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Profile: James Maclaurin (University of Otago)
  1. Heather Dyke & James Maclaurin (2013). What Shall We Do with Analytic Metaphysics? A Response to McLeod and Parsons. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (1):179 - 182.
    (2013). What Shall We Do with Analytic Metaphysics? A Response to McLeod and Parsons. Australasian Journal of Philosophy: Vol. 91, No. 1, pp. 179-182. doi: 10.1080/00048402.2012.762029.
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  2. James Maclaurin & Tim Cochrane (2013). The Purpose of Progress: A Response to Schubert. Journal of Bioeconomics.
    This article responds to a commentary by Christian Schubert on our 'Evolvability and Progress in Evolutionary Economics'. Our response elaborates the key disagreement between Schubert and us, namely, our views about the purpose of an account of progress in evolutionary economics.
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  3. Gregory W. Dawes & James Maclaurin (eds.) (2012). A New Science of Religion. Routledge.
    This volume examines the diversity of new scientific theories of religion, by outlining the logical and causal relationships between these enterprises.
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  4. James Maclaurin (ed.) (2012). Defensor Rationes: Essays in Honour of Colin Cheyne. Springer.
    Rationis Defensor is a volume of previously unpublished essays celebrating the life and work of Colin Cheyne. It celebrates his dedication to rational enquiry and his philosophical style. It also celebrates the distinctive brand of naturalistic philosophy for which Otago has become known. Contributors to the volume include a wide variety of philosophers, all with a personal connection to Colin, and all of whom are, in their own way, defenders of rationality.
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  5. James Maclaurin (ed.) (2012). Rationis Defensor: Essays in Honour of Colin Cheyne. Springer.
    Edited book containing the following essays: 1 Getting over Gettier, Alan Musgrave.- 2 Justified Believing: Avoiding the Paradox Gregory W. Dawes.- 3 Literature and Truthfulness,Gregory Currie.- 4 Where the Buck-passing Stops, Andrew Moore.- 5 Universal Darwinism: Its Scope and Limits, James Maclaurin, - 6 The Future of Utilitarianism,Tim Mulgan. 7 Kant on Experiment, Alberto Vanzo.- 8 Did Newton ʻFeignʼ the Corpuscular Hypothesis? Kirsten Walsh.- 9 The Progress of Scotland: The Edinburgh Philosophical Societies and the Experimental Method, Juan Gomez.- 10 Propositions: (...)
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  6. James Maclaurin (2012). Universal Darwinism: Its Scope and Limits. In , Defensor Rationes: Essays in Honour of Colin Cheyne. Springer.
    Many things evolve: species, languages, sports, tools, biological niches, and theories. But are these real instances of natural selection? Current assessments of the proper scope of Darwinian theory focus on the broad similarity of cultural or non-organic processes to familiar central instances of natural selection. That similarity is analysed in terms of abstract functional descriptions of evolving entities (e.g. replicators, interactors, developmental systems etc). These strategies have produced a proliferation of competing evolutionary analyses. I argue that such reasoning ought not (...)
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  7. James Maclaurin & Tim Cochrane (2012). Progress in Evolutionary Economics. Journal of Bioeconomics 14 (2):101-14.
    This paper develops an account of evolutionary progress for use in the field of evolutionary economics. Previous work is surveyed and a new account set out, based on the idea of evolvability as it has been used recently in evolutionary developmental biology. The biological underpinnings of this idea are explained using examples of a series of phenomena that influence the evolvability of biological systems. It is further argued that selection pressures and developmental processes are sufficiently similar to make this biological (...)
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  8. James Maclaurin & Heather Dyke (2012). What is Analytic Metaphysics For? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (2):291-306.
    We divide analytic metaphysics into naturalistic and non-naturalistic metaphysics. The latter we define as any philosophical theory that makes some ontological (as opposed to conceptual) claim, where that ontological claim has no observable consequences. We discuss further features of non-naturalistic metaphysics, including its methodology of appealing to intuition, and we explain the way in which we take it to be discontinuous with science. We outline and criticize Ladyman and Ross's 2007 epistemic argument against non-naturalistic metaphysics. We then present our own (...)
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  9. James Maclaurin (2011). Against Reduction. Biology and Philosophy 26 (1):151-158.
    In Molecular Models: Philosophical Papers on Molecular Biology, Sahotra Sarkar presents a historical and philosophical analysis of four important themes in philosophy of science that have been influenced by discoveries in molecular biology. These are: reduction, function, information and directed mutation. I argue that there is an important difference between the cases of function and information and the more complex case of scientific reduction. In the former cases it makes sense to taxonomise important variations in scientific and philosophical usage of (...)
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  10. James Maclaurin (2011). Commentary on “The Transmission Sense of Information” by Carl T. Bergstrom and Martin Rosvall. Biology and Philosophy 26 (2):191-194.
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  11. James Maclaurin (2008). Review: Graham MacDonald and David Papineau (Eds): Teleosemantics: New Philosophical Essays. [REVIEW] Mind 117 (468):1102-1105.
  12. James Maclaurin & Kim Sterelny (2008). What is Biodiversity? University of Chicago Press.
    What Is Biodiversity? is a theoretical and conceptual exploration of the biological world and how diversity is valued. Maclaurin and Sterelny explore not only the origins of the concept of biodiversity, but also how that concept has been shaped by ecology and more recently by conservation biology. They explain the different types of biodiversity important in evolutionary theory, developmental biology, ecology, morphology and taxonomy and conclude that biological heritage is rich in not just one biodiversity but many. Maclaurin and Sterelny (...)
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  13. James Maclaurin (2006). Review of "The Evolution of Darwinism" by Timothy Shanahan. [REVIEW] Philosophical Books 47 (2):191-192.
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  14. James Maclaurin (2006). The Innate / Acquired Distinction. In Sahotra Sarkar & Jessica Pfeifer (eds.), The Philosophy of Science: An Encyclopedia. Routledge.
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  15. James Maclaurin (2003). The Good, the Bad and the Impossible. Biology and Philosophy 18 (3):463-476.
  16. James Maclaurin (2003). The Good, the Bad and the Impossible: A Critical Notice of 'Theoretical Morphology: The Concept and its Applications' by George McGhee. Biology and Philosophy 18:463-476.
    Philosophers differ widely in the extent to which they condone the exploration of the realms of possibilia. Some are very enamoured of thought experiments in which human intuition is trained upon the products of human imagination. Others are much more sceptical of the fruits of such purely cognitive explorations. That said, it is clear that human beings cannot dispense with modal speculation altogether. Rationality rests upon the ability to make decisions and that in turn rests upon the ability to learn (...)
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  17. Heather Dyke & James Maclaurin (2002). 'Thank Goodness That's Over': The Evolutionary Story. Ratio 15 (3):276–292.
    If, as the new tenseless theory of time maintains, there are no tensed facts, then why do our emotional lives seem to suggest that there are? This question originates with Prior’s ‘Thank Goodness That’s Over’ problem, and still presents a significant challenge to the new B-theory of time. We argue that this challenge has more dimensions to it than has been appreciated by those involved in the debate so far. We present an analysis of the challenge, showing the different questions (...)
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  18. James Maclaurin (2002). The Monist.
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  19. James Maclaurin (2002). The Resurrection of Innateness. In The Monist. 105-130.
    The notion of innateness is widely used, particularly in philosophy of mind, cognitive science and linguistics. Despite this popularity, it remains a controversial idea. This is partly because of the variety of ways in which it can be explicated and partly because it appears to embody the suggestion that we can determine the relative causal contributions of genes and environment in the development of biological individuals. As these causes are not independent, the claim is metaphysically suspect. This paper argues that (...)
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  20. James Maclaurin (2002). Why Minds Evolve. [REVIEW] Metascience 11 (1):127-130.
    A review of Kim Sterleny's The Evolution of Agency and Other Essays.
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  21. James Maclaurin, Fitness: Philosophical Problems. Encyclopedia of Life Sciences.
    A philosophical discussion of conceptual and theoretical issues raised by the scientific use of the term ‘fitness’ to describe a property of evolving systems.
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  22. James Maclaurin (2001). Review of "Sex and Death" by Paul Griffiths and Kim Sterelny. [REVIEW] New Zealand Science Review 58 (1):34.
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  23. Philip Kitcher, James Maclaurin & Reinventing Molecular Weismannism (1998). Volume13 No. 1 January1998. Biology and Philosophy 13:631-633.
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  24. James Maclaurin (1998). How to Defeat Complexity. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (3):491 – 501.
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  25. James Maclaurin (1998). Reinventing Molecular Weismannism: Information in Evolution. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 13 (1):37-59.
    Molecular Weismannism is the claim that: In the development of an individual, DNA causes the production both of DNA (genetic material) and of protein (somatic material). The reverse process never occurs. Protein is never a cause of DNA. This principle underpins both the idea that genes are the objects upon which natural selection operates and the idea that traits can be divided into those that are genetic and those that are not. Recent work in developmental biology and in philosophy of (...)
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