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Forthcoming articles
  1. Mirko Farina (forthcoming). On the Active Boundaries of Vision. Biology and Philosophy.
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  2. Pierre-Luc Germain, Emanuele Ratti & Federico Boem (Forthcoming). Junk or Functional DNA? ENCODE and the Function Controversy. Biology and Philosophy:1-25.
    In its last round of publications in September 2012, the Encyclopedia Of DNA Elements (ENCODE) assigned a biochemical function to most of the human genome, which was taken up by the media as meaning the end of ‘Junk DNA’. This provoked a heated reaction from evolutionary biologists, who among other things claimed that ENCODE adopted a wrong and much too inclusive notion of function, making its dismissal of junk DNA merely rhetorical. We argue that this criticism rests on misunderstandings concerning (...)
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  3. Manolo Martínez (forthcoming). Informationally-Connected Property Clusters, and Polymorphism. Biology and Philosophy:1-19.
    I present and defend a novel version of the homeostatic property cluster (HPC) account of natural kinds. The core of the proposal is a development of the notion of co-occurrence, central to the HPC account, along information-theoretic lines. The resulting theory retains all the appealing features of the original formulation, while increasing its explanatory power, and formal perspicuity. I showcase the theory by applying it to the (hitherto unsatisfactorily resolved) problem of reconciling the thesis that biological species are natural kinds (...)
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  4. Russell Powell & Nicholas Shea (forthcoming). Homology Across Inheritance Systems. Biology and Philosophy:1-26.
    Recent work on inheritance systems can be divided into inclusive conceptions, according to which genetic and non-genetic inheritance are both involved in the development and transmission of nearly all animal behavioral traits, and more demanding conceptions of what it takes for non-genetic resources involved in development to qualify as a distinct inheritance system. It might be thought that, if a more stringent conception is adopted, homologies could not subsist across two distinct inheritance systems. Indeed, it is commonly assumed that homology (...)
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  5. Raphael Scholl & Massimo Pigliucci (forthcoming). The Proximate–Ultimate Distinction and Evolutionary Developmental Biology: Causal Irrelevance Versus Explanatory Abstraction. Biology and Philosophy:1-18.
    Mayr’s proximate–ultimate distinction has received renewed interest in recent years. Here we discuss its role in arguments about the relevance of developmental to evolutionary biology. We show that two recent critiques of the proximate–ultimate distinction fail to explain why developmental processes in particular should be of interest to evolutionary biologists. We trace these failures to a common problem: both critiques take the proximate–ultimate distinction to neglect specific causal interactions in nature. We argue that this is implausible, and that the distinction (...)
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  6. 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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  7. Argyris Arnellos, Alvaro Moreno & Kepa Ruiz-Mirazo (forthcoming). Organizational Requirements for Multicellular Autonomy: Insights From a Comparative Case Study. Biology and Philosophy:1-34.
    In this paper we explore the organizational conditions underlying the emergence of organisms at the multicellular level. More specifically, we shall propose a general theoretical scheme according to which a multicellular organism is an ensemble of cells that effectively regulates its own development through collective (meta-cellular) mechanisms of control of cell differentiation and cell division processes. This theoretical result derives from the detailed study of the ontogenetic development of three multicellular systems (Nostoc punctiforme, Volvox carteri and Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) and, in (...)
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  8. Daniel Barker (forthcoming). Seeing the Wood for the Trees: Philosophical Aspects of Classical, Bayesian and Likelihood Approaches in Statistical Inference and Some Implications for Phylogenetic Analysis. Biology and Philosophy:1-21.
    The three main approaches in statistical inference—classical statistics, Bayesian and likelihood—are in current use in phylogeny research. The three approaches are discussed and compared, with particular emphasis on theoretical properties illustrated by simple thought-experiments. The methods are problematic on axiomatic grounds (classical statistics), extra-mathematical grounds relating to the use of a prior (Bayesian inference) or practical grounds (likelihood). This essay aims to increase understanding of these limits among those with an interest in phylogeny.
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  9. Sandy C. Boucher (forthcoming). Functionalism and Structuralism as Philosophical Stances: Van Fraassen Meets the Philosophy of Biology. Biology and Philosophy:1-21.
    I consider the broad perspectives in biology known as ‘functionalism’ and ‘structuralism’, as well as a modern version of functionalism, ‘adaptationism’. I do not take a position on which of these perspectives is preferable; my concern is with the prior question, how should they be understood? Adapting van Fraassen’s argument for treating materialism as a stance, rather than a factual belief with propositional content, in the first part of the paper I offer an argument for construing functionalism and structuralism as (...)
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  10. Nicolas J. Bullot (forthcoming). Agent Tracking: A Psycho-Historical Theory of the Identification of Living and Social Agents. Biology and Philosophy:1-24.
    To explain agent-identification behaviours, universalist theories in the biological and cognitive sciences have posited mental mechanisms thought to be universal to all humans, such as agent detection and face recognition mechanisms. These universalist theories have paid little attention to how particular sociocultural or historical contexts interact with the psychobiological processes of agent-identification. In contrast to universalist theories, contextualist theories appeal to particular historical and sociocultural contexts for explaining agent-identification. Contextualist theories tend to adopt idiographic methods aimed at recording the heterogeneity (...)
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  11. W. D. Christensen, J. D. Collier & C. A. Hooker (forthcoming). Adaptiveness and Adaptation: A New Autonomy-Theoretic Analysis and Critique. Biology and Philosophy.
     
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  12. Eugene Earnshaw (forthcoming). Evolutionary Forces and the Hardy–Weinberg Equilibrium. Biology and Philosophy:1-15.
    The Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium has been argued by Sober, Stephens and others to represent the zero-force state for evolutionary biology understood as a theory of forces. I investigate what it means for a model to involve forces, developing an explicit account by defining what the zero-force state is in a general theoretical context. I use this account to show that Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium is not the zero-force state in biology even in the contexts in which it applies, and argue based on this (...)
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  13. Markus I. Eronen (forthcoming). Levels of Organization: A Deflationary Account. Biology and Philosophy:1-20.
    The idea of levels of organization plays a central role in the philosophy of the life sciences. In this article, I first examine the explanatory goals that have motivated accounts of levels of organization. I then show that the most state-of-the-art and scientifically plausible account of levels of organization, the account of levels of mechanism proposed by Bechtel and Craver, is fundamentally problematic. Finally, I argue that the explanatory goals can be reached by adopting a deflationary approach, where levels of (...)
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  14. 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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  15. Matthew H. Haber (forthcoming). In Defense of the Organism. Biology and Philosophy:1-11.
    Thomas Pradeu’s The Limits of the Self provides a precise account of biological identity developed from the central concepts of immunology. Yet the central concepts most relevant to this task (self and nonself) are themselves deemed inadequate, suffering from ambiguity and imprecision. Pradeu seeks to remedy this by proposing a new guiding theory for immunology, the continuity theory. From this, an account of biological identity is provided in terms of uniqueness and individuality, ultimately leading to a defense of the heterogeneous (...)
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  16. David Haig (forthcoming). Sameness, Novelty, and Nominal Kinds. Biology and Philosophy:1-16.
    Organisms and their genomes are mosaics of features of different evolutionary age. Older features are maintained by ‘negative’ selection and comprise part of the selective environment that has shaped the evolution of newer features by ‘positive’ selection. Body plans and body parts are among the most conservative elements of the environment in which genetic differences are selected. By this process, well-trodden paths of development constrain and direct paths of evolutionary change. Structuralism and adaptationism are both vindicated. Form plays a selective (...)
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  17. T. Halabi (forthcoming). Suggested Roles of Endosymbiosis and Encephalitis in the Evolution of Sexual Behavior. Biology and Philosophy:1-3.
    We group (post-)encephalitic behaviors as shown in Table 1. It is striking that the majority of these behaviors, namely groups 1 and 2, help spread viral and bacterial infections underlying encephalitis, a situation similar to Ophiocordyceps unilateralis (Andersen et al. 2009) (popularly known as the zombie ant phenomenon).Could some of the behaviors in Table 1 be (or have been) of utility to the host as well? Note that the behavioral symptoms may not coincide with impaired intellect (Greenebaum and Lurie 1948). (...)
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  18. Jonathan Michael Kaplan (forthcoming). Race, IQ, and the Search for Statistical Signals Associated with so-Called “X”-Factors: Environments, Racism, and the “Hereditarian Hypothesis”. Biology and Philosophy:1-17.
    Some authors defending the “hereditarian” hypothesis with respect to differences in average IQ scores between populations have argued that the sorts of environmental variation hypothesized by some researchers rejecting the hereditarian position should leave discoverable statistical traces, namely changes in the overall variance of scores or in variance–covariance matrices relating scores to other variables. In this paper, I argue that the claims regarding the discoverability of such statistical signals are broadly mistaken—there is no good reason to suspect that the hypothesized (...)
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  19. Stuart Kauffman & Philip Clayton (forthcoming). Emergence, Autonomous Agents, and Organization. Biology and Philosophy.
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  20. Elizabeth O.’Neill (forthcoming). Relativizing Innateness: Innateness as the Insensitivity of the Appearance of a Trait with Respect to Specified Environmental Variation. Biology and Philosophy:1-15.
    I object to eliminativism about innateness and André Ariew’s identification of innateness with canalization, and I propose a new treatment of innateness. I first argue that the concept of innateness is serving a valuable function in a diverse set of research contexts, and in these contexts, claims about innateness are best understood as claims about the insensitivity of the appearance of a trait to certain variations in the environment. I then argue that innateness claims, like claims about canalization, should be (...)
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  21. Jay Odenbaugh (forthcoming). Semblance or Similarity? Reflections on Simulation and Similarity. Biology and Philosophy:1-15.
    In this essay, I critically evaluate components of Michael Weisberg’s approach to models and modeling in his book Simulation and Similarity. First, I criticize his account of the ontology of models and mathematics. Second, I respond to his objections to fictionalism regarding models arguing that they fail. Third, I sketch a deflationary approach to models that retains many elements of his account but avoids the inflationary commitments.
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  22. 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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  23. Carlos Santana (forthcoming). Save the Planet: Eliminate Biodiversity. Biology and Philosophy:1-20.
    Recent work in the philosophy of biology has attempted to clarify and defend the use of the biodiversity concept in conservation science. I argue against these views, and give reasons to think that the biodiversity concept is a poor fit for the role we want it to play in conservation biology on both empirical and conceptual grounds. Against pluralists, who hold that biodiversity consists of distinct but correlated properties of natural systems, I argue that the supposed correlations between these properties (...)
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  24. Theresa Schilhab (forthcoming). What Mirror Self-Recognition Can Tell Us About Aspects of Self. Biology and Philosophy.
     
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  25. Peter Schulte (forthcoming). Perceptual Representations: A Teleosemantic Answer to the Breadth-of-Application Problem. Biology and Philosophy:1-18.
    Teleosemantic theories of representation are often criticized as being “too liberal”, i.e. as categorizing states as representations which are not representational at all. Recently, a powerful version of this objection has been put forth by Tyler Burge. Focusing on perception, Burge defends the claim that all teleosemantic theories apply too broadly, thereby missing what is distinctive about representation. Contra Burge, I will argue in this paper that there is a teleosemantic account of perceptual states that does not fall prey to (...)
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  26. Martin Stuart-Fox (forthcoming). The Origins of Causal Cognition in Early Hominins. Biology and Philosophy:1-20.
    Studies of primate cognition have conclusively shown that humans and apes share a range of basic cognitive abilities. As a corollary, these same studies have also focussed attention on what makes humans unique, and on when and how specifically human cognitive skills evolved. There is widespread agreement that a major distinguishing feature of the human mind is its capacity for causal reasoning. This paper argues that causal cognition originated with the use made of indirect natural signs by early hominins forced (...)
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  27. William J. Talbott (forthcoming). How Could a “Blind” Evolutionary Process Have Made Human Moral Beliefs Sensitive to Strongly Universal, Objective Moral Standards? Biology and Philosophy:1-18.
    The evolutionist challenge to moral realism is the skeptical challenge that, if evolution is true, it would only be by chance, a “happy coincidence” as Sharon Street puts it, if human moral beliefs were true. The author formulates Street’s “happy coincidence” argument more precisely using a distinction between probabilistic sensitivity and insensitivity introduced by Elliott Sober. The author then considers whether it could be rational for us to believe that human moral judgments about particular cases are probabilistically sensitive to strongly (...)
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  28. J. H. Van Hateren (forthcoming). Intrinsic Estimates of Fitness Affect the Causal Structure of Evolutionary Change. Biology and Philosophy:1-18.
    The causal structure of Darwinian evolution by natural selection is investigated. Its basic scheme is reproduction resulting from a feedback loop driven by internal and external causes. Causation internal to the loop connects genotype, development, phenotype, and fitness, with environmental constraints on the latter preventing runaway reproduction. External causes driving the core loop are environmental change and genetic change (mutation, used broadly as including recombination and other mechanisms). This basic causal structure is complicated by modern additions such as control of (...)
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  29. William C. Wimsatt (forthcoming). Models and Experiments? An Exploration. Biology and Philosophy:1-6.
    Michael Weisberg has given us a lovely book on models. It has very broad coverage of issues intersecting the nature of models and their use, an extensive consideration of long ignored “concrete” models with a rich case study, a discussion and classification of the many diverse kinds of models, and a particularly groundbreaking and innovative discussion of similarity concerning how models relate to the world. Included are insightful discussions of increasingly used “agent based” models, and the conjoint use of multiple (...)
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  30. John Zerilli (forthcoming). A Minimalist Framework for Comparative Psychology. Biology and Philosophy:1-8.
    Suddendorf explores “the gap” between humans and other animals, with a particular emphasis on our great ape relatives. Both for nonscientists and those scientists or philosophers whose work is not centrally preoccupied with such questions, the book provides a tidy compendium of experimental results organized around a number of precisely defined areas of competence. He takes language, mental time travel, theory of mind, intelligence, culture and morality to be definitive of human cognitive prowess and judiciously evaluates the comparative evidence he (...)
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