The goal of this paper is to encourage a reconfiguration of the discussion about typology in biology away from the metaphysics of essentialism and toward the epistemology of classifying natural phenomena for the purposes of empirical inquiry. First, I briefly review arguments concerning ‘typological thinking’, essentialism, species, and natural kinds, highlighting their predominantly metaphysical nature. Second, I use a distinction between the aims, strategies, and tactics of science to suggest how a shift from metaphysics to epistemology might be accomplished. Typological (...) thinking can be understood as a scientific tactic that involves representing natural phenomena using idealizations and approximations, which facilitates explanation, investigation, and theorizing via abstraction and generalization. Third, a variety of typologies from different areas of biology are introduced to emphasize the diversity of this representational reasoning. One particular example is used to examine how there can be epistemological conflict between typology and evolutionary analysis. This demonstrates that alternative strategies of typological thinking arise due to the divergent explanatory goals of researchers working in different disciplines with disparate methodologies. I conclude with several research questions that emerge from an epistemological reconfiguration of typology. (shrink)
Using the context of controversies surrounding evolutionary developmental biology (EvoDevo) and the possibility of an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, I provide an account of theory structure as idealized theory presentations that are always incomplete (partial) and shaped by their conceptual content (material rather than formal organization). These two characteristics are salient because the goals that organize and regulate scientific practice, including the activity of using a theory, are heterogeneous. This means that the same theory can be structured differently, in part because (...) theory presentations (as idealizations) intentionally depart from different features known to be present in a theory. Since there are diverse and potentially incompatible theory structures derived from heterogeneous goals found in scientific practices, a question arises about the absence of a unifying theory structure in the background. The notion of a “theory façade” offers a fruitful perspective on this potentially unsettling result. (shrink)
Model organisms are central to contemporary biology and studies of embryogenesis in particular. Biologists utilize only a small number of species to experimentally elucidate the phenomena and mechanisms of development. Critics have questioned whether these experimental models are good representatives of their targets because of the inherent biases involved in their selection (e.g., rapid development and short generation time). A standard response is that the manipulative molecular techniques available for experimental analysis mitigate, if not counterbalance, this concern. But the most (...) powerful investigative techniques and molecular methods are applicable to single-celled organisms (‘microbes’). Why not use unicellular rather than multicellular model organisms, which are the standard for developmental biology? To claim that microbes are not good representatives takes us back to the original criticism leveled against model organisms. Using empirical case studies of microbes modeling ontogeny, we break out of this circle of reasoning by showing: (a) that the criterion of representation is more complex than earlier discussions have emphasized; and, (b) that different aspects of manipulability are comparable in importance to representation when deciding if a model organism is a good model. These aspects of manipulability harbor the prospect of enhancing representation. The result is a better understanding of how developmental biologists conceptualize research using experimental models and suggestions for underappreciated avenues of inquiry using microbes. More generally, it demonstrates how the practical aspects of experimental biology must be scrutinized in order to understand the associated scientific reasoning. (shrink)
The stop-signal paradigm is frequently used to study response inhibition. In this paradigm, participants perform a two-choice response time task where the primary task is occasionally interrupted by a stop-signal that prompts participants to withhold their response. The primary goal is to estimate the latency of the unobservable stop response (stop signal reaction time or SSRT). Recently, Matzke, Dolan, Logan, Brown, and Wagenmakers (in press) have developed a Bayesian parametric approach that allows for the estimation of the entire distribution of (...) SSRTs. The Bayesian parametric approach assumes that SSRTs are ex-Gaussian distributed and uses Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling to estimate the parameters of the SSRT distri- bution. Here we present an efficient and user-friendly software implementa- tion of the Bayesian parametric approach —BEESTS— that can be applied to individual as well as hierarchical stop-signal data. BEESTS comes with an easy-to-use graphical user interface and provides users with summary statistics of the posterior distribution of the parameters as well various diag- nostic tools to assess the quality of the parameter estimates. The software is open source and runs on Windows and OS X operating systems. In sum, BEESTS allows experimental and clinical psychologists to estimate entire distributions of SSRTs and hence facilitates the more rigorous analysis of stop-signal data. (shrink)
The allure of perennial questions in biology: temporary excitement or substantive advance? Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9533-5 Authors Alan C. Love, Department of Philosophy, Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Minnesota, 831 Heller Hall, 271 19th Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55455-0310, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Although no one unified anarchist theory exists, educational approaches can be taken to support the full liberation of the self and the construction of an interconnected community that strives to rid itself of eco-sociocultural oppressions. An anarchist pedagogical approach could be one that is rooted in a love/rage unit of analysis occurring along a spectrum of various types of actions and contributions within a community. Anarchism as a violent destruction of the state is a stereotypical view that has perhaps led (...) to its own early demise as a social movement. Anarchism that embraces adaptation through more inclusive forms of resistance, including a reconstruction for the K?12 classroom context, is one that stands a chance in evolving a society toward love, justice, and empowerment. This article explores those possibilities aiming for accessibility while still honoring core anarchist calls for strong, localized democratic participation and decision-making outside of permanent hierarchies. (shrink)
What mechanisms underlie children’s language production? Structural priming—the repetition of sentence structure across utterances—is an important measure of the developing production system. We propose its mechanism in children is the same as may underlie analogical reasoning: structure-mapping. Under this view, structural priming is the result of making an analogy between utterances, such that children map semantic and syntactic structure from previous to future utterances. Because the ability to map relationally complex structures develops with age, younger children are less successful than (...) older children at mapping both semantic and syntactic relations. Consistent with this account, 4-year-old children showed priming only of semantic relations when surface similarity across utterances was limited, whereas 5-year-olds showed priming of both semantic and syntactic structure regardless of shared surface similarity. The priming of semantic structure without syntactic structure is uniquely predicted by the structure-mapping account because others have interpreted structural priming as a reflection of developing syntactic knowledge. (shrink)
Many biologists and philosophers have worried that importing models of reasoning from the physical sciences obscures our understanding of reasoning in the life sciences. In this paper we discuss one example that partially validates this concern: part-whole reductive explanations. Biology and physics tend to incorporate different models of temporality in part-whole reductive explanations. This results from differential emphases on compositional and causal facets of reductive explanations, which have not been distinguished reliably in prior philosophical analyses. Keeping these two facets distinct (...) facilitates the identifi cation of two further aspects of reductive explanation: intrinsicality and fundamentality. Our account provides resources for discriminating between different types of reductive explanation and suggests a new approach to comprehending similarities and differences in the explanatory reasoning found in biology and physics. (shrink)
The inapplicability of variations on theory reduction in the context of genetics and their irrelevance to ongoing research has led to an anti-reductionist consensus in philosophy of biology. One response to this situation is to focus on forms of reductive explanation that better correspond to actual scientific reasoning (e.g. part–whole relations). Working from this perspective, we explore three different aspects (intrinsicality, fundamentality, and temporality) that arise from distinct facets of reductive explanation: composition and causation. Concentrating on these aspects generates new (...) forms of reductive explanation and conditions for their success or failure in biology and other sciences. This analysis is illustrated using the case of protein folding in molecular biology, which demonstrates its applicability and relevance, as well as illuminating the complexity of reductive reasoning in a specific biological context. (shrink)
John Norton’s argument that all formal theories of induction fail raises substantive questions about the philosophical analysis of scientific reasoning. What are the criteria of adequacy for philosophical theories of induction, explanation, or theory structure? Is more than one adequate theory possible? Using a generalized version of Norton’s argument, I demonstrate that the competition between formal and material theories in philosophy of science results from adhering to different criteria of adequacy. This situation encourages an interpretation of “formal” and “material” as (...) indicators of divergent criteria that accompany different philosophical methodologies. I characterize another criterion of adequacy associated with material theories, the avoidance of imported problems, and conclude that one way to negotiate between conflicting criteria is to adopt a pluralist stance toward philosophical theories of scientific reasoning. (shrink)
In this paper the authors explore the association between student predispositions to be either deontological or utilitarian and issue involvement. The suggestion is made that those who are more utilitarian/outcome driven will tend to be less involved with issues overall, but more likely to be persuaded by strong argument, than those who are more deontological/values driven. The results of an empirical examination into this conjecture are offered and discussed.
Preface -- Prologue: A man in love with beauty -- First son of a first son -- Kali Mudra -- Tantrik nights -- Downfall and disgrace -- What is this man? -- Yoga at large -- Partners -- Expansion -- For love & money -- The Promised Land -- Welcome to Nyack -- Interrogation -- Body and mind -- Enter Sir Paul -- Bach, baseball & Buddha -- The Vanderbilt knot -- The show goes on -- Blue skies, big plans (...) -- A leap of faith -- Good times, bad times -- Citizen oom -- The message gets out -- Change in the air -- Running out of tricks -- The cosmic punch -- A Nazi in Nyack -- Family man -- Final days -- Epilogue: Genius or fraud? (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)
It is a common complaint that antireductionist arguments are primarily negative. Here I describe an alternative nonreductionist epistemology based on considerations taken from multidisciplinary research in biology. The core of this framework consists in seeing investigation as coordinated around sets of problems (problem agendas) that have associated criteria of explanatory adequacy. These ideas are developed in a case study, the explanation of evolutionary innovations and novelties, which demonstrates the applicability and fruitfulness of this nonreductionist epistemological perspective. This account also bears (...) on questions of conceptual change and theory structure in philosophy of science. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Minnesota, 831 Heller Hall, 271 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55455; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
Although reducing the costs of software maintenance has long been held as an important goal, few researchers have studied software maintenance - except in the context of software design. However, thinking in software design is itself muddled by the frequent confusion over the term ‘software’ and ‘programs’. In this paper we argue for a re-examination of the underlying philosophical foundations of programs, in order to establish software as a phenomenon in its own right. Once we understand the basic structure of (...) software theories, we will be in a better position to understand how theories of software relate to theories of programs. This might finally provide the insight needed to achieve the long awaited reduction in the cost of software maintenance. (shrink)
Alain Badiou argues in “Rancière and Apolitics” that Rancière has appropriated his central idea of equality from Badiou’s own work. We argue that Badiou’s characterisation of Rancière’s project is correct, but that his self-characterisation is mistaken. What Badiou’s ontology of events opens out onto is not necessarily equality, but instead universality. Equality is only one form of universality, but there is nothing in Badiou’s thought that prohibits the (multiple) universality he positsfrom being hierarchical. In the end, then, Badiou’s thought moves (...) in a Maoist direction while Rancière’s in an anarchist one. (shrink)
Opening with a consideration of the methodological stakes, the paper examines, in a preparatory way, the phenomenon of the startle as a limit case for phenomenological analysis. Taking a bearing from a traditional Husserlian schema, the analysis quickly finds itself twisting and turning, contorting the received phenomenological method in order to remain with the phenomenon. Elements of Heidegger’s “fundamental analysis of Dasein” are also tried out, but similarly find themselves dislocated by the peculiar phenomenological content of the startle. Thus unsettling (...) the basic structures of phenomenology and temporality, the paper concludes by setting the scene for an encounter with Levinas’ perturbing notion of the il y a. (shrink)
It is well documented that the application of business models to the higher education sector has precipitated a managerialistic approach to organisational structures ( Preston, 2001 ). Less well documented is the impact of this business ideal on the student-teacher encounter. It is argued that this age-old relation is now being configured (conceptually and organisationally) in terms peculiar to the business sector: as a customer-product relation. It is the applicability and suitability of such a configuration that specifically concerns this contribution. (...) The paper maintains that the move to describe the student-teacher relation in these terms is indeed inappropriately reductive, but not straightforwardly so. The problem arises in that we remain unsure of the contemporary purpose of education. We lack any firm educational ideals that, in themselves, cannot be encompassed by the business paradigm. Indeed, the pedagogical critique of education (broadly, that education is only of use in as much as it is of use to society) extends further than has yet been intimated and prevents one securing any educational ideal that does not immediately succumb to critique. This pedagogical logic is unassailable in any linear way but, when pressed, precipitates an aporetic moment that prevents it from assuming any totalising hold over education. We draw on the work of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida to consider whether one might yet imagine an educational 'quasi-ideal' that will enable practitioners and institutions to counter the effects of customerisation. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with the empirical schema of corporate philanthropy research. Whilst significant pieces of work have been produced of late, I argue the field could expand its empirical range. Drawing on novel contemplations in management research, I suggest narrative methodology as a style for the discovery of meaning.
Kohler's experiments with inverting goggles are often thought to support enactivism by showing that visual re-inversion occurs simultaneous with the return of sensorimotor skill. Closer examination reveals that Kohler's work does not show this. Recent work by Linden et al. shows that re-inversion, if it occurs at all, does not occur when the enactivist predicts. As such, the empirical evidence weighs against enactivism.
“Functional homology” appears regularly in different areas of biological research and yet it is apparently a contradiction in terms—homology concerns identity of structure regardless of form and function. I argue that despite this conceptual tension there is a legitimate conception of ‘homology of function’, which can be recovered by utilizing a distinction from pre-Darwinian physiology (use versus activity) to identify an appropriate meaning of ‘function’. This account is directly applicable to molecular developmental biology and shares a connection to the theme (...) of hierarchy in homology. I situate ‘homology of function’ within existing definitions and criteria for structural assessments of homology, and introduce a criterion of ‘organization’ for judging function homologues, which focuses on hierarchically interconnected interdependencies (similar to relative position and connection for skeletal elements in structural homology). This analysis of biological concepts has at least three broad philosophical consequences: (1) it provides the grounds for the study of behavior and psychological categories as homologues; (2) it demonstrates that philosophers who take selected effect function as primary effectively ignore large portions of comparative, structural, and experimental research, thereby misconstruing biological reasoning and knowledge; and, (3) it underwrites causal generalizations, which illuminates inferences made from model organisms in experimental biology. (shrink)