A theory of conceptual advance: Explaining conceptual change in evolutionary, molecular, and evolutionary developmental biology
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh (2006)
The theory of concepts advanced in the dissertation aims at accounting for a) how a concept makes successful practice possible, and b) how a scientific concept can be subject to rational change in the course of history. Traditional accounts in the philosophy of science have usually studied concepts in terms only of their reference; their concern is to establish a stability of reference in order to address the incommensurability problem. My discussion, in contrast, suggests that each scientific concept consists of three components of content: 1) reference, 2) inferential role, and 3) the epistemic goal pursued with the concept's use. I argue that in the course of history a concept can change in any of these three components, and that change in one component—including change of reference—can be accounted for as being rational relative to other components, in particular a concept's epistemic goal. This semantic framework is applied to two cases from the history of biology: the homology concept as used in 19th and 20th century biology, and the gene concept as used in different parts of the 20th century. The homology case study argues that the advent of Darwinian evolutionary theory, despite introducing a new definition of homology, did not bring about a new homology concept (distinct from the pre-Darwinian concept) in the 19th century. Nowadays, however, distinct homology concepts are used in systematics/evolutionary biology, in evolutionary developmental biology, and in molecular biology. The emergence of these different homology concepts is explained as occurring in a rational fashion. The gene case study argues that conceptual progress occurred with the transition from the classical to the molecular gene concept, despite a change in reference. In the last two decades, change occurred internal to the molecular gene concept, so that nowadays this concept's usage and reference varies from context to context. I argue that this situation emerged rationally and that the current variation in usage and reference is conducive to biological practice. The dissertation uses ideas and methodological tools from the philosophy of mind and language, the philosophy of science, the history of science, and the psychology of concepts.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Ingo Brigandt (2010). The Epistemic Goal of a Concept: Accounting for the Rationality of Semantic Change and Variation. Synthese 177 (1):19-40.
Ingo Brigandt (2003). Homology in Comparative, Molecular, and Evolutionary Developmental Biology: The Radiation of a Concept. Journal of Experimental Zoology (Molecular and Developmental Evolution) 299:9-17.
Ingo Brigandt, An Alternative to Kitcher's Theory of Conceptual Progress and His Account of the Change of the Gene Concept.
Karel Kleisner (2007). The Formation of the Theory of Homology in Biological Sciences. Acta Biotheoretica 55 (4):317-340.
Claudia Lorena García (2010). Functional Homology and Functional Variation in Evolutionary Cognitive Science. Biological Theory 5 (2):124-135.
Ingo Brigandt (2006). A Theory of Conceptual Advance: Explaining Conceptual Change in Evolutionary, Molecular, and Evolutionary Developmental Biology. Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads114 ( #13,942 of 1,696,445 )
Recent downloads (6 months)7 ( #78,809 of 1,696,445 )
How can I increase my downloads?