This essay outlines one aspect of a larger collaboration with John Beatty and Alan Love.2 The project’s focus is philosophical, but for reasons that will become clear momentarily, the method of approach is historical. All three of us share the conviction that philosophical issues concerning the foundations of the sciences are often illuminated by investigating their history. It is my hope that this paper both provides support for that thesis, and illustrates it. The focal philosophical issue can be stated in (...) the form of a puzzle about contemporary discussions of the conceptual foundations of evolutionary theory. The role of the concepts of “chance” and “randomness” in that theory is a significant part of .. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Introduction; 1. Teleology, Platonic and Aristotelian David Sedley; 2. Biology and metaphysics in Aristotle Robert Bolton; 3. The unity and purpose of On the Parts of Animals I James G. Lennox; 4. An Aristotelian puzzle about definition: Metaphysics Z.12 Alan Code; 5. Unity of definition in Metaphysics H.6 and Z.12 Mary Louise Gill; 6. Definition in Aristotle's Posterior Analytics Pierre Pellegrin; 7. Male and female in Aristotle's Generation of Animals Aryeh Kosman; 8. Metaphysics Θ. 7 and (...) 8: some issues concerning actuality and potentiality David Charles; 9. Where is the activity? Sarah Broadie; 10. Political community and the highest good John M. Cooper; Publications of Allan Gotthelf. (shrink)
Aristotle is properly recognized as the originator of the scientific study of life. This is true despite the fact that many earlier Greek natural philosophers occasionally speculated on the origins of living things and much of the Hippocratic medical corpus, which was written before or during Aristotle's lifetime, displays a serious interest in human anatomy, physiology and pathology. Even Plato has Timaeus devote a considerable part of his speech to the human body and its functions (and malfunctions). Nevertheless, before Aristotle, (...) only a few of the Hippocratic treatises are both systematic and empirical, and their focus is exclusively on human health and disease. (shrink)
Darwinism designates a distinctive form of evolutionary explanation for the history and diversity of life on earth. Its original formulation is provided in the first edition of On the Origin of Species in 1859. This entry first formulates ‘Darwin's Darwinism’ in terms of five philosophically distinctive themes: (i) probability and chance, (ii) the nature, power and scope of selection, (iii) adaptation and teleology, (iv) nominalism vs. essentialism about species and (v) the tempo and mode of evolutionary change. Both Darwin and (...) his critics recognized that his approach to evolution was distinctive on each of these topics, and it remains true that, though Darwinism has developed in many ways unforeseen by Darwin, its proponents and critics continue to differentiate it from other approaches in evolutionary biology by focusing on these themes. This point is illustrated in the second half of the entry by looking at current debates in the philosophy of evolutionary biology on these five themes, with a special focus on Stephen Jay Gould's The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. (shrink)
A necessary condition for having a revolution named after you is that you are an innovator in your field. I argue that if Charles Darwin meets this condition, it is as a philosopher and methodologist. In 1991, I made the case for Darwin's innovative use of "thought experiment" in the "Origin." Here I place this innovative practice in the context of Darwin's methodological commitments, trace its origins back into Darwin's notebooks, and pursue Darwin's suggestion that it owes its inspiration to (...) Charles Lyell. (shrink)
Proceedings of the Pittsburgh Workshop in History and Philosophy of Biology, Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, March 23-24 2001 Session 1: Eugenics Narrative and Reproductive Engineering.
A critique of portions of Prof. Diane Paul's paper presented at the Pittsburgh 2002 History and Philosophy of Biology workshop. Lennox poses questions about Paul's claims regarding the narratives linking genetic engineering to eugenics, insisting that the situation is more complex than suggested.
In addition to being one of the world's most influential philosophers, Aristotle can also be credited with the creation of both the science of biology and the philosophy of biology. He was the first thinker to treat the investigations of the living world as a distinct inquiry with its own special concepts and principles. This book focuses on a seminal event in the history of biology - Aristotle's delineation of a special branch of theoretical knowledge devoted to the systematic investigation (...) of animals. Aristotle approached the creation of zoology with the tools of subtle and systematic philosophies of nature and of science that were then carefully tailored to the investigation of animals. The papers collected in this volume, written by a pre-eminent figure in the field of Aristotle's philosophy and biology, examine Aristotle's approach to biological inquiry and explanation, his concepts of matter, form and kind, and his teleology. (shrink)
Kuhn closed the Introduction to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions with what was clearly intended as a rhetorical question: How could history of science fail to be a source of phenomena to which theories about knowledge may legitimately be asked to apply? (Kuhn 1970, 9) This paper argues that there is a more fruitful way of conceiving the relationship between a historical and philosophical study of science, which is dubbed the 'phylogenetic' approach. I sketch an example of this approach, and (...) take a first pass at an abstract characterization of the method. (shrink)
Historians of psychology often treat Aristotle’s De Anima as the first scientific treatment of their subject; and historians of biology do likewise with his zoological treatises. How are the investigations recorded in works such as the Parts of Animals and History of Animals connected to those in the De Anima? More specifically, given Aristotle’s views about man’s special and distinctive cognitive capacities, what does he think about man as an object of a distinctively zoological investigation? In the following pages, this (...) more specific question will be explored, but with an eye to the way in which its answer may change the way we think about the broader question. (shrink)
Variants on two approaches to the concept of health have dominated the philosophy of medicine, here referred to as ‘reductionist’ and ‘relativis’. These two approaches share the basic assumption that the concept of health cannot be both based on an empirical biological foundation and be evaluative, and thus adopt either the view that it is ‘objective’ or evaluative. It is here argued that there are a subset of value concepts that are formed in recognition of certain fundamental facts about living (...) organisms, among which is the concept of health. These are not yet moral concepts, but they are ‘normative’ or ‘evaluative’. The view is defended that health, so understood, is a fundamental concept in the process of medical diagnosis and treatment. Keywords: health, value, objectivity, function CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
The occasion for this critical review is the publication of a second, revised edition of David M Balme's translation, with introduction and notes, of Aristotle's "De Partimus Animalium I" and "De Generatione Animalium I" in the Clarendon Aristotle series. The second edition includes an appendix by Allan Gotthelf with a selective bibliography and a guide to the philosophical literature occasioned by Balme's notes. This critical review discusses Balme's unique style of translation and commentary, analyzing in detail a number of key (...) passages in both. (shrink)
During the Middle Ages and Rennaissance, it was commonly believed that Aristotle's biological studies reflected his theory of demonstrative science quite well. By contrast, most commentators in the twentieth century have taken it that this is not the case. This is largely the result of preconceptions about what a natural science modelled after the proposals of Aristotle's Posterior Analytics would look like. I argue that these modern preconceptions are incorrect, and that, while the Analytics leaves a variety of issues unanswered (...) that a practicing biology must have answers to (hence Parts of Animals I), Aristotle's biological practice conforms to the Analytics model. It is further argued that establishing this claim requires reading philosophically through entire biological treatises--that is, one will miss the logical structure by following the usual practice of 'sampling' these treatises rather than reading them systematically. (shrink)
It is often claimed that one of Darwin''s chief accomplishments was to provide biology with a non-teleological explanation of adaptation. A number of Darwin''s closest associates, however, and Darwin himself, did not see it that way. In order to assess whether Darwin''s version of evolutionary theory does or does not employ teleological explanation, two of his botanical studies are examined. The result of this examination is that Darwin sees selection explanations of adaptations as teleological explanations. The confusion in the nineteenth (...) century about Darwin''s attitude to teleology is argued to be a result of Darwin''s teleological explanations not conforming to either of the dominant philosophical justifications of teleology at that time. Darwin''s explanatory practices conform well, however, to recent defenses of the teleological character of selection explanations. (shrink)
Aristotle's biological works - constituting over 25% of his surviving corpus and for centuries largely unstudied by philosophically oriented scholars - have been the subject of an increasing amount of attention of late. This collection brings together some of the best work that has been done in this area, with the aim of exhibiting the contribution that close study of these treatises can make to the understanding of Aristotle's philosophy. The book is divided into four parts, each with an introduction (...) which places its essays in relation to each other and to the wider issues of the book as a whole. The first part is an overview of the relationship of Aristotle's biology to his philosophy; the other three each concentrate on a set of issues central to Aristotelian study - definition and demonstration; teleology and necessity in nature; and metaph themes such as the unity of matter and form and the nature of substance. (shrink)
Professor Grene's work on Aristotle is considered under three headings: teleology, form, and reductionism. A picture of Aristotle's philosophy of biology is sketched which stresses three elements: the place of living activity in the teleological account of the development and nature of organic structures; the functional nature of Aristotelian form; and the autonomy of biology as a natural science with its own basic principles. These elements are aspects of Aristotle's approach to biology with which Professor Grene has expressed sympathy.