &Quot;speciation and Macroevolution&Quot;. In Sahotra Sarkar & Anya Plutynski (eds.), Blackwell's Companion to Philosophy of Biology. Blackwell's/Routledge.
    Speciation is the process by which one or more species arises from a common ancestor, and “macroevolution” refers to patterns and processes at and above the species level – or, transitions in higher taxa, such as new families, phyla or genera. “Macroevolution” is contrasted with “microevolution,” evolutionary change within populations, due to migration, assortative mating, selection, mutation and drift. In the evolutionary synthesis of the 1930’s and 40’s, Haldane (1932), Dobzhansky (1937), Mayr (1942), and Simpson (1944) argued that the origin (...)
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  10. Anya Plutynski (2008). The Rise and Fall of the Adaptive Landscape? Biology and Philosophy 23 (5):605-623.
    The discussion of the adaptive landscape in the philosophical literature appears to be divided along the following lines. On the one hand, some claim that the adaptive landscape is either “uninterpretable” or incoherent. On the other hand, some argue that the adaptive landscape has been an important heuristic, or tool in the service of explaining, as well as proposing and testing hypotheses about evolutionary change. This paper attempts to reconcile these two views.
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  11. Sahotra Sarkar & Anya Plutynski (eds.) (2008). A Companion to the Philosophy of Biology. Blackwell Pub..
    Comprised of essays by top scholars in the field, this volume offers concise overviews of philosophical issues raised by biology. Brings together a team of eminent scholars to explore the philosophical issues raised by biology Addresses traditional and emerging topics, spanning molecular biology and genetics, evolution, developmental biology, immunology, ecology, mind and behaviour, neuroscience, and experimentation Begins with a thorough introduction to the field Goes beyond previous treatments that focused only on evolution to give equal attention to other areas, such (...)
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  12. Sahotra Sarkar & Anya Plutynski (eds.) (2008). Blackwell's Companion to Philosophy of Biology. Blackwell's/Routledge.
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  13. Anya Plutynski (2007). Drift: A Historical and Conceptual Overview. Biological Theory 2 (2):156-167.
    There are several different ways in which chance affects evolutionary change. That all of these processes are called “random genetic drift” is in part a due to common elements across these different processes, but is also a product of historical borrowing of models and language across different levels of organization in the biological hierarchy. A history of the concept of drift will reveal the variety of contexts in which drift has played an explanatory role in biology, and will shed light (...)
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  14. Anya Plutynski (2007). A Philosopher Goes Wild. [REVIEW] Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 38 (1):289-296.
    Sahotra Sarkar’s Biodiversity and environmental philosophy, An introduction is an important and timely book. The book is unique in that it is genuinely interdisciplinary: Sarkar is not only an observer, but also an active participant in the new field of conservation biology, and so, his book not only reviews the best recent science, but also advances it. The book is thus exemplary of both a naturalized approach to philosophy of science and a scientifically informed approach to environmental ethics. The book (...)
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  15. Anya Plutynski (2006). What Was Fisher's Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection and What Was It For? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 37 (1):59-82.
    Fisher’s ‘fundamental theorem of natural selection’ is notoriously abstract, and, no less notoriously, many take it to be false. In this paper, I explicate the theorem, examine the role that it played in Fisher’s general project for biology, and analyze why it was so very fundamental for Fisher. I defend Ewens (1989) and Lessard (1997) in the view that the theorem is in fact a true theorem if, as Fisher claimed, ‘the terms employed’ are ‘used strictly as defined’ (1930, p. (...)
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  16. Anya Plutynski (2006). Strategies of Model Building in Population Genetics. Philosophy of Science 73 (5):755-764.
    In 1966, Richard Levins argued that there are different strategies in model building in population biology. In this paper, I reply to Orzack and Sober’s (1993) critiques of Levins, and argue that his views on modeling strategies apply also in the context of evolutionary genetics. In particular, I argue that there are different ways in which models are used to ask and answer questions about the dynamics of evolutionary change, prospectively and retrospectively, in classical versus molecular evolutionary genetics. Further, I (...)
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  17. Anya Plutynski (2005). Explanatory Unification and the Early Synthesis. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (3):595-609.
    The object of this paper is to reply to Morrison's ([2000]) claim that while ‘structural unity’ was achieved at the level of the mathematical models of population genetics in the early synthesis, there was explanatory disunity. I argue to the contrary, that the early synthesis effected by the founders of theoretical population genetics was unifying and explanatory both. Defending this requires a reconsideration of Morrison's notion of explanation. In Morrison's view, all and only answers to ‘why’ questions which include the (...)
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  18. Anya Plutynski (2005). Parsimony and the Fisher–Wright Debate. Biology and Philosophy 20 (4):697-713.
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  19. Anya Plutynski (2004). Explanation in Classical Population Genetics. Philosophy of Science 71 (5):1201-1214.
    The recent literature in philosophy of biology has drawn attention to the different sorts of explanations proffered in the biological sciences—we have molecular, biomedical, and evolutionary explanations. Do these explanations all have a common structure or relation that they seek to capture? This paper will answer in the negative. I defend a pluralistic and pragmatic approach to explanation. Using examples from classical population genetics, I argue that formal demonstrations, and even strictly “mathematical truths,” may serve as explanatory in different historical (...)
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  20. Anya Plutynski (2004). Neutralism. In Christopher Stephens & Mohan Matthen (eds.), Elsevier Handbook in Philosophy of Biology. Elsevier.
    In 1968, Motoo Kimura submitted a note to Nature entitled “Evolutionary Rate at the Molecular Level,” in which he proposed what has since become known as the neutral theory of molecular evolution. This is the view that the majority of evolutionary changes at the molecular level are caused by random drift of selectively neutral or nearly neutral alleles. Kimura was not proposing that random drift explains all evolutionary change. He does not challenge the view that natural selection explains adaptive evolution, (...)
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  21. Anya Plutynski (2004). Review of Sandra Mitchell, Biological Complexity and Integrative Pluralism. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2004 (4).
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  22. Anya Plutynski (2004). Seeing the Forst for the Trees. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 19 (2):299-303.
    Roderic Page’s new book, Tangled Trees: Phylogeny, Cospeciation and Coevolution (2003), is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in either methodological issues in systematics, or how organisms shape one another’s selective environments. “Cospeciation,” for the uninitiated, is the concurrent speciation of two or more lineages that are ecologically associated (e.g. host-parasite associations, as well as mutualistic or symbiotic associations). “Coevolution,” in contrast, is the reciprocal adaptation of hosts and parasite taxa. The main focus of Page’s book is thus when, how (...)
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  23. Anya Plutynski (2001). Modeling Evolution in Theory and Practice. Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3):S225-.
    This paper uses a number of examples of diverse types and functions of models in evolutionary biology to argue that the demarcation between theory and practice, or "theory model" and "data model," is often difficult to make. It is shown how both mathematical and laboratory models function as plausibility arguments, existence proofs, and refutations in the investigation of questions about the pattern and process of evolutionary history. I consider the consequences of this for the semantic approach to theories and theory (...)
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