In the discussion about consequences of the release of genetically modified (GM) crops, the meaning of the term “environmental damage” is difficult to pin down. We discuss some established concepts and criteria for understanding and evaluating such damages. Focusing on the concepts of familiarity, biological integrity, and ecosystem health, we argue that, for the most part, these concepts are highly ambiguous. While environmental damage is mostly understood as significant adverse effects on conservation resources, these concepts may not relate directly to (...) effects on tangible natural resources but rather to parameters of land use or ecological processes (e.g., the concept of biological integrity). We stress the importance of disclosing the normative assumptions underlying damage concepts and procedures for the evaluation of damages by GM crops. A conceptualization of environmental damage should precede its operationalization. We recommend an unambiguous definition for damage developed earlier and recommend that evaluation criteria be based on this. However, a general damage definition cannot replace case-specific operationalization of damage, which remains an important future challenge. (shrink)
The central aim of this essay is to put forward a notion of naturalism that broadly aligns with pragmatism. I do so by outlining my views on natural kinds and my account of concepts, which I have defended in recent publications (Brigandt 2009, in press-b). Philosophical accounts of both natural kinds and concepts are usually taken to be metaphysical endeavours, which attempt to develop a theory of the nature of natural kinds (as objectively existing entities of the world) or of (...) the nature of concepts (as objectively existing mental entities). However, I shall argue that any account of natural kinds or concepts must answer to epistemological questions as well and will offer a both pragmatist and naturalistic defence of my views on natural kinds and concepts. Many philosophers conceive of naturalism as a primarily metaphysical doctrine, such as a commitment to a physicalist ontology or the idea that humans and their intellectual and moral capacities are a part of nature. Sometimes such legitimate views motivate a more contentious philosophical program that maintains that any philosophical notion ought to be defined in a purely physicalist vocabulary (e.g., by putting forward a theory of concepts and intentional states that does not define them in terms of intentional notions). We will see that I reject this latter project (which is naturalistic in some sense) on naturalistic grounds, as science does not aim at developing reductive definitions. Rather than naturalism as a metaphysical doctrine, more germane to my account is a methodological type of naturalism. Here the idea is that some aspects of scientific method and practice should be used by philosophers in their attempts to develop philosophical accounts. I will illustrate this naturalistic method by laying out how philosophers can and ought to develop philosophical notions without Ingo Brigandt 2.. (shrink)
International Non-governmental Organizations (INGOs) face difficult choices when choosing to allocate resources. Given that the resources made available to INGOs fall far short of what is needed to reduce massive human rights deficits, any chosen scheme of resource allocation requires failing to reach other individuals in great need. Facing these moral opportunity costs, what moral reasons should guide INGO resource allocation? Two reasons that clearly matter, and are recognized by philosophers and development practitioners, are the consequences (or benefit or (...) harm reduction) of any given resource allocation and the need (or priority) of individual beneficiaries. If accepted, these reasons should lead INGOs to allocate resources to a limited number of countries where the most prioritarian weighted harm reduction will be achieved. I make three critiques against this view. First, on grounds the consequentialist accepts, I argue that INGOs ought to maintain a reasonably wide distribution of resources. Second, I argue that even if one is a consequentialist, consequentialism ought not act as an action guiding principle for INGOs. Third, I argue that additional moral reasons should influence decision making about INGO resource allocation. Namely, INGO decision making should attend to relational reasons, desert, respect for agency, concern for equity, and the importance of expressing a view of moral wrongs. (shrink)
The statesman Cicero (106-43 BC) left behind a corpus of about 50 orations, all designed as interventions in the legal and political struggles that marked the final decades of the Roman republic. Ever since their publication during his lifetime they have functioned as models of eloquence. However, they also contain profound philosophical thoughts on the question of being human, on politics, society, and culture, and on the sphere of the divine. Now, for the first time, Ingo Gildenhard systematically analyses (...) this dimension of Cicero's oratory and, in so doing, touches upon many key issues and concepts that still preoccupy us today, such as the ethics of happiness or the notion of conscience, the distinction between civilization and barbarity, or the problem of divine justice. (shrink)
Essentialism is widely regarded as a mistaken view of biological kinds, such as species. After recounting why (sections 2-3), we provide a brief survey of the chief responses to the “death of essentialism” in the philosophy of biology (section 4). We then develop one of these responses, the claim that biological kinds are homeostatic property clusters (sections 5-6) illustrating this view with several novel examples (section 7). Although this view was first expressed 20 years ago, and has received recent discussion (...) and critique, it remains underdeveloped and is often misrepresented by its critics (section 8). (shrink)
This essay analyzes and develops recent views about explanation in biology. Philosophers of biology have parted with the received deductive-nomological model of scientific explanation primarily by attempting to capture actual biological theorizing and practice. This includes an endorsement of different kinds of explanation (e.g., mathematical and causal-mechanistic), a joint study of discovery and explanation, and an abandonment of models of theory reduction in favor of accounts of explanatory reduction. Of particular current interest are philosophical accounts of complex explanations that appeal (...) to different levels of organismal organization and use contributions from different biological disciplines. The essay lays out one model that views explanatory integration across different disciplines as being structured by scientific problems. I emphasize the philosophical need to take the explanatory aims pursued by different groups of scientists into account, as explanatory aims determine whether different explanations are competing or complementary and govern the dynamics of scientific practice, including interdisciplinary research. I distinguish different kinds of pluralism that philosophers have endorsed in the context of explanation in biology, and draw several implications for science education, especially the need to teach science as an interdisciplinary and dynamic practice guided by scientific problems and explanatory aims. (shrink)
The theory of concepts advanced in the present discussion 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. To this end, I suggest that each scientific concept consists of three components of content: 1) the concept.
Despite the traditional focus on metaphysical issues in discussions of natural kinds in biology, epistemological considerations are at least as important. By revisiting the debate as to whether taxa are kinds or individuals, I argue that both accounts are metaphysically compatible, but that one or the other approach can be pragmatically preferable depending on the epistemic context. Recent objections against construing species as homeostatic property cluster kinds are also addressed. The second part of the paper broadens the perspective by considering (...) homologues as another example of natural kinds, comparing them with analogues as functionally defined kinds. Given that there are various types of natural kinds, I discuss the different theoretical purposes served by diverse kind concepts, suggesting that there is no clear-cut distinction between natural kinds and other kinds, such as functional kinds. Rather than attempting to offer a unique metaphysical account of ‘natural’ kind, a more fruitful approach consists in the epistemological study of how different natural kind concepts are employed in scientific reasoning. (shrink)
This chapter offers a critique of intelligent design arguments against evolution and a philosophical discussion of the nature of science, drawing several lessons for the teaching of evolution and for science education in general. I discuss why Behe’s irreducible complexity argument fails, and why his portrayal of organismal systems as machines is detrimental to biology education and any under-standing of how organismal evolution is possible. The idea that the evolution of complex organismal features is too unlikely to have occurred by (...) random mutation and selection (as recently promoted by Dembski) is very widespread, but it is easy to show students why such small probability arguments are fallacious. While intelligent design proponents have claimed that the exclusion of supernatural causes mandated by scientific methods is dogmatically presupposed by science, scientists have an empirical justification for using such methods. This justification is instructive for my discussion of how to demarcate science from pseudoscience. I argue that there is no universal account of the nature of science, but that the criteria used to judge an intellectual approach vary across historical periods and have to be specific to the scientific domain. Moreover, intellectual approaches have to be construed as practices based on institutional factors and values, and to be evaluated in terms of the activities of their practitioners. Science educators should not just teach scientific facts, but present science as a practice and make students reflect on the nature of science, as this gives them a better appreciation of the ways in which intelligent design falls short of actual science. (shrink)
The discussion presents a framework of concepts that is intended to account for the rationality of semantic change and variation, suggesting 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 components, and that change in the concept’s inferential role and reference can be accounted for as being rational relative (...) to the third component, the concept’s epistemic goal. This framework is illustrated and defended by application to the history of the gene concept. It is explained how the molecular gene concept grew rationally out of the classical gene concept despite a change in reference, and why the use and reference of the contemporary molecular gene concept may legitimately vary from context to context. (shrink)
The paper works towards an account of explanatory integration in biology, using as a case study explanations of the evolutionary origin of novelties-a problem requiring the integration of several biological fields and approaches. In contrast to the idea that fields studying lower level phenomena are always more fundamental in explanations, I argue that the particular combination of disciplines and theoretical approaches needed to address a complex biological problem and which among them is explanatorily more fundamental varies with the problem pursued. (...) Solving a complex problem need not require theoretical unification or the stable synthesis of different biological fields, as items of knowledge from traditional disciplines can be related solely for the purposes of a specific problem. Apart from the development of genuine interfield theories, successful integration can be effected by smaller epistemic units (concepts, methods, explanations) being linked. Unification or integration is not an aim in itself, but needed for the aim of solving a particular scientific problem, where the problem's nature determines the kind of intellectual integration required. (shrink)
Whereas an inference (deductive as well as inductive) is usually viewed as being valid in virtue of its argument form, the present paper argues that scientific reasoning is material inference, i.e., justified in virtue of its content. A material inference is licensed by the empirical content embodied in the concepts contained in the premises and conclusion. Understanding scientific reasoning as material inference has the advantage of combining different aspects of scientific reasoning, such as confirmation, discovery, and explanation. This approach explains (...) why these different aspects (including discovery) can be rational without conforming to formal schemes, and why scientific reasoning is local, i.e., justified only in certain domains and contingent on particular empirical facts. The notion of material inference also fruitfully interacts with accounts of conceptual change and psychological theories of concepts. (shrink)
Taxa and homologues can in our view be construed both as kinds and as individuals. However, the conceptualization of taxa as natural kinds in the sense of homeostatic property cluster kinds has been criticized by some systematists, as it seems that even such kinds cannot evolve due to their being homeostatic. We reply by arguing that the treatment of transformational and taxic homologies, respectively, as dynamic and static aspects of the same homeostatic property cluster kind represents a good perspective for (...) supporting the conceptualization of taxa as kinds. The focus on a phenomenon of homology based on causal processes (e.g., connectivity, activity-function, genetics, inheritance, and modularity) and implying relationship with modification yields a notion of natural kinds conforming to the phylogenetic-evolutionary framework. Nevertheless, homeostatic property cluster kinds in taxonomic and evolutionary practice must be rooted in the primacy of epistemological classification (homology as observational properties) over metaphysical generalization (series of transformation and common ancestry as unobservational processes). The perspective of individuating characters exclusively by historical-transformational independence instead of their developmental, structural, and functional independence fails to yield a sufficient practical interplay between theory and observation. Purely ontological and ostensional perspectives in evolution and phylogeny (e.g., an ideographic character concept and PhyloCode’s ‘individualism’ of clades) may be pragmatically contested in the case of urgent issues in biodiversity research, conservation, and systematics. (shrink)
The purpose of the paper is twofold. I first outline a philosophical theory of concepts based on conceptual role semantics. This approach is explicitly intended as a framework for the study and explanation of conceptual change in science. Then I point to the close similarities between this philosophical framework and the theory theory of concepts, suggesting that a convergence between psychological and philosophical approaches to concepts is possible. An underlying theme is to stress that using a non-atomist account of concepts (...) is crucial for the successful study of conceptual development and change. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Marc Ereshefsky argues that pluralism about species suggests that the species concept is not theoretically useful. It is to be abandoned in favor of several concrete species concepts that denote real categories. While accepting species pluralism, the present paper rejects eliminativism about the species category. It is argued that the species concept is important and that it is possible to make sense of a general species concept despite the existence of different concrete species concepts.
The philosophy of science that grew out of logical positivism construed scientific knowledge in terms of set of interconnected beliefs about the world, such as theories and observation statements. Nowadays science is also conceived of as a dynamic process based on the various practices of individual scientists and the institutional settings of science. Two features particularly influence the dynamics of scientific knowledge: epistemic standards and aims (e.g., assumptions about what issues are currently in need of scientific study and explanation). While (...) scientific beliefs are representations of the world, scientific standards and aims are epistemic values. The relevance of epistemic aims and values for belief change has been previously recognized. My paper makes a similar point for scientific concepts, both by studying how an individual concept changes (in its semantic properties) and by viewing epistemic aims and values tied to individual concepts. (shrink)
The paper discusses reference determination from the point of view of conceptual change in science. The first part of the discussion uses the homology concept, a natural kind term from biology, as an example. It is argued that the causal theory of reference gives an incomplete account of reference determination even in the case of natural kind terms. Moreover, even if descriptions of the referent are taken into account, this does not yield a satisfactory account of reference in the case (...) of the homology concept. I suggest that in addition to the factors that standard theories of reference invoke the scientific use of concepts and the epistemic interests pursued with concepts are important factors in determining the reference of scientific concepts. In the second part, I argue for a moderate holism about reference determination according to which the set of conditions that determine the reference of a concept is relatively open and different conditions may be reference fixing depending on the context in which this concept is used. It is also suggested that which features are reference determining in a particular case may depend on the philosophical interests that underlie reference ascription and the study of conceptual change. (shrink)
Recently theorists have demonstrated a growing interest in the ethical aspects of resource allocation in international non-governmental humanitarian, development and human rights organizations (INGOs). This article provides an analysis of Thomas Pogge's proposal for how international human rights organizations ought to choose which projects to fund. Pogge's allocation principle states that ?an INGO should govern its decision making about candidate projects by such rules and procedures as are expected to maximize its long-run cost-effectiveness, defined as the expected aggregate moral (...) value of the projects it undertakes divided by the expected aggregate cost of these projects? (2007. Moral priorities for international human rights NGOs. In Ethics in action, ed. D. Bell and J. Coicaud, 218?56. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 241). I critique Pogge's argument on two fronts: (1) I demonstrate that his view is problematic on his own terms, even if we accept the cost-effectiveness framework he employs. (2) I take issue with his overall approach because it generates results which can undermine the integrity of INGOs. Further, his approach mis-characterizes the nature of INGOs, and this mistake is at the root of his problematic view of INGO priority-setting. Ultimately, I argue for a conception of INGOs in which they are understood as ?organizations of principle?, in the sense that they are independent moral agents and so should be permitted a fairly wide sphere of autonomy within reasonable moral constraints. (shrink)
The paper discusses concept individuation in the context of scientific concepts and conceptual change in science. It is argued that some concepts can be individuated in different ways. A particular term may be viewed as corresponding to a single concept (which is ascribed to every person from a whole scientific field). But at the same time, we can legitimately individuate in a more fine grained manner, i.e., this term can also be considered as corresponding to two or several concepts (so (...) that each of these concepts is attributed to a smaller group of persons only). The reason is that there are different philosophical and explanatory interests that underlie a particular study of the change of a scientific term. These interests determine how a concept is to be individuated; and as the same term can be subject to different philosophical studies and interests, its content can be individuated in different ways. (shrink)
This paper uses an example from biology, the homology concept, to argue that current versions of the causal theory of reference give an incomplete account of reference determination. It is suggested that in addition to samples and stereotypical properties, the scientific use of concepts and the epistemic interests pursued with concepts are important factors in determining the reference of natural kind terms.
When it became uncool to speak of beauty with respect to pieces of art, physicists started claiming that their results are beautiful. They say, for example, that a theory's beauty speaks in favour of its truth, and that they strive to perform beautiful experiments. What does that mean? The notion cannot be defined. (It cannot be defined in the arts either). Therefore, I elucidate it with examples of optical experimentation. Desaguliers' white synthesis, for example, is more beautiful than Newton's, and (...) the many colourful syntheses done by Viennese painter Ingo Nussbaumer exemplify even greater beauty. Here are some criteria (which, of course, do not implement a decision procedure concerning beauty in experiments): cleanliness, simplicity, intellectual clarity, symmetry. Similar criteria are relevant to our aesthetical judgements about some pieces of music. So we can assume that our notion of beauty conserning art is related to the one conserning scientific experiments. (shrink)
The present paper discusses Kitcher’s framework for studying conceptual change and progress. Kitcher’s core notion of reference potential is hard to apply to concrete cases. In addition, an account of conceptual change as change in reference potential misses some important aspects of conceptual change and conceptual progress. I propose an alternative framework that focuses on the inferences and explanations supported by scientific concepts. The application of my approach to the history of the gene concept offers a better account of the (...) conceptual progress that occurred in the transition from the Mendelian to the molecular gene than Kitcher’s theory. (shrink)
The concept of developmental constraint was at the heart of developmental approaches to evolution of the 1980s. While this idea was widely used to criticize neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, critique does not yield an alternative framework that offers evolutionary explanations. In current Evo-devo the concept of constraint is of minor importance, whereas notions as evolvability are at the center of attention. The latter clearly defines an explanatory agenda for evolutionary research, so that one could view the historical shift from ‘developmental constraint’ (...) towards ‘evolvability’ as the move from a concept that is a mere tool of criticism to a concept that establishes a positive explanatory project. However, by taking a look at how the concept of constraint was employed in the 1980s, I argue that developmental constraint was not just seen as restricting possibilities (‘constraining’), but also as facilitating morphological change in several ways. Accounting for macroevolutionary transformation and the origin of novel form was an aim of these developmental approaches to evolution. Thus, the concept of developmental constraint was part of a positive explanatory agenda long before the advent of Evo-devo as a genuine scientific discipline. In the 1980s, despite the lack of a clear disciplinary identity, this concept coordinated research among paleontologists, morphologists, and developmentally inclined evolutionary biologists. I discuss the different functions that scientific concepts can have, highlighting that instead of classifying or explaining natural phenomena, concepts such as ‘developmental constraint’ and ‘evolvability’ are more important in setting explanatory agendas so as to provide intellectual coherence to scientific approaches. The essay concludes with a puzzle about how to conceptually distinguish evolvability and selection. (shrink)
By linking the concepts of homology and morphological organization to evolvability, this paper attempts to (1) bridge the gap between developmental and phylogenetic approaches to homology and to (2) show that developmental constraints and natural selection are compatible and in fact complementary. I conceive of a homologue as a unit of morphological evolvability, i.e., as a part of an organism that can exhibit heritable phenotypic variation independently of the organism’s other homologues. An account of homology therefore consists in explaining how (...) an organism’s developmental constitution results in different homologues/characters as units that can evolve independently of each other. The explanans of an account of homology is developmental, yet the very explanandum is an evolutionary phenomenon: evolvability in a character-by-character fashion, which manifests itself in phylogenetic patterns as recognized by phylogenetic approaches to homology. While developmental constraints and selection have often been viewed as antagonistic forces, I argue that both are complementary as they concern different parts of the evolutionary process. Developmental constraints, conceived of as the presence of the same set of homologues across phenotypic change, pertain to how heritable variation can be generated in the first place (evolvability), while natural selection operates subsequently on the produced variation. (shrink)
This essay discusses Elliott Sober’s Evidence and Evolution: The Logic Behind the Science. Valuable to both philosophers and biologists, Sober analyzes the testing of different kinds of evolutionary hypotheses about natural selection or phylogenetic history, including a thorough critique of intelligent design. Not at least because of a discussion of different schools of hypothesis testing (Bayesianism, likelihoodism, and frequentism), with Sober favoring a pluralism where different inference methods are appropriate in different empirical contexts, the book has lessons for philosophy of (...) science beyond its evolutionary focus. I criticize Sober for not including epistemic values and social aspects of scientific practice in his epistemological framework. (shrink)
Today civil society groups are important actors on the international stage. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have taken roles that traditionally have been the sole province of states or intergovernmental institutions. NGOs are not bound to act in the public interest. Neither are their actions justified by formal democratic procedures, as is the case with states. Therefore, questioning the legitimacy of their actions is a crucial thing to do. This article presents the results of empirical research on the legitimacy of internationally operating (...) NGOs (INGOs). From the interview data seven types of legitimacy are distinguished. These do not give us a comprehensive categorisation of sources of legitimacy; rather they provide tools to counterbalance existing views of legitimacy. The aim is to develop concepts for evaluating the legitimacy of INGO activities which are grounded in theory as well as in practice. Before analysing the empirical results concerning NGO legitimacy, some views on civil society will be discussed with a focus on the problem of legitimacy. (shrink)
The present paper gives a philosophical analysis of the conceptual variation in the homology concept. It is argued that different homology concepts are used in evolutionary and comparative biology, in evolutionary developmental biology, and in molecular biology. The study uses conceptual role semantics, focusing on the inferences and explanations supported by concepts, as a heuristic tool to explain conceptual change. The differences between homology concepts are due to the fact that these concepts play different theoretical roles for different biological fields. (...) The specific theoretical needs and explanatory interests of different research approaches lead to different homology concepts. (shrink)
This overview of philosophy of biology lays out what implications biology and recent philosophy of biology have for general philosophy of science. The following topics are addressed in five sections: natural kinds, conceptual change, discovery and confirmation, explanation and reduction, and naturalism.
The present paper analyzes the use and understanding of the homology concept across different biological disciplines. It is argued that in its history, the homology concept underwent a sort of adaptive radiation. Once it migrated from comparative anatomy into new biological fields, the homology concept changed in accordance with the theoretical aims and interests of these disciplines. The paper gives a case study of the theoretical role that homology plays in comparative and evolutionary biology, in molecular biology, and in evolutionary (...) developmental biology. It is shown that the concept or variant of homology preferred by a particular biological field is used to bring about items of biological knowledge that are characteristic for this field. A particular branch of biology uses its homology concept to pursue its specific theoretical goals. (shrink)
Reductionism encompasses a set of ontological, epistemological, and methodological claims about the relation of different scientific domains. The basic question of reduction is whether the properties, concepts, explanations, or methods from one scientific domain (typically at higher levels of organization) can be deduced from or explained by the properties, concepts, explanations, or methods from another domain of science (typically one about lower levels of organization). Reduction is germane to a variety of issues in philosophy of science, including the structure of (...) scientific theories, the relations between different scientific disciplines, the nature of explanation, the diversity of methodology, and the very idea of theoretical progress, as well as to numerous topics in metaphysics and philosophy of mind, such as emergence, mereology, and supervenience. (shrink)
Ethology brought some crucial insights and perspectives to the study of behavior, in particular the idea that behavior can be studied within a comparative-evolutionary framework by means of homologizing components of behavioral patterns and by causal analysis of behavior components and their integration. Early ethology is well-known for its extensive use of qualitative observations of animals under their natural conditions. These observations are combined with experiments that try to analyze behavioral patterns and establish specific claims about animal behavior. Nowadays, there (...) is still disagreement about the significance of observation and experiments and their relation. (shrink)
This article reviews the recent reissuing of Richard Owen’s On the Nature of Limbs and its three novel, introductory essays. These essays make Owen’s 1849 text very accessible by discussing the historical context of his work and explaining how Owen’s ideas relate to his larger intellectual framework. In addition to the ways in which the essays point to Owen’s relevance for contemporary biology, I discuss how Owen’s unity of type theory and his homology claims about fins and limbs compare with (...) modern views. While the phenomena studied by Owen are nowadays of major interest to evolutionary developmental biology, research in evo-devo has largely shifted from homology (which was Owen’s concern) towards evolutionary novelty, e.g., accounting for fins as a novelty. Still, I argue that questions about homology are important and raise challenges even for explanations of novelty. (shrink)
<span class='Hi'>Reductionism</span> in the Philosophy of Science develops a novel account of reduction in science and applies it to the relationship between classical and molecular genetics. However, rather than addressing the epistemological issues that have been essential to the <span class='Hi'>reductionism</span> debate in philosophy of biology, the discussion primarily pursues ontological questions, as they are known, about reducing the mental to the physical. For Sachse construes <span class='Hi'>reductionism</span> as a purely philosophical endeavor and defends the possibility of reduction in principle, (...) which may not be relevant to understanding reductionist reasoning and explanation occurring in scientific practice, as discussed by philosophers of science. Likewise, the conceptual framework used stems more from metaphysics and philosophy of mind than philosophy of science. Sachse's aim is twofold. First, he argues for the special sciences' being reducible to physics, by deriving the in principle possibility of epistemological reduction from ontological reduction. Second, he attempts to simultaneously make room for the legitimacy of the special sciences, effecting a conservative reduction rather than an elimination of the special sciences. (shrink)
Reductionism in the Philosophy of Science develops a novel account of reduction in science and applies it to the relationship between classical and molecular genetics. However, rather than addressing the epistemological issues that have been essential to the reductionism debate in philosophy of biology, the discussion primarily pursues ontological questions, as they are known, about reducing the mental to the physical. For Sachse construes reductionism as a purely philosophical endeavor and defends the possibility of reduction in principle, which may not (...) be relevant to understanding reductionist reasoning and explanation occurring in scientific practice, as discussed by philosophers of science. Likewise, the conceptual framework used stems more from metaphysics and philosophy of mind than philosophy of science. Sachse's aim is twofold. First, he argues for the special sciences' being reducible to physics, by deriving the in principle possibility of epistemological reduction from ontological reduction. Second, he attempts to simultaneously make room for the legitimacy of the special sciences, effecting a conservative reduction rather than an elimination of the special sciences. (shrink)
This article develops an "ordonomic" approach to business ethics in the age of globalization. Through the use of a three-tiered conceptual framework that distinguishes between the basic game of antagonistic social cooperation, the meta game of rule-setting, and the meta-meta game of rule-finding discourse, we address three questions, the answers to which we believe are crucial to fostering effective business leadership and corporate social responsibility. First, the purpose of business in society is value creation. Companies have a social mandate to (...) organize mutually advantageous cooperation. Second, business ethics should teach the management competencies necessary to fulfill business's societal mandate. These competencies are optimization competence in the basic game of value creation, governance competence in the meta game of (political) rule setting, and the three discourse-related skills of orientation competence, reception competence, and communication competence necessary for engaging in the meta-meta game. Third, companies can help solve global problems through global corporate citizenship if they participate as political and moral actors in rule-setting processes and rule-finding discourse aimed at laying the foundation for value creation on a global scale. (shrink)
The present study discusses the early theoretical development of Konrad Lorenz in the period from 1930 to 1937. In this period Lorenz developed his position on instinct in the first place, and thus his theoretical views were subject to change. Despite this change, the paper points to relatively stable features of Lorenz’s approach, which emerged relatively soon in his scientific career and guided his theoretical development in this and beyond this early phase.
As Elliott Sober acknowledges in the preface, the title of his latest book, Evidence and Evolution, is potentially confusing, for his discussion does not present various known empirical facts that support the theory of common ancestry, such as fossil data and genetic and anatomical features of extant species. Rather, it is an epistemological study of scientific inference and the confirmation of hypotheses in the context of evolutionary biology. Sober targets a dual audience. Philosophers will obtain from his detailed and convincing (...) account general lessons on the nature of confirmation and an introduction to or overview of basic models in evolutionary theory. Biologists will benefit as well, since Sober steps back .. (shrink)
The paper discusses how systems biology is working toward complex accounts that integrate explanation in terms of mechanisms and explanation by mathematical models—which some philosophers have viewed as rival models of explanation. Systems biology is an integrative approach, and it strongly relies on mathematical modeling. Philosophical accounts of mechanisms capture integrative in the sense of multilevel and multifield explanations, yet accounts of mechanistic explanation (as the analysis of a whole in terms of its structural parts and their qualitative interactions) have (...) failed to address how a mathematical model could contribute to such explanations. I discuss how mathematical equations can be explanatorily relevant. Several cases from systems biology are discussed to illustrate the interplay between mechanistic research and mathematical modeling, and I point to questions about qualitative phenomena (rather than the explanation of quantitative details), where quantitative models are still indispensable to the explanation. Systems biology shows that a broader philosophical conception of mechanisms is needed, which takes into account functional-dynamical aspects, interaction in complex networks with feedback loops, system-wide functional properties such as distributed functionality and robustness, and a mechanism’s ability to respond to perturbations (beyond its actual operation). I offer general conclusions for philosophical accounts of explanation. (shrink)
Peculiar to Konrad Lorenz’s view of instinctive behavior is his strong innate-learned dichotomy. He claimed that there are neither ontogenetic nor phylogenetic transitions between instinctive and experience-based behavior components, thus contradicting all former accounts of instinct. The present study discusses how Lorenz came to hold this controversial position by examining the history of Lorenz’s early theoretical development in the crucial period from 1931 to 1937, taking relevant influences into account. Lorenz’s intellectual development is viewed as being guided by four theoretical (...) and practical commitments as to how to study and explain behavior. These four factors, which were part of the general approach of Lorenz but not of other animal psychologists, were crucial in bringing about his specific position on instinctive behavior. (shrink)