David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Biology and Philosophy 27 (6):785-810 (2012)
The aim of this paper is to assess the relevance of somatic evolution by natural selection to our understanding of cancer development. I do so in two steps. In the first part of the paper, I ask to what extent cancer cells meet the formal requirements for evolution by natural selection, relying on Godfrey-Smith’s (2009) framework of Darwinian populations. I argue that although they meet the minimal requirements for natural selection, cancer cells are not paradigmatic Darwinian populations. In the second part of the paper, I examine the most important examples of adaptation in cancer cells. I argue that they are not significant accumulations of evolutionary changes, and that as a consequence natural selection plays a lesser role in their explanation. Their explanation, I argue, is best sought in the previously existing wiring of the healthy cells.
|Keywords||cancer adaptation natural selection explanation Darwinian populations|
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References found in this work BETA
Katherine Belov (2012). Contagious Cancer: Lessons From the Devil and the Dog. Bioessays 34 (4):285-292.
Marta Bertolaso (2011). Hierarchies and Causal Relationships in Interpretative Models of the Neoplastic Process. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 33 (4).
Frédéric Bouchard (2008). Causal Processes, Fitness, and the Differential Persistence of Lineages. Philosophy of Science 75 (5):560-570.
Steven A. Frank & Martin A. Nowak (2004). Problems of Somatic Mutation and Cancer. Bioessays 26 (3):291-299.
Citations of this work BETA
Alessandro Blasimme, Paolo Maugeri & Pierre-Luc Germain (2013). What Mechanisms Can't Do: Explanatory Frameworks and the Function of the P53 Gene in Molecular Oncology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):374-384.
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