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Profile: Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (University of California, Santa Cruz)
  1. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, Free to Universalize or Bound by Culture? Multicultural and Public Philosophy: A White Paper.
    Multiculturalism requires sustained and serious philosophical reflection, which in turn requires public outreach and communication. This piece briefly outlines concerns raised by the philosophy of multiculturalism and, conversely, multiculturalism in philosophy, which ultimately force us to reconsider the philosopher’s own role and responsibility. I conclude with a provocative suggestion of philosophy as /public diplomacy/. (As this is intended to be a piece for a general audience, secondary literature is only referred to in the conclusion. References gladly provided upon request.).
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  2. Carlos Montemayor & Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (forthcoming). Review of Space, Time, and Number in the Brain. [REVIEW] Mathematical Intelligencer.
    Albert Einstein once made the following remark about "the world of our sense experiences": "the fact that it is comprehensible is a miracle." (1936, p. 351) A few decades later, another physicist, Eugene Wigner, wondered about the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences, concluding his classic article thus: "the miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve" (1960, p. 14). (...)
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  3. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (forthcoming). Mapping Kinds in GIS and Cartography. In Catherine Kendig (ed.), Natural Kinds and Classification in Scientific Practice. Pickering & Chatto.
    Geographic Information Science (GIS) is a scientific inter-discipline aiming to discover patterns in, and produce visual displays of, spatial data. Businesses use GIS to determine where to open new stores, and GIS helps conservation biologists identify field study locations with relatively little anthropogenic influence (Mitchell 1999; Chrisman 2002). GIS products include topographic and thematic maps of the Earth's surface, climate maps, and spatially referenced demographic graphs and charts. The annual global GIS market (approx. $10 billion ) is of the same (...)
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  4. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (forthcoming). The Structure of Scientific Theories. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Scientific inquiry has led to immense explanatory and technological successes, partly as a result of the pervasiveness of scientific theories. Relativity theory, evolutionary theory, and plate tectonics were, and continue to be, wildly successful families of theories within physics, biology, and geology. Other powerful theory clusters inhabit comparatively recent disciplines such as cognitive science, climate science, molecular biology, microeconomics, and Geographic Information Science (GIS). Effective scientific theories magnify understanding, help supply legitimate explanations, and assist in formulating predictions. Moving from their (...)
     
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  5. Jonathan Michael Kaplan & Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2014). Realism, Antirealism, and Conventionalism About Race. Philosophy of Science 81:1039-1052.
    This paper distinguishes three concepts of "race": bio-genomic cluster/race, biological race, and social race. We map out realism, antirealism, and conventionalism about each of these, in three important historical episodes: Frank Livingstone and Theodosius Dobzhansky in 1962, A.W.F. Edwards' 2003 response to Lewontin (1972), and contemporary discourse. Semantics is especially crucial to the first episode, while normativity is central to the second. Upon inspection, each episode also reveals a variety of commitments to the metaphysics of race. We conclude by interrogating (...)
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  6. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, Determinism and Total Explanation in the Biological and Behavioral Sciences. Encyclopedia of Life Sciences.
    Should we think of our universe as law-governed and “clockwork”-like or as disorderly and “soup”-like? Alternatively, should we consciously and intentionally synthesize these two extreme pictures? More concretely, how deterministic are the postulated causes and how rigid are the modeled properties of the best statistical methodologies used in the biological and behavioral sciences? The charge of this entry is to explore thinking about causation in the temporal evolution of biological and behavioral systems. Regression analysis and path analysis are simply explicated (...)
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  7. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2014). James and Dewey on Abstraction. The Pluralist 9 (2):1-28.
    Reification is to abstraction as disease is to health. Whereas abstraction is singling out, symbolizing, and systematizing, reification is neglecting abstractive context, especially functional, historical, and analytical-level context. William James and John Dewey provide similar and nuanced arguments regarding the perils and promises of abstraction. They share an abstraction-reification account. The stages of abstraction and the concepts of “vicious abstractionism,” “/the/ psychologist’s fallacy,” and “the philosophic fallacy” in the works of these pragmatists are here analyzed in detail. For instance, in (...)
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  8. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2014). The Genetic Reification of 'Race'? A Story of Two Mathematical Methods. Critical Philosophy of Race 2 (2):204-223.
    Two families of mathematical methods lie at the heart of investigating the hierarchical structure of genetic variation in Homo sapiens: /diversity partitioning/, which assesses genetic variation within and among pre-determined groups, and /clustering analysis/, which simultaneously produces clusters and assigns individuals to these “unsupervised” cluster classifications. While mathematically consistent, these two methodologies are understood by many to ground diametrically opposed claims about the reality of human races. Moreover, modeling results are sensitive to assumptions such as preexisting theoretical commitments to certain (...)
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  9. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2014). World Navels. Cartouche of the Canadian Cartographic Association 89:15-21.
  10. Jonathan Michael Kaplan & Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2013). Prisoners of Abstraction? The Theory and Measure of Genetic Variation, and the Very Concept of 'Race'. Biological Theory 7 (1):401-412.
    It is illegitimate to read any ontology about "race" off of biological theory or data. Indeed, the technical meaning of "genetic variation" is fluid, and there is no single theoretical agreed-upon criterion for defining and distinguishing populations (or groups or clusters) given a particular set of genetic variation data. Thus, by analyzing three formal senses of "genetic variation"—diversity, differentiation, and heterozygosity—we argue that the use of biological theory for making epistemic claims about "race" can only seem plausible when it relies (...)
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  11. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2013). Evo-Devo as a Trading Zone. In Alan Love (ed.), Conceptual Change in Biology: Scientific and Philosophical Perspectives on Evolution and Development. Springer Verlag, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science.
    Evo-Devo exhibits a plurality of scientific “cultures” of practice and theory. When are the cultures acting—individually or collectively—in ways that actually move research forward, empirically, theoretically, and ethically? When do they become imperialistic, in the sense of excluding and subordinating other cultures? This chapter identifies six cultures – three /styles/ (mathematical modeling, mechanism, and history) and three /paradigms/ (adaptationism, structuralism, and cladism). The key assumptions standing behind, under, or within each of these cultures are explored. Characterizing the internal structure of (...)
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  12. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2013). Review of Stephen Stich /Collected Papers. Volume 2. Knowledge, Rationality, and Morality/. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 201308.
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  13. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther & Jonathan Michael Kaplan (2013). Ontologies and Politics of Biogenomic 'Race'. Theoria. A Journal of Social and Political Theory (South Africa) 60 (3):54-80.
    All eyes are turned towards genomic data and models as the source of knowledge about whether human races exist or not. Will genomic science make the final decision about whether racial realism (e.g., racial population naturalism) or anti-realism (e.g., racial skepticism) is correct? We think not. We believe that the results of even our best and most impressive genomic technologies underdetermine whether bio-genomic races exist, or not. First, different sub-disciplines of biology interested in population structure employ distinct concepts, aims, measures, (...)
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  14. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther & Fabrizzio Guerrero McManus (2013). Review of Michael Ruse, The Philosophy of Human Evolution. 2012. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 978052113372. $26.99 Paperback. [REVIEW] Evolution 68 (3):920-21.
  15. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, Michael J. Wade & Christopher C. Dimond (2013). Pluralism in Evolutionary Controversies: Styles and Averaging Strategies in Hierarchical Selection Theories. Biology and Philosophy 28 (6):957-979.
    Two controversies exist regarding the appropriate characterization of hierarchical and adaptive evolution in natural populations. In biology, there is the Wright-Fisher controversy over the relative roles of random genetic drift, natural selection, population structure, and interdemic selection in adaptive evolution begun by Sewall Wright and Ronald Aylmer Fisher. There is also the Units of Selection debate, spanning both the biological and the philosophical literature and including the impassioned group-selection debate. Why do these two discourses exist separately, and interact relatively little? (...)
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  16. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2012). Interweaving Categories: Styles, Paradigms, and Models. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part A 43 (4):628-639.
    Analytical categories of scientific cultures have typically been used both exclusively and universally. For instance, when /styles of scientific research/ are employed in attempts to understand and narrate science, styles alone are usually employed. This article is a thought experiment in interweaving categories. What would happen if rather than employ a single category, we instead investigated several categories simultaneously? What would we learn about the practices and theories, the agents and materials, and the political-technological impact of science if we analyzed (...)
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  17. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2012). Mathematical Modeling in Biology: Philosophy and Pragmatics. Frontiers in Plant Evolution and Development 2012:1-3.
    Philosophy can shed light on mathematical modeling and the juxtaposition of modeling and empirical data. This paper explores three philosophical traditions of the structure of scientific theory—Syntactic, Semantic, and Pragmatic—to show that each illuminates mathematical modeling. The Pragmatic View identifies four critical functions of mathematical modeling: (1) unification of both models and data, (2) model fitting to data, (3) mechanism identification accounting for observation, and (4) prediction of future observations. Such facets are explored using a recent exchange between two groups (...)
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  18. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2011). Consciousness Modeled: Reification and Promising Pluralism. Pensamiento 67 (254):617-630.
    Paradoxically, explorers of the territory of consciousness seem to be studying consciousness out of existence, from inside the field of "consciousness studies". How? Through their love of the phenomenon/process, they have developed powerful single models or lenses through which to understand consciousness. But in doing so, they also seek to destroy the other /equally useful/ lenses. Our opportunity lies in halting the vendettas and cross-speakings/cross-fire. The imploration is to stop the dichotomous thinking and pernicious reification of single models, and instead (...)
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  19. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2011). Darwin's Pluralism, Then and Now. [REVIEW] Metascience 21 (1):157-161.
    Tom Stoppard’s 1966 play (and 1990 movie) /Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead/ is a metatext – as a text, it interprets, builds upon, and refers to another text, Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Similarly, David N. Reznick’s /The Origin then and now: An interpretative guide to the Origin of Species/ (Princeton UP, 2010) is also a metatext. In this review, I turn to the history of science to evaluate whether Reznick’s book shares three families of virtues with Stoppard’s play: (i) brevity and precision, (...)
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  20. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2011). ¿La Cosificación Genética de la 'Raza'? Un Análisis Crítico. In Carlos López-Beltrán (ed.), Genes (&) mestizos. Genómica y raza en la biomedicina mexicana.
  21. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2011). Part-Whole Science. Synthese 178 (3):397-427.
    A scientific explanatory project, part-whole explanation, and a kind of science, part-whole science are premised on identifying, investigating, and using parts and wholes. In the biological sciences, mechanistic, structuralist, and historical explanations are part-whole explanations. Each expresses different norms, explananda, and aims. Each is associated with a distinct partitioning frame for abstracting kinds of parts. These three explanatory projects can be complemented in order to provide an integrative vision of the whole system, as is shown for a detailed case study: (...)
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  22. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2011). Una Revisión Crítica de Los Estilos de Investigación Científica: Teoría, Práctica y Estilos. In Sergio Martínez, Xiang Huang & Godfrey Guillaumin (eds.), Historia, prácticas y estilos en la filosofía de la ciencia. Hacia una epistemología plural. Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana.
  23. Francisco Vergara-Silva & Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2009). Editorial: Systematics, Darwinism, and the Philosophy of Science. Acta Biotheoretica 57:1-3.
  24. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2009). Character Analysis in Cladistics: Abstraction, Reification, and the Search for Objectivity. Acta Biotheoretica 57:129-162.
    The dangers of character reification for cladistic inference are explored. The identification and analysis of characters always involves theory-laden abstraction—there is no theory-free “view from nowhere.” Given theory-ladenness, and given a real world with actual objects and processes, how can we separate robustly real biological characters from uncritically reified characters? One way to avoid reification is through the employment of objectivity criteria that give us good methods for identifying robust primary homology statements. I identify six such criteria and explore each (...)
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  25. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2009). Grasping at Realist Straws. [REVIEW] Metascience 18 (3):370-9.
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  26. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2009). Introduction: From a Philosophical Point of View. Acta Biotheoretica 57:5-10.
  27. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2009). Prediction in Selectionist Evolutionary Theory. Philosophy of Science 76 (5):889-901.
    Selectionist evolutionary theory has often been faulted for not making novel predictions that are surprising, risky, and correct. I argue that it in fact exhibits the theoretical virtue of predictive capacity in addition to two other virtues: explanatory unification and model fitting. Two case studies show the predictive capacity of selectionist evolutionary theory: parallel evolutionary change in E. coli and the origin of eukaryotic cells through endosymbiosis. †To contact the author, please write to: Philosophy Department, University of California, Santa Cruz, (...)
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  28. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2009). Schaffner's Model of Theory Reduction: Critique and Reconstruction. Philosophy of Science 76 (2):119-142.
    Schaffner’s model of theory reduction has played an important role in philosophy of science and philosophy of biology. Here, the model is found to be problematic because of an internal tension. Indeed, standard antireductionist external criticisms concerning reduction functions and laws in biology do not provide a full picture of the limits of Schaffner’s model. However, despite the internal tension, his model usefully highlights the importance of regulative ideals associated with the search for derivational, and embedding, deductive relations among mathematical (...)
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  29. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2008). Systemic Darwinism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105 (33):11833-11838.
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  30. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2007). Estilos de Investigación Científica, Modelos E Insectos Sociales. In Edna Suárez Díaz (ed.), Variedad Infinita. Ciencia y representación. Un enfoque histórico y filosófico. UNAM and Editorial Limusa, Mexico.
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  31. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2006). Fisherian and Wrightian Perspectives in Evolutionary Genetics and Model-Mediated Imposition of Theoretical Assumptions. Journal of Theoretical Biology 240:218-232.
    I investigate how theoretical assumptions, pertinent to different perspectives and operative during the modeling process, are central in determining how nature is actually taken to be. I explore two different models by Michael Turelli and Steve Frank of the evolution of parasite-mediated cytoplasmic incompatility, guided, respectively, by Fisherian and Wrightian perspectives. Since the two models can be shown to be commensurable both with respect to mathematics and data, I argue that the differences between them in the (1) mathematical presentation of (...)
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  32. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2006). On the Dangers of Making Scientific Models Ontologically Independent: Taking Richard Levins' Warnings Seriously. Biology and Philosophy 21 (5):703-724.
    Levins and Lewontin have contributed significantly to our philosophical understanding of the structures, processes, and purposes of biological mathematical theorizing and modeling. Here I explore their separate and joint pleas to avoid making abstract and ideal scientific models ontologically independent by confusing or conflating our scientific models and the world. I differentiate two views of theorizing and modeling, orthodox and dialectical, in order to examine Levins and Lewontin’s, among others, advocacy of the latter view. I compare the positions of these (...)
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  33. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2006). Parts and Theories in Compositional Biology. Biology and Philosophy 21 (4):471-499.
    I analyze the importance of parts in the style of biological theorizing that I call compositional biology. I do this by investigating various aspects, including partitioning frames and explanatory accounts, of the theoretical perspectives that fall under and are guided by compositional biology. I ground this general examination in a comparative analysis of three different disciplines with their associated compositional theoretical perspectives: comparative morphology, functional morphology, and developmental biology. I glean data for this analysis from canonical textbooks and defend the (...)
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  34. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2005). An Obstacle to Unification in Biological Social Science: Formal and Compositional Styles of Science. Graduate Journal of Social Science 2 (2):40-100.
    I motivate the concept of styles of scientific investigation, and differentiate two styles, formal and compositional. Styles are ways of doing scientific research. Radically different styles exist. I explore the possibility of the unification of biology and social science, as well as the possibility of unifying the two styles I identify. Recent attempts at unifying biology and social science have been premised almost exclusively on the formal style. Through the use of a historical example of defenders of compositional biological social (...)
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  35. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2005). Evolutionary Developmental Biology Meets Levels of Selection: Modular Integration or Competition, or Both? In Werner Callebaut & Diego Rasskin-Gutman (eds.), Modularity. Understanding the Development and Evolution of Natural Complex Systems. MIT Press.
  36. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2003). Formal Biology and Compositional Biology as Two Kinds of Biological Theorizing. Dissertation, Indiana University, HPS
  37. Michael J. Wade, Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, Aneil F. Agrawal & Charles J. Goodnight (2001). Alternative Definitions of Epistasis: Dependence and Interaction. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 16 (9):498-504.
    Although epistasis is at the center of the Fisher-Wright debate, biologists not involved in the controversy are often unaware that there are actually two different formal definitions of epistasis. We compare concepts of genetic independence in the two theoretical traditions of evolutionary genetics, population genetics and quantitative genetics, and show how independence of gene action (represented by the multiplicative model of population genetics) can be different from the absence of gene interaction (represented by the linear additive model of quantitative genetics). (...)
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  38. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2001). Book Review:Ants at Work: How an Insect Society Is Organized Deborah Gordon. [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 68 (2):268-270.
  39. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2001). August Weismann on Germ-Plasm Variation. Journal of the History of Biology 34 (3):517-555.
    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 (...)
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  40. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2001). Varieties of Modules: Kinds, Levels, Origins, and Behaviors. Journal of Experimental Zoology 291:116-129.
    This article began as a review of a conference, organized by Gerhard Schlosser, entitled “Modularity in Development and Evolution.” The conference was held at, and sponsored by, the Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg in Delmenhorst, Germany in May, 2000. The article subsequently metamorphosed into a literature and concept review as well as an analysis of the differences in current perspectives on modularity. Consequently, I refer to general aspects of the conference but do not review particular presentations. I divide modules into three kinds: structural, (...)
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  41. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2000). Darwin on Variation and Heredity. Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3):425-455.
    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) (...)
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