Continuing Franz Boas' work to establish anthropology as an academic discipline in the US at the turn of the twentieth century, Alfred L. Kroeber re-defined culture as a phenomenon sui generis. To achieve this he asked geneticists to enter into a coalition against hereditarian thoughts prevalent at that time in the US. The goal was to create space for anthropology as a separate discipline within academia, distinct from other disciplines. To this end he crossed the boundary separating anthropology from biology (...) in order to secure the boundary. His notion of culture, closely bound to the concept of heredity, saw it as independent of biological heredity (culture as superorganic) but at the same time as a heredity of another sort. The paper intends to summarise the shifting boundaries of anthropology at the beginning of the twentieth century, and to present Kroeber?s ideas on culture, with a focus on how the changing landscape of concepts of heredity influenced his views. The historical case serves to illustrate two general conclusions: that the concept of culture played and plays different roles in explaining human existence; that genetics and the concept of Weismannian hard inheritance did not have an unambiguous unidirectional historical effect on the vogue for hereditarianism at that time; on the contrary, it helped to establish culture in Kroeber's sense, culture as independent of heredity. (shrink)
In this paper I use a case study—the discovery of the chaperon function exerted by proteins in the various steps of the hereditary process—to re-discuss the question whether the nucleic acids are the sole repositories of relevant information as assumed in the information theory of heredity. The evidence I here present of a crucial role for molecular chaperones in the folding of nascent proteins, as well as in DNA duplication, RNA folding and gene control, suggests that the family of (...) proteins acting as molecular chaperones provides information that is complementary to that stored in the nucleic acids, and equally important. A re-evaluation of the role of proteins in the hereditary process is in order away from the gene-centric approach of the information theory of heredity, to which neo-Darwinian evolutionists adhere. (shrink)
This book places under sustained scrutiny some of our most basic modern assumptions about inheritance, genealogy, blood relations, and racial categories. It has at its core a deceptively simple question, one too often taken for granted: what constitutes good bonds among humans, and what compels us to determine them so across generations as both a physical and a metaphysical attribute? Answering this question is complex and involves a foray into a seemingly disparate array of early modern sources: from adages, common (...) law, and literature about bloodlines and bastardy to philosophical, political, and scientific discourses that both confirm and confound the common sense of familial, communal, national, and racial identity. (shrink)
I argue that too much attention has been paid to the Baldwin effect. George Gaylord Simpson was probably right when he said that the effect is theoretically possible and may have actually occurred but that this has no major implications for evolutionary theory. The Baldwin effect is not even central to Baldwin’s own account of ‘social heredity’ and biology-culture co-evolution, an account that in important respects resembles the modern ideas of epigenetic inheritance and niche-construction.
Darwin’s ideas on variation, heredity, and development differ significantly from twentieth-century views. First, Darwin held that environmental changes, acting either on the reproductive organs or the body, were necessary to generate variation. Second, heredity was a developmental, not a transmissional, process; variation was a change in the developmental process of change. An analysis of Darwin’s elaboration and modification of these two positions from his early notebooks (1836–1844) to the last edition of the /Variation of Animals and Plants Under (...) Domestication/ (1875) complements previous Darwin scholarship on these issues. Included in this analysis is a description of the way Darwin employed the distinction between transmission and development, as well as the conceptual relationship he saw between heredity and variation. This paper is part of a larger project comparing commitments regarding variation during the latter half of the nineteenth century. (shrink)
The exploration of the mechanisms of cultural heredity has often been regarded as the key to explicating human uniqueness. Particularly early imitative learning, which is explained as a kind of simulation that rests on the infant’s identification with other persons as intentional agents, has been stressed as the foundation of cumulative cultural transmission. But the question of what are the objects of this mechanism has not been given much attention. Although this is a pivotal point, it still remains obscure. (...) I will characterize the notion of action-types and show why they are the genuine objects of cultural heredity. However, this answer is in conflict with the concept of imitation, and the problem arises that, if imitation is conceptualized as simulation and explained in terms of the cognition of infants, the objects of cultural transmission seemingly cannot be passed on by imitation. In order to solve this problem, I propose reconsidering the concept of imitation and to conceptualize imitation as a cooperative activity of infants and adults. (shrink)
Staffan Müller-Wille & Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (Eds): Heredity Produced. At the Crossroads of Biology, Politics, and Culture, 1500–1870 Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 327-331 DOI 10.1007/s10441-011-9130-4 Authors Robert Olby, Department of the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, 1017 Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, PA 15236, USA Journal Acta Biotheoretica Online ISSN 1572-8358 Print ISSN 0001-5342 Journal Volume Volume 59 Journal Issue Volume 59, Numbers 3-4.
In this paper I begin by arguing that there are significant intellectual and normative continuities between pre-Victorian hereditarianism and later Victorian eugenical ideologies. Notions of mental heredity and of the dangers of transmitting hereditary 'taints' were already serious concerns among medical practitioners and laymen in the early nineteenth century. I then show how the Victorian period witnessed an increasing tendency for these traditional concerns about hereditary transmission and the integrity of bloodlines to be projected onto the level of national (...) health. Tracing the gradual emergence of eugenical thought, I also highlight some of the more fundamental social, political and intellectual factors that promoted this predilection for extrapolating from the individual lineage to the nation and race. In doing so I argue that fully fledged eugenical thought was always unlikely to emerge prior to the early Victorian period. However, I am also able to show that Francis Galton's 1865 eugenical proposals were far from innovative and that identifying him as the 'father' of the eugenics movement is highly misleading. (shrink)
define the hidden entities presumed to govern the process of hereditary transmissionWith that Hans-Jörg came to conceptualize, Carl Correns , its triple re-appreciation of Gregor Mendel’s work by the botanists Hugo de Vries, Erich Tschermak can be seen as the watershed after which theorizing about heredity & Pure Experimentation—Selecting.
This paper argues that our modern concept of biological heredity was first clearly introduced in a theoretical and practical setting by the generation of French physicians that were active between 1810 and 1830. It describes how from a traditional focus on hereditary transmission of disease, influential French medical men like Esquirol, Fodéré, Piorry, Lévy, moved towards considering heredity a central concept for the conception of the human bodily frame, and its set of physical and moral dispositions. The notion (...) of heredity as a natural force, with a wide ranging capabilities of transmitting differentially both fundamental and accidental characters was generalized by that generation of physicians with the help of contemporary naturalists and physiologists. By 1830 the term hérédité was widespread, and it shared the explanatory and semantic qualities of traditional medical concepts like constitution and temperament. An analysis is given of the main developments that led to the conception of biological (including human) bodies as consisting of a layered, hierarchical organization of characters, differentially affected by the laws of conservation (Heredity) and change (Inneity, Variation). The mid-century work of the French physician Prosper Lucas, Traité Philosophique et Physiologique de L'Hérédité Naturelle, is shown to be the culmination of the efforts of several generations of French physicians towards having a feasible, complexly structured notion of how heredity works. (shrink)
T. H. Morgan, A. H. Sturtevant, H. J. Muller and C. B. Bridges published their comprehensive treatise "The Mechanism of Mendelian Heredity" in 1915. By 1920 Morgan's "Chromosome Theory of Heredity" was generally accepted by geneticists in the United States, and by British geneticists by 1925. By 1930 it had been incorporated into most general biology, botany, and zoology textbooks as established knowledge. In this paper, I examine the reasons why it was accepted as part of (...) a series of comparative studies of theory-acceptance in the sciences. In this context it is of interest to look at the persuasiveness of confirmed novel predictions, a factor often regarded by philosophers of science as the most important way to justify a theory. Here it turns out to play a role in the decision of some geneticists to accept the theory, but is generally less important than the CTH's ability to explain Mendelian inheritance, sex-linked inheritance, non-disjunction, and the connection between linkage groups and the number of chromosome pairs; in other words, to establish a firm connection between genetics and cytology. It is remarkable that geneticists were willing to accept the CTH as applicable to all organisms at a time when it had been confirmed only for Drosophila. The construction of maps showing the location on the chromosomes of genes for specific characters was especially convincing for non-geneticists. (shrink)
City College of New York The hereditarian theory of race differences in IQ was briefly revived with the appearance of The Bell Curve but then quickly dismissed. The authors attempt a defense of it here, with an eye to conceptual and logical issues of special interests to philosophers, such as alleged infirmities in the heritability concept. At the same time, some relevant post-Bell Curve empirical data are introduced.
The present paper is an annotated transcription of an interview held on the 29th of August 2007 in E. Avé-Lallemant’s flat in Munich. He was Hedwig Conrad-Martius’ assistant, carried on her work and research, and filed her legacy, which is deposited at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich. In this interview Avé-Lallemant remembers Conrad-Martius as a person and as a philosopher and discusses her philosophical evolution within Husserl’s phenomenological school, the relationship between biology and phenomenology, her rediscovering of Aristotelian philosophy, and, (...) mainly, the concepts of Energeia and Entelechia. The influence of her friend and colleague Edith Stein made Conrad-Martius gradually take up the Scholastics philosophy again. (shrink)
This paper defends the position that the supposed gap between biological altruism and psychological altruism is not nearly as wide as some scholars (e.g., Elliott Sober) insist. Crucial to this defense is the use of James Mark Baldwin's concepts of “organic selection”and “social heredity” to assist in revealing that the gap between biological and psychological altruism is more of a small lacuna. Specifically, this paper argues that ontogenetic behavioral adjustments, which are crucial to individual survival and reproduction, are also (...) crucial to species survival. In particular, it is argued that human psychological altruism is produced and maintained by various sorts of mimicry and self-reflection in the aid of both individual and species survival. The upshot of this analysis is that it is possible to offer an account of psychological altruism that is closelytethered to biological altruism without reducing entirely the former to thelatter. (shrink)
The dichotomy between Nature and Nurture, which has been dismantled within the framework of development, remains embodied in the notions of plasticity and evolvability. We argue that plasticity and evolvability, like development and heredity, are neither dichotomous nor distinct: the very same mechanisms may be involved in both, and the research perspective chosen depends to a large extent on the type of problem being explored and the kinds of questions being asked. Epigenetic inheritance leads to transgenerationally extended plasticity, and (...) developmentally-induced heritable epigenetic variations provide additional foci for selection that can lead to evolutionary change. Moreover, hereditary innovations may result from developmentally induced large-scale genomic repatterning events, which are akin to Goldschmidtian “systemic mutations”. The epigenetic mechanisms involved in repatterning can be activated by both environmental and genomic stress, and lead to phylogenetic as well as ontogenetic changes. Hence, the effects and the mechanisms of plasticity directly contribute to evolvability. (shrink)
Developmental systems theory (DST) is a general theoretical perspective on development, heredity and evolution. It is intended to facilitate the study of interactions between the many factors that influence development without reviving `dichotomous' debates over nature or nurture, gene or environment, biology or culture. Several recent papers have addressed the relationship between DST and the thriving new discipline of evolutionary developmental biology (EDB). The contributions to this literature by evolutionary developmental biologists contain three important misunderstandings of DST.
Evolutionary theory is undergoing an intense period of discussion and reevaluation. This, contrary to the misleading claims of creationists and other pseudoscientists, is no harbinger of a crisis but rather the opposite: the field is expanding dramatically in terms of both empirical discoveries and new ideas. In this essay I briefly trace the conceptual history of evolutionary theory from Darwinism to neo-Darwinism, and from the Modern Synthesis to what I refer to as the Extended Synthesis, a more inclusive conceptual framework (...) containing among others evo–devo, an expanded theory of heredity, elements of complexity theory, ideas about evolvability, and a reevaluation of levels of selection. I argue that evolutionary biology has never seen a paradigm shift, in the philosophical sense of the term, except when it moved from natural theology to empirical science in the middle of the 19th century. The Extended Synthesis, accordingly, is an expansion of the Modern Synthesis of the 1930s and 1940s, and one that—like its predecessor—will probably take decades to complete. (shrink)
[Publisher's description:] When can we be morally responsible for our behavior? Is it fair to blame people for actions that are determined by heredity and environment? Can we be responsible for the actions of relatives or members of our community? In this provocative book, Tamler Sommers concludes that there are no objectively correct answers to these questions. Drawing on research in anthropology, psychology, and a host of other disciplines, Sommers argues that cross-cultural variation raises serious problems for theories that (...) propose universally applicable conditions for moral responsibility. He then develops a new way of thinking about responsibility that takes cultural diversity into account. -/- Relative Justice is a novel and accessible contribution to the ancient debate over free will and moral responsibility. Sommers provides a thorough examination of the methodology employed by contemporary philosophers in the debate and a challenge to Western assumptions about individual autonomy and its connection to moral desert. (shrink)
The semantic concept of information is one of the most important, and one of the most problematical concepts in biology. I suggest a broad definition of biological information: a source becomes an informational input when an interpreting receiver can react to the form of the source (and variations in this form) in a functional manner. The definition accommodates information stemming from environmental cues as well as from evolved signals, and calls for a comparison between information‐transmission in different types of inheritance (...) systems—the genetic, the epigenetic, the behavioral, and the cultural‐symbolic. This comparative perspective highlights the different ways in which information is acquired and transmitted, and the role that such information plays in heredity and evolution. Focusing on the special properties of the transfer of information, which are very different from those associated with the transfer of materials or energy, also helps to uncover interesting evolutionary effects and suggests better explanations for some aspects of the evolution of communication. (shrink)
• "Conditions for Evolution by Natural Selection " (2007) . Evolution by natural selection is usually said to require three ingredients: variation, heredity, and fitness differences. But things are not so simple. Here I discuss various problem cases and their consequences.
August Weismann is famous for having argued against the inheritance of acquired characters. However, an analysis of his work indicates that Weismann always held that changes in external conditions, acting during development, were the necessary causes of variation in the hereditary material. For much of his career he held that acquired germ-plasm variation was inherited. An irony, which is in tension with much of the standard twentieth-century history of biology, thus exists – Weismann was not a Weismannian. I distinguish three (...) claims regarding the germ-plasm: (1) its continuity, (2) its morphological sequestration, and (3) its variational sequestration. With respect to changes in Weismann’s views on the cause of variation, I divide his career into four stages. For each stage I analyze his beliefs on the relative importance of changes in external conditions and sexual reproduction as causes of variation in the hereditary material. Weismann believed, and Weismannism denies, that variation, heredity, and development were deeply intertwined processes. This article is part of a larger project comparing commitments regarding variation during the latter half of the nineteenth century. (shrink)
Organisms inherit various kinds of developmental information and cues from their parents. The study of inheritance systems is aimed at identifying and classifying the various mechanisms and processes of heredity, the types of hereditary information that is passed on by each, the functional interaction between the different systems, and the evolutionary consequences of these properties. We present the discussion of inheritance systems in the context of several debates. First, between proponents of monism about heredity (gene-centric views), holism about (...)heredity (Developmental Systems Theory), and those stressing the role of multiple systems of inheritance. Second, between those analyzing inheritance solely in terms of replication and transmission, and views that stress the multi-generation reproduction of phenotypic traits. A third debate is concerned with different criteria that have been proposed for identifying and delimiting inheritance systems. A fourth controversy revolves around the significance of the “Lamarckian” aspects of some of the inheritance systems that have been identified, such as epigenetic inheritance and behavioral inheritance, that allow the transmission of environmentally induced characters (i.e., “soft inheritance”). (shrink)
Many natural and biological phenomena can be depicted as networks. Theoretical and empirical analyses of networks have become prevalent. I discuss theoretical biases involved in the delineation of biological networks. The network perspective is shown to dissolve the distinction between regulatory architecture and regulatory state, consistent with the theoretical impossibility of distinguishing a priori between “program” and “data”. The evolutionary significance of the dynamics of trans-generational and inter-organism regulatory networks is explored and implications are presented for understanding the evolution of (...) the biological categories development-heredity; plasticity-evolvability; and epigenetic-genetic. (shrink)
There is increasing evidence for epigenetically mediated transgenerational inheritance across taxa. However, the evolutionary implications of such alternative mechanisms of inheritance remain unclear. Herein, we show that epigenetic mechanisms can serve two fundamentally different functions in transgenerational inheritance: (i) selection-based effects, which carry adaptive information in virtue of selection over many generations of reliable transmission; and (ii) detection-based effects, which are a transgenerational form of adaptive phenotypic plasticity. The two functions interact differently with a third form of epigenetic information transmission, (...) namely information about cell state transmitted for somatic cell heredity in multicellular organisms. Selection-based epigenetic information is more likely to conflict with somatic cell inheritance than is detection-based epigenetic information. Consequently, the evolutionary implications of epigenetic mechanisms are different for unicellular and multicellular organisms, which underscores the conceptual and empirical importance of distinguishing between these two different forms of transgenerational epigenetic effect. (shrink)
‘Natural selection’ is, it seems, an ambiguous term. It is sometimes held to denote a consequence of variation, heredity, and environment, while at other times as denoting a force that creates adaptations. I argue that the latter, the force interpretation, is a redundant notion of natural selection. I will point to difficulties in making sense of this linguistic practise, and argue that it is frequently at odds with standard interpretations of evolutionary theory. I provide examples to show this; one (...) example involving the relation between adaptations and other traits, and a second involving the relation between selection and drift. (shrink)
In responding to three reviews of Evolution in Four Dimensions (Jablonka and Lamb, 2005, MIT Press), we briefly consider the historical background to the present genecentred view of evolution, especially the way in which Weismann’s theories have influenced it, and discuss the origins of the notion of epigenetic inheritance. We reaffirm our belief that all types of hereditary information—genetic, epigenetic, behavioural and cultural—have contributed to evolutionary change, and outline recent evidence, mainly from epigenetic studies, that suggests that non-DNA heritable variations (...) are not rare and can be quite stable. We describe ways in which such variations may have influenced evolution. The approach we take leads to broader definitions of terms such as ‘units of heredity’, ‘units of evolution’, and ‘units of selection’, and we maintain that ‘information’ can be a useful concept if it is defined in terms of its effects on the receiver. Although we agree that evolutionary theory is not undergoing a Kuhnian revolution, the incorporation of new data and ideas about hereditary variation, and about the role of development in generating it, is leading to a version of Darwinism that is very different from the gene-centred one that dominated evolutionary thinking in the second half of the twentieth century. (shrink)
The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology is an exciting collection of new essays written especially to give the reader an introduction to one of the most vibrant areas of scholarship today, and at the same time to move the subject forward dramatically. Written in a clear and rigorous style it will give the more experienced scholar much to think about and will also be of great value to the new student of the subject. The handbook covers the history of (...) the topic, then moves into important analyses of contemporary evolutionary thinking, and continues with discussions of genetics and the moral and epistemological foundations of our understanding of heredity. The book goes on to cover ecology, behavior and morality, and does not neglect religion or feminist issues. Finally, it takes up matters to do with language and metaphor. The authors range from the senior and experienced to new and exciting young scholars. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology is a collection that will be of interest to philosophers of science, to philosophers generally, as well as biologists of all kinds. There is no better way to learn about this dynamic field than through the essays in this volume. (shrink)
This paper serves as an introduction to the special issue on “Reconciling Nature and Nurture in Behavior and Cognition Research” and sets its agenda to resolve the 'interactionist' dichotomy of nature as the genetic, and stable, factors of development, and nurture as the environmental, and plastic influences. In contrast to this received view it promotes the idea that all traits, no matter how developmentally fixed or universal they seem, contingently develop out of a single-cell state through the interaction of a (...) multitude of developmental resources that defies any easy, dichotomous separation. It goes on to analyze the necessary ingredients for such a radical, epigenetic account of development, heredity and evolution: 1. A detailed understanding of the epigenetic nature of the regulatory mechanisms of gene expression; 2. The systematical questioning of preconceptions of 'explanatory' categories of behavior, such as 'innate' or 'programmed'; 3. Especially in psychological research the integration of the concepts of 'development' and 'learning', and a richer classification of the concept of 'environment' in the production of behavior; 4. A fuller understanding of the nature of inheritance that transcends the restriction to the genetic material as the sole hereditary unit, and the study of the process of developmental niche construction; and last 5. Taking serious the role of ecology in development and evolution. I hope that an accomplishment of the above task will then lead to a 'postgenomic' synthesis of nature and nurture that conceptualizes 'nature' as the natural phenotypic outcome 'nurtured' by the natural developmental process leading to it. (shrink)
The distinction between phenotype and genotype is fundamental to the understanding of heredity and development of organisms. The genotype of an organism is the class to which that organism belongs as determined by the description of the actual physical material made up of DNA that was passed to the organism by its parents at the organism's conception. For sexually reproducing organisms that physical material consists of the DNA contributed to the fertilized egg by the sperm and egg of its (...) two parents. For asexually reproducing organisms, for example bacteria, the inherited material is a direct copy of the DNA of its parent. The phenotype of an organism is the class to which that organism belongs as determined by the description of the physical and behavioral characteristics of the organism, for example its size and shape, its metabolic activities and its pattern of movement. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to offer a critical approach to the theory of autopoiesis in order to see how it challenges mainstream Darwinism. In the first part of the paper, I characterize Darwinism from the concepts of natural selection, heredity, reproduction, and evolution. This characterization is absolutely schematic, and I hope not controversial at all, since my aim is to provide a general background for the discussion of the rest of the paper. The second part presents the (...) main tenets of the theory of autopoiesis, also paying special attention to the concepts of natural selection, heredity, reproduction, and evolution. The third and final part considers some criticisms that have been directed against the theory and suggests some new ones. As I said, my intention is to offer a critical approach, so that I pretend to assess neither autopoiesis nor Darwinism. The assessment, it seems to me, would be a matter of scientific debate—not properly of philosophy. Therefore, given that my approach attempts to be a conceptual clarification, my contribution to the contemporary debate about Darwinism is twofold. On the one hand, I show that conceptually autopoiesis constitutes an important challenge to Darwinism, but on the other, I also show that some fundamental aspects of the theory appear to be both epistemologically and empirically problematic, which perhaps helps to understand why autopoiesis is not widely accepted in mainstream Darwinism. (shrink)
Part I includes pieces by Phillip Sloan on how Darwin theorized evolution, Jon Hodge on the Notebooks and the years Darwin spent in London after the voyage of the Beagle , and essays on Darwin’s views on heredity (Jim Endersby), on mind and the emotions (Robert Richards) and the argument structure of the Origin (Ken Waters). All of these are excellent and nuanced, and well referenced, written by leading specialists on each topic. Endersby’s essay in particular introduced me to (...) material I hadn’t previously encountered. (shrink)
The themes, problems and challenges of developmental systems theory as described in Cycles of Contingency are discussed. We argue in favor of a robust approach to philosophical and scientific problems of extended heredity and the integration of behavior, development, inheritance, and evolution. Problems with Sterelny's proposal to evaluate inheritance systems using his `Hoyle criteria' are discussed and critically evaluated. Additional support for a developmental systems perspective is sought in evolutionary studies of performance and behavior modulation of fitness.
Developmental systems theory (DST) expands the unit of replication from genes to whole systems of developmental resources, which DST interprets in terms of cycling developmental processes. Expansion seems required by DST's argument against privileging genes in evolutionary and developmental explanations of organic traits. DST and the expanded replicator brook no distinction between biological and cultural evolution. However, by endorsing a single expanded unit of inheritance and leaving the classical molecular notion of gene intact, DST achieves only a nominal reunification of (...)heredity and development. I argue that an alternative conceptualization of inheritance denies the classical opposition of genetics and development while avoiding the singularity inherent in the replicator concept. It also yields a new unit--the reproducer--which genuinely integrates genetic and developmental perspectives. The reproducer concept articulates the non-separability of "genetic" and "developmental" roles in units of heredity, development, and evolution. DST reformulated in terms of reproducers rather than replicators preserves an empirically interesting distinction between cultural and biological evolution. (shrink)
In earlier work I have argued that the most substantial threat to scientific realism arises from the problem of unconceived alternatives: the repeated failure of past scientists and scientific communities to conceive of alternatives to extant scientific theories, even when such alternatives were both (1) well confirmed by the evidence available at the time and (2) sufficiently scientifically serious as to be later embraced by actual scientific communities. In this paper I explore Charles Darwin's development and defense of his ‘pangenesis’ (...) theory of inheritance and conclude that this particular historical example offers impressive support for the challenge posed to realism by this problem of unconceived alternatives. Introduction Darwin and pangenesis: The search for the material basis of generation and heredity A crucial unconceived alternative: common-cause mechanisms of inheritance Galton and common-cause inheritance Conclusion. (shrink)
Despite the high profile of evolutionary explanations of human behaviour, their status remains highly disputed. Are all evolutionary explanations of human behaviour sensational 'just so' stories, or is there a proper science of sociobiology? Sense and Nonsense provides an answer to this question by assessing the legitimacy of a range of evolutionary approaches to human behaviour.
Both biologists and philosophers often make use of simple verbal formulations of necessary and sufficient conditions for evolution by natural selection (ENS). Such summaries go back to Darwin's Origin of Species (especially the "Recapitulation"), but recent ones are more compact.1 Perhaps the most commonly cited formulation is due to Lewontin.2 These summaries tend to have three or four conditions, where the core requirement is a combination of variation, heredity, and fitness differences. The summaries are employed in several ways. First, (...) they are often used in pedagogical contexts, and in showing the coherence of evolutionary theory in response to attacks from outside biology. Second, they are important in discussions of extensions of evolutionary principles to new domains, such as cultural change. The summaries also have intrinsic scientific and philosophical interest as attempts to capture some core principles of evolutionary theory in a highly concise way. Despite their prominence, both the proper formulation and status of these summaries are unclear. Standard formulations are subject to counterexamples, and their relations to formal models of evolutionary change are not straightforward. Here I look closely at these verbal summaries, and at how they relate to formal models. Are the summaries merely rough approximations that have no theoretical role of their own? Perhaps they could operate as theoretical statements in Darwin's time, but have now been superseded by more exact treatments. (shrink)
Philip Kitcher is one of the leading figures in the philosophy of science today. Here he collects, for the first time, many of his published articles on the philosophy of biology, spanning from the mid-1980's to the present. The book's title refers to Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian monk who was one of the first scientists to develop a theory of heredity. Mendel's work has been deeply influential to our understanding of our selves and our world, just as the study (...) of genetics today will have a profound and long-term impact on future scientific research. Kitcher's articles cover a broad range of topics with similar philosophical and social significance: sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, species, race, altruism, genetic determinism, and the rebirth of creationism in Intelligent Design. Kitcher's work on the intersection of biology and the philosophy of science is both unprecedented and wide-ranging, and will appeal not only to philosophers of science, but to scholars and students across disciplines. (shrink)
This paper describes the historical background and early formation of Wilhelm Johannsen's distinction between genotype and phenotype. It is argued that contrary to a widely accepted interpretation (For instance, W. Provine, 1971. "The Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics". Chicago: The University of Chicago Press; Mayr, 1973; F. B. Churchill, 1974. "Journal of the History of Biology" 7: 5-30; E. Mayr, 1982. "The Growth of Biological Thought," Cambridge: Harvard University Press; J. Sapp, 2003. Genesis. "The Evolution of Biology". New York: Oxford (...) University Press) his concepts referred primarily to properties of individual organisms and not to statistical averages. Johannsen's concept of genotype was derived from the idea of species in the tradition of biological systematics from Linnaeus to de Vries: An individual belonged to a group - species, subspecies, elementary species - by representing a certain underlying type (S. Müller-Wille and V. Orel, 2007. "Annals of Science" 64: 171-215). Johannsen sharpened this idea theoretically in the light of recent biological discoveries, not least those of cytology. He tested and confirmed it experimentally combining the methods of biometry, as developed by Francis Galton, with the individual selection method and pedigree analysis, as developed for instance by Louis Vilmorin. The term "genotype" was introduced in W. Johannsen's 1909 ("Elemente der Exakten Erblichkeitslehre". Jena: Gustav Fischer) treatise, but the idea of a stable underlying biological "type" distinct from observable properties was the core idea of his classical bean selection experiment published 6 years earlier (W. Johannsen, 1903. "Ueber Erblichkeit in Populationen und reinen Linien". "Eine Beitrag zur Beleuchtung schwebender Selektionsfragen," Jena: Gustav Fischer, pp. 58-59). The individual ontological foundation of population analysis was a self-evident presupposition in Johannsen's studies of heredity in populations from their start in the early 1890s till his death in 1927. The claim that there was a "substantial but cautious modification of Johannsen's phenotype-genotype distinction" (Churchill, 1974, p. 24) from a statistical to an individual ontological perspective derives from a misreading of the 1903 and 1909 texts. The immediate purpose of this paper is to correct this reading of the 1903 monograph by showing how its problems and results grow out of Johannsen's earlier work in heredity and plant breeding. Johannsen presented his famous selection experiment as the culmination of a line of criticism of orthodox Darwinism by William Bateson, Hugo de Vries, and others (Johannsen, 1903). They had argued that evolution is based on stepwise rather than continuous change in heredity. Johannsen's paradigmatic experiment showed how stepwise variation in heredity could be operationally distinguished from the observable, continuous morphological variation. To test Galton's law of partial regression, Johannsen deliberately chose pure lines of self-fertilizing plants, a pure line being the descendants in successive generations of one single individual. Such a population could be assumed to be highly homogeneous with respect to hereditary type, and Johannsen found that selection produced no change in this type. Galton, he explained, had experimented with populations composed of a number of stable hereditary types. The partial regression which Galton found was simply an effect of selection between types, increasing the proportion of some types at the expense of others. (shrink)
This book examines the early modern science of generation, which included the study of animal conception, heredity, and fetal development. Analyzing how it influenced the contemporary treatment of traditional philosophical questions, it also demonstrates how philosophical presuppositions about mechanism, substance, and cause informed the interpretations offered by those conducting empirical research on animal reproduction. Composed of cutting-edge essays written by an international team of leading scholars, the book offers a fresh perspective on some of the basic problems in early (...) modern philosophy. (shrink)
This paper examines conceptual issues that arise in applications of Darwinian natural selection to cultural systems. I argue that many criticisms of cultural selectionist models have been based on an over-detailed reading of the analogy between biological and cultural units of selection. I identify five of the most powerful objections to cultural selection theory and argue that none cuts to its heart. Some objections are based on mistaken assumptions about the simplicity of the mechanisms of biological heredity. Other objections (...) are attributable, rather, to mistaken inferences from observations of biological subject matter to what is essential in natural selection. I argue that such features are idiosyncratic of biological systems, but not essential for natural selection. My arguments throughout are illustrated by examples from biological and cultural evolution, and counter-factual illustrations from the history of theoretical biology. Introduction Cultural Selection Theory First Objection: Lamarckianism Second Objection: Genotype–Phenotype Distinction Third Objection: Common Hereditary Architecture Fourth Objection: Biological Analogue for Cultural Units 6.1 Regarding strict analogues 6.2 Regarding the trait analogue 6.3 Regarding the virus analogue Fifth Objection: Environmental Interaction Conclusion CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Textbook descriptions of the foundations of Genetics give the impression that besides Mendel’s no other research on heredity took place during the nineteenth century. However, the publication of the Origin of Species in 1859, and the criticism that it received, placed the study of heredity at the centre of biological thought. Consequently, Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin himself, Francis Galton, William Keith Brooks, Carl von Nägeli, August Weismann, and Hugo de Vries attempted to develop theories of heredity under (...) an evolutionary perspective, and they were all influenced by each other in various ways. Nonetheless, only Nägeli became aware of Mendel’s experimental work; it has also been questioned whether Mendel even had the intention to develop a theory of heredity. In this article, a short presentation of these theories is made, based on the original writings. The major aim of this article is to suggest that Mendel was definitely not the only one studying heredity before 1900, if he even did this, as may be inferred by textbooks. Although his work had a major impact after 1900, it had no impact during the latter half of the nineteenth century when an active community of students of heredity emerged. Thus, textbooks should not only present the work of Mendel, but also provide a wider view of the actual history and a depiction of science as a social process. (shrink)
The notion of stakeholder salience based on attributes (e.g., power, legitimacy, urgency) is applied in the family business setting. We argue that where principal institutions intersect (i.e., family and business); managerial perceptions of stakeholder salience will be different and more complex than where institutions are based on a single dominant logic. We propose that (1) whereas utilitarian power is more likely in the general business case, normative power is more typical in family business stakeholder salience; (2) whereas in a general (...) business context legitimacy is socially constructed; for family stakeholders, legitimacy is based on heredity; and (3) whereas temporality and criticality are somewhat independent in general-business urgency, they are linked in the family business case because of family ties and family-centered non-economic goals. We apply this theoretical framework to position and integrate the contributions to this special section of Business Ethics Quarterly on “Stakeholder Theory, Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Family Enterprise.”. (shrink)
Systems Biology and the Modern Synthesis are recent versions of two classical biological paradigms that are known as structuralism and functionalism, or internalism and externalism. According to functionalism (or externalism), living matter is a fundamentally passive entity that owes its organization to external forces (functions that shape organs) or to an external organizing agent (natural selection). Structuralism (or internalism), is the view that living matter is an intrinsically active entity that is capable of organizing itself from within, with purely internal (...) processes that are based on mathematical principles and physical laws. At the molecular level, the basic mechanism of the Modern Synthesis is molecular copying, the process that leads in the short run to heredity and in the long run to natural selection. The basic mechanism of Systems Biology, instead, is self-assembly, the process by which many supramolecular structures are formed by the spontaneous aggregation of their components. In addition to molecular copying and self-assembly, however, molecular biology has uncovered also a third great mechanism at the heart of life. The existence of the genetic code and of many other organic codes in Nature tells us that molecular coding is a biological reality and we need therefore a framework that accounts for it. This framework is Code biology, the study of the codes of life, a new field of research that brings to light an entirely new dimension of the living world and gives us a completely new understanding of the origin and the evolution of life. (shrink)
Today there are two major theoretical frameworks in biology. One is the ‘chemical paradigm’, the idea that life is an extremely complex form of chemistry. The other is the ‘information paradigm’, the view that life is not just ‘chemistry’ but ‘chemistry-plus-information’. This implies the existence of a fundamental difference between information and chemistry, a conclusion that is strongly supported by the fact that information and information-based-processes like heredity and natural selection simply do not exist in the world of chemistry. (...) Against this conclusion, the supporters of the chemical paradigm have pointed out that information processes are no different from chemical processes because they are both described by the same physical quantities. They may appear different, but this is only because they take place in extremely complex systems. According to the chemical paradigm, in other words, biological information is but a shortcut term that we use to avoid long descriptions of countless chemical reactions. It is intuitively appealing, but it does not represent a new ontological entity. It is merely a derived construct, a linguistic metaphor. The supporters of the information paradigm insist that information is a real and fundamental entity of Nature, but have not been able to prove this point. The result is that the chemical view has not been abandoned and the two paradigms are both coexisting today. Here it is shown that an alternative does exist and is a third theoretical framework that is referred to as the ‘code paradigm’. The key point is that we need to introduce in biology not only the concept of information but also that of meaning because any code is based on meaning and a genetic code does exist in every cell. The third paradigm is the view that organic information and organic meaning exist in every living system because they are the inevitable results of the processes of copying and coding that produce genes and proteins. Their true nature has eluded us for a long time because they are nominable entities, i.e., objective and reproducible observables that can be described only by naming their components in their natural order. They have also eluded us because nominable entities exist only in artifacts and biologists have not yet come to terms with the idea that life is artifact making. This is the idea that life arose from matter and yet it is fundamentally different from it because inanimate matter is made of spontaneous structures whereas life is made of manufactured objects. It will be shown, furthermore, that the existence of information and meaning in living systems is documented by the standard procedures of science. We do not have to abandon the scientific method in order to introduce meaning in biology. All we need is a science that becomes fully aware of the existence of organic codes in Nature. (shrink)
Communication is an important feature of the living world that mainstream biology fails to adequately deal with. Applying two main disciplines can be contemplated to fill in this gap: semiotics and information theory. Semiotics is a philosophical discipline mainly concerned with meaning; applying it to life already originated in biosemiotics. Information theory is a mathematical discipline coming from engineering which has literal communication as purpose. Biosemiotics and information theory are thus concerned with distinct and complementary possible meanings of the word (...) ‘communication’. Since literal communication needs to be secured so as to enable semantics being communicated, information theory is a necessary prerequisite to biosemiotics. Moreover, heredity is a purely literal communication process of capital importance fully relevant to literal communication, hence to information theory. A short introduction to discrete information theory is proposed, which is centred on the concept of redundancy and its use in order to make sequences resilient to errors. Information theory has been an extremely active and fruitful domain of researches and the motor of the tremendous progress of communication engineering in the last decades. Its possible connections with semantics and linguistics are briefly considered. Its applications to biology are suggested especially as regards error-correcting codes which are mandatory for securing the conservation of genomes. Biology needs information theory so biologists and communication engineers should closely collaborate. (shrink)
To some, a misguided Lamarckian and a fraud, to others a martyr in the fight against Darwinism, the Viennese zoologist Paul Kammerer (1880-1926) remains one of the most controversial scientists of the early 20th century. Here his work is reconsidered in light of turn-of-the-century problems in evolutionary theory and experimental methodology, as seen from Kammerer's perspective in Vienna. Kammerer emerges not as an opponent of Darwinism, but as one would-be modernizer of the 19th-century theory, which had included a role for (...) the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Kammerer attempted a synthesis of Darwinism with genetics and the chromosome theory, while retaining the modifying effects of the environment as the main source of favorable variation, and he developed his program of experimentation to support it. Kammerer never had a regular university position, but worked at a private experimental laboratory, with sidelines as a teacher and a popular writer and lecturer. On the lecture circuit he held forth on the significance of his science for understanding and furthering cultural evolution and he satisfied his passion for the arts and performance. In his dual career as researcher and popularizer, he did not always follow academic convention. In the contentious and rapidly changing fields of heredity and evolution, some of his stances and practices, as well as his outsider status and part-Jewish background, aroused suspicion and set the stage for the scandal that ended his career and prompted his suicide. (shrink)
There is probably only one information system in living nature — the macromolecular system including DNA, RNA and protein. Its unity for the genetic and nervous activity can be followed in the storage of information (heredity, memory) and in its processing (recombination and selection of both genetic and mental information). According to the hypothesis of the code of nerve impulses, nucleotide triplets of the nucleus, or more likely amino acids of the surface protein of the impulse generating area of (...) a neuron, generate a limited variety of interspike intervals so that each amino acid corresponds to a certain interspike interval and this particular interval initiates by means of a specific neurotransmitter, the synthesis of the same amino acid (or nucleotide triplet) in the postsynaptic neuron. Thus, a series of impulses produces in the postsynaptic neuron a sequence of amino acids in a form of a polypeptide identical to the polypeptide of the presynaptic neuron. (shrink)
We develop a predicate logical extension of a subintuitionistic propositional logic. Therefore a Hilbert type calculus and a Kripke type model are given. The propositional logic is formulated to axiomatize the idea of strategic weakening of Kripke''s semantic for intuitionistic logic: dropping the semantical condition of heredity or persistence leads to a nonmonotonic model. On the syntactic side this leads to a certain restriction imposed on the deduction theorem. By means of a Henkin argument strong completeness is proved making (...) use of predicate logical principles, which are only classically acceptable. (shrink)
Genetics was established on a strict particulate conception of heredity. Genetic linkage, the deviation from independent segregation of Mendelian factors, was conceived as a function of the material allocation of the factors to the chromosomes, rather than to the multiple effects (pleiotropy) of discrete factors. Although linkage maps were abstractions they provided strong support for the chromosomal theory of inheritance. Direct Cytogenetic evidence was scarce until X-ray induced major chromosomal rearrangements allowed direct correlation of genetic and cytological rearrangements. Only (...) with the discovery of the polytenic giant chromosomes in Drosophila larvae in the 1930s were the virtual maps backed up by physical maps of the genetic loci. Genetic linkage became a pivotal experimental tool for the examination of the integration of genetic functions in development and in evolution. Genetic mapping has remained a hallmark of genetic analysis. The location of genes in DNA is a modern extension of the notion of genetic linkage. (shrink)
This paper discusses the widespread use of heritability calculations in recent behaviour research including behaviour genetics. In the sequel, a radical criticism concerning the basic axioms of the underlying, more general concept itself is presented. The starting point for testing the proclaimed universal validity of this concept stems from a fictitious yet realistic example taken from learning research. The theoretical result, based on the application of the conventional reasoning in this field, states that developmental processes — and learning is only (...) one specific case out of an immense number of similar behavioural mechanisms — can neither be adequately described nor causally explained with sufficient reliability within the context of the heredity paradigm. On the contrary, an inherent inconsistency of the concept itself when applied to behaviour processes is demonstrated. Finally, a conceptual alternative involving a systems-theoretical approach to the problem is presented: In such a perspective it is the concept of cognition which represents the adequate explanatory theorem - a theorem in which quantitative processing of information from the environment is clearly revealed to belong to a subordinate level of living organization. (shrink)
Homer, Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy; Curie, Darwin, Einstein, Galileo, and Newton. What do these world-famous artists and scientists have in common?- apart from the fact that their achievements predate our own time by a century or more. Most of us would probably answer: all ten possessed something we call genius, which in each instance permanently changed the way that humanity perceived the world. But pressed to be more precise, we find it remarkably hard to define genius. -/- (...) Genius is highly individual and unique, of course, yet it shares a compelling, inevitable quality for professionals and the general public alike. Darwin's ideas are still required reading for every working biologist; they continue to generate fresh thinking and experiments around the world. So do Einstein's theories among physicists. Shakespeare's plays and Mozart's melodies and harmonies continue to move people in languages and cultures far removed from their native England and Austria. Contemporary 'geniuses' may come and go, but the idea of genius will not let go of us. Genius is the name we give to a quality of work that transcends fashion, celebrity, fame, and reputation: the opposite of a period piece. Somehow, genius abolishes both the time and the place of its origin. -/- This Very Short Introduction uses the life and work of familiar geniuses-and some less familiar-to illuminate both the individual and the general aspects of genius. In particular: the roles of talent, heredity, parenting, education, training, hard work, intelligence, personality, mental illness, inspiration, eureka moments, and luck, in the making of genius. (shrink)
Scientific monism.--Evolution as a psycho-physical process.--Purpose.--The conceptual limit.--Factors of moral responsibility.--Social welfare.--Justice.--Heredity.--Environment.--Perception.--Psychic determinism.--The associative principle in evolution.--The origin and development of morals.--The intuitional factor in morals.--Necessary truths.--Relativity in the moral world.
Scribal copying is investigated as a test case for the memetic and epidemiological models for explaining the distribution of cultural items. We may hypothesize that the incidence of errors could be low enough to allow two conditions for neo-Darwinian explanation (or an analogue of it) to be fulfilled: first, that there be a rather reliable mechanism for heredity, and second that occasional mutations might produce a version more likely to survive and be propagated than the exemplar. Scriptorial conventions are (...) reviewed. Textual criticism is investigated. Finally, some attention is given to the psychology of language perception and production. In conclusion, it is argued that the memetic model for cultural transmission is not generally fecund while the epidemiological model is. (shrink)
In this book, Weikart helps unlock the mystery of Hitler’s evil by vividly demonstrating the surprising conclusion that Hitler’s immorality flowed from a coherent ethic. Hitler was inspired by evolutionary ethics to pursue the utopian project of biologically improving the human race. This ethic underlay or influenced almost every major feature of Nazi policy: eugenics (i.e., measures to improve human heredity, including compulsory sterilization), euthanasia, racism, population expansion, offensive warfare, and racial extermination.