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Forthcoming articles
  1. Mirko Farina (forthcoming). On the Active Boundaries of Vision. Biology and Philosophy.
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  2. Marcin Miłkowski (forthcoming). Satisfaction Conditions in Anticipatory Mechanisms. Biology and Philosophy:1-20.
    The purpose of this paper is to present a general mechanistic framework for analyzing causal representational claims, and offer a way to distinguish genuinely representational explanations from those that invoke representations for honorific purposes. It is usually agreed that rats are capable of navigation because they maintain a cognitive map of their environment. Exactly how and why their neural states give rise to mental representations is a matter of an ongoing debate. I will show that anticipatory mechanisms involved in rats’ (...)
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  3. Thomas Pradeu (forthcoming). Toolbox Murders: Putting Genes in Their Epigenetic and Ecological Contexts: A Review of Griffiths and Stotz, Genetics and Philosophy: An Introduction. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy.
    Griffiths and Stotz’s Genetics and Philosophy: An Introduction offers a very good overview of scientific and philosophical issues raised by present-day genetics. Examining, in particular, the questions of how a “gene” should be defined and what a gene does from a causal point of view, the authors explore the different domains of the life sciences in which genetics has come to play a decisive role, from Mendelian genetics to molecular genetics, behavioural genetics, and evolution. In this review, I highlight what (...)
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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. Lindell Bromham (forthcoming). What is a Gene For? Biology and Philosophy:1-21.
    The word “gene” means different things to different people, and can even be used in multiple ways by the same individual. In this review, I follow a particular thread running through Griffith and Stotz’s “Genetics and Philosophy: an introduction”, which is the way that methods of investigation influence the way we define the concept of “gene”, from nineteen century breeding experiments to twenty-first century big data bioinformatics. These different views lead to a set of gene concepts, which only partially overlap (...)
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  8. 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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  9. Geoffrey K. Chambers (forthcoming). Understanding Complexity: Are We Making Progress? Biology and Philosophy:1-10.
    In recent years a new conceptual tool called Complexity Theory has come to the attention of scientists and philosophers. This approach is concerned with the emergent properties of interacting systems. It has found wide applicability from cosmology to Social Structure Analysis. However, practitioners are still struggling to find the best way to define complexity and then to measure it. A new book Complexity and the arrow of time by Lineweaver et al. contains contributions from scholars who provide critical reviews of (...)
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  10. 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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  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. 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. 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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  14. Stuart Kauffman & Philip Clayton (forthcoming). Emergence, Autonomous Agents, and Organization. Biology and Philosophy.
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  15. Tim Lewens (forthcoming). The Nature of Philosophy and the Philosophy of Nature. Biology and Philosophy:1-10.
    Peter Godfrey-Smith’s introduction to the philosophy of biology is excellent. This review questions one implication of his book, namely that Darwin’s case for the efficacy of natural selection was hampered by his ignorance of the particulate nature of inheritance. I suggest, instead, that Darwin was handicapped by an inability to effectively engage in quantitative population thinking. I also question Godfrey-Smith’s understanding of the role that Malthusian struggle plays in linking natural selection to the origination of new adaptive traits, and I (...)
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  16. Alan C. Love (forthcoming). ChINs, Swarms, and Variational Modalities: Concepts in the Service of an Evolutionary Research Program. Biology and Philosophy:1-16.
    Günter Wagner’s Homology, Genes, and Evolutionary Innovation collects and synthesizes a vast array of empirical data, theoretical models, and conceptual analysis to set out a progressive research program with a central theoretical commitment: the genetic theory of homology. This research program diverges from standard approaches in evolutionary biology, provides sharpened contours to explanations of the origin of novelty, and expands the conceptual repertoire of evolutionary developmental biology . I concentrate on four aspects of the book in this essay review: the (...)
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  17. Maureen A. O’Malley (forthcoming). Molecular Organisms. Biology and Philosophy:1-19.
    Protistology, and evolutionary protistology in particular, is experiencing a golden research era. It is an extended one that can be dated back to the 1970s, which is when the molecular rebirth of microbial phylogeny began in earnest. John Archibald, a professor of evolutionary microbiology at Dalhousie University , focuses on the beautiful story of endosymbiosis in his book, John Archibald, One Plus One Equals One: Symbiosis and the Origin of Complex Life . However, this historical narrative could be treated as (...)
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  18. T. Pradeu (forthcoming). Toolbox Murders: Putting Genes in Their Epigenetic and Ecological Contexts. Biology and Philosophy:1-18.
    Griffiths and Stotz’s Genetics and Philosophy: An Introduction offers a very good overview of scientific and philosophical issues raised by present-day genetics. Examining, in particular, the questions of how a “gene” should be defined and what a gene does from a causal point of view, the authors explore the different domains of the life sciences in which genetics has come to play a decisive role, from Mendelian genetics to molecular genetics, behavioural genetics, and evolution. In this review, I highlight what (...)
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  19. Theresa Schilhab (forthcoming). What Mirror Self-Recognition Can Tell Us About Aspects of Self. Biology and Philosophy.
     
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  20. Daniel Shargel (forthcoming). Emotions Without Objects. Biology and Philosophy:1-14.
    It is widely assumed that emotions have particular intentional objects. This assumption is consistent with the way that we talk: when we attribute states of anger, we often attribute anger at someone, or at something. It is also consistent with leading theories of emotion among philosophers and psychologists, according to which emotions are like judgments or appraisals. However, there is evidence from the social psychology literature suggesting that this assumption is actually false. I will begin by presenting a criterion for (...)
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  21. 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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  22. 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 . This basic causal structure is complicated by modern additions such as control of mutation rate, niche construction, interactions between evolution and (...)
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  23. David A. Wells (forthcoming). The Extended Phenotype: A Comparison with Niche Construction Theory. Biology and Philosophy:1-21.
    While niche construction theory locates animal artefacts in their constructors’ environment, hence treating them as capable of exerting selective pressure on both the constructors and their descendants, the extended phenotype concept assimilates artefacts with their constructors’ genes. Analogous contrasts apply in the case of endoparasite and brood parasite genes influencing host behaviour. The explanatory power of these competing approaches are assessed by re-examining the core chapters of Richard Dawkins’ The Extended Phenotype. Because animal artefacts have multiple evolutionary consequences for their (...)
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