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  1.  43
    Sandra D. Mitchell (2009). Unsimple Truths: Science, Complexity, and Policy. The University of Chicago Press Chicago and London.
    In Unsimple Truths, Sandra Mitchell argues that the long-standing scientific and philosophical deference to reductive explanations founded on simple universal ...
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  2.  13
    Sandra D. Mitchell (2003). Biological Complexity and Integrative Pluralism. Cambridge Univ Pr.
    This collection of essays by a leading philosopher of science defends integrative pluralism as the best description for today's complexity of scientific inquiry ...
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  3. Sandra D. Mitchell (2000). Dimensions of Scientific Law. Philosophy of Science 67 (2):242-265.
    Biological knowledge does not fit the image of science that philosophers have developed. Many argue that biology has no laws. Here I criticize standard normative accounts of law and defend an alternative, pragmatic approach. I argue that a multidimensional conceptual framework should replace the standard dichotomous law/accident distinction in order to display important differences in the kinds of causal structure found in nature and the corresponding scientific representations of those structures. To this end I explore the dimensions of stability, strength, (...)
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  4.  20
    Sandra D. Mitchell (1987). Competing Units of Selection?: A Case of Symbiosis. Philosophy of Science 54 (3):351-367.
    The controversy regarding the unit of selection is fundamentally a dispute about what is the correct causal structure of the process of evolution by natural selection and its ontological commitments. By characterizing the process as consisting of two essential steps--interaction and transmission--a singular answer to the unit question becomes ambiguous. With such an account on hand, two recent defenses of competing units of selection are considered. Richard Dawkins maintains that the gene is the appropriate unit of selection and Robert Brandon, (...)
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  5. Sandra D. Mitchell (2012). Emergence: Logical, Functional and Dynamical. [REVIEW] Synthese 185 (2):171-186.
    Philosophical accounts of emergence have been explicated in terms of logical relationships between statements (derivation) or static properties (function and realization). Jaegwon Kim is a modern proponent. A property is emergent if it is not explainable by (or reducible to) the properties of lower level components. This approach, I will argue, is unable to make sense of the kinds of emergence that are widespread in scientific explanations of complex systems. The standard philosophical notion of emergence posits the wrong dichotomies, confuses (...)
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  6. Sandra D. Mitchell (1997). Pragmatic Laws. Philosophy of Science 64 (4):479.
    Beatty, Brandon, and Sober agree that biological generalizations, when contingent, do not qualify as laws. Their conclusion follows from a normative definition of law inherited from the Logical Empiricists. I suggest two additional approaches: paradigmatic and pragmatic. Only the pragmatic represents varying kinds and degrees of contingency and exposes the multiple relationships found among scientific generalizations. It emphasizes the function of laws in grounding expectation and promotes the evaluation of generalizations along continua of ontological and representational parameters. Stability of conditions (...)
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  7.  86
    Sandra D. Mitchell (2008). Exporting Causal Knowledge in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology. Philosophy of Science 75 (5):697-706.
    In this article I consider the challenges for exporting causal knowledge raised by complex biological systems. In particular, James Woodward’s interventionist approach to causality identified three types of stability in causal explanation: invariance, modularity, and insensitivity. I consider an example of robust degeneracy in genetic regulatory networks and knockout experimental practice to pose methodological and conceptual questions for our understanding of causal explanation in biology. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of (...)
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  8. Sandra D. Mitchell (2002). Ceteris Paribus — an Inadequate Representation for Biological Contingency. Erkenntnis 57 (3):329-350.
    It has been claimed that ceteris paribus laws, rather than strict laws are the proper aim of the special sciences. This is so because the causal regularities found in these domains are exception-ridden, being contingent on the presence of the appropriate conditions and the absence of interfering factors. I argue that the ceteris paribus strategy obscures rather than illuminates the important similarities and differences between representations of causal regularities in the exact and inexact sciences. In particular, a detailed account of (...)
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  9.  91
    Sandra D. Mitchell (2002). Integrative Pluralism. Biology and Philosophy 17 (1):55-70.
    The `fact' of pluralism in science is nosurprise. Yet, if science is representing andexplaining the structure of the oneworld, why is there such a diversity ofrepresentations and explanations in somedomains? In this paper I consider severalphilosophical accounts of scientific pluralismthat explain the persistence of bothcompetitive and compatible alternatives. PaulSherman's `Levels of Analysis' account suggeststhat in biology competition betweenexplanations can be partitioned by the type ofquestion being investigated. I argue that thisaccount does not locate competition andcompatibility correctly. I then defend anintegrative (...)
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  10.  27
    Maureen O'Malley, Ingo Brigandt, Alan C. Love, John W. Crawford, Jack A. Gilbert, Rob Knight, Sandra D. Mitchell & Forest Rohwer (2014). Multilevel Research Strategies and Biological Systems. Philosophy of Science 81 (5):811-828.
    Multilevel research strategies characterize contemporary molecular inquiry into biological systems. We outline conceptual, methodological, and explanatory dimensions of these multilevel strategies in microbial ecology, systems biology, protein research, and developmental biology. This review of emerging lines of inquiry in these fields suggests that multilevel research in molecular life sciences has significant implications for philosophical understandings of explanation, modeling, and representation.
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  11.  9
    Sandra D. Mitchell & Angela M. Gronenborn (forthcoming). After Fifty Years, Why Are Protein X-Ray Crystallographers Still in Business? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axv051.
    It has long been held that the structure of a protein is determined solely by the interactions of the atoms in the sequence of amino acids of which it is composed, and thus the stable, biologically functional conformation should be predictable by ab initio or de novo methods. However, except for small proteins, ab initio predictions have not been successful. We explain why this is the case and argue that the relationship among the different methods, models, and representations of protein (...)
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  12.  41
    Sandra D. Mitchell (1995). Function, Fitness and Disposition. Biology and Philosophy 10 (1):39-54.
    In this paper I discuss recent debates concerning etiological theories of functions. I defend an etiological theory against two criticisms, namely the ability to account for malfunction, and the problem of structural doubles. I then consider the arguments provided by Bigelow and Pargetter (1987) for a more forward looking account of functions as propensities or dispositions. I argue that their approach fails to address the explanatory problematic for which etiological theories were developed.
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  13.  22
    Sandra D. Mitchell (1993). Dispositions or Etiologies? A Comment on Bigelow and Pargetter. Journal of Philosophy 60 (5):249-259.
  14.  23
    Sandra D. Mitchell (1989). The Causal Background of Functional Explanation. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 3 (2):213 – 229.
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  15.  32
    Sandra D. Mitchell (2007). The Import of Uncertainty. The Pluralist 2 (1):58 - 71.
    In this paper I argue that two domains of uncertainty should inform our strategies for making social policy on new genetic technologies. The first is biological complexity, which includes both unknown consequences on known variables and unknown unknowns. The second is value pluralism, which includes both moral conflict and moral pluralism. This framework is used to investigate policy on genetically modified food and suggests that adaptive management is required to track changes in biological knowledge of these interventions and that less (...)
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  16. John Beatty, Robert Brandon, Elliott Sober & Sandra D. Mitchell (1997). Symposium: Are There Laws in Biology? Philosophy of Science 64 (4):S432 - S479.
     
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  17.  10
    Robert E. Page & Sandra D. Mitchell (1990). Self Organization and Adaptation in Insect Societies. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990:289 - 298.
    Division of labor and its associated phenomena have been viewed as prime examples of group-level adaptations. However, the adaptations are the result of the process of evolution by natural selection and thus require that groups of insects once existed and competed for reproduction, some of which had a heritable division of labor while others did not. We present models, based on those of Kauffman (1984) that demonstrate how division of labor may occur spontaneously among groups of mutually tolerant individuals. We (...)
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  18.  9
    Sandra D. Mitchell (2002). Volume17 No. 1 January2002. Biology and Philosophy 17:749-752.
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  19.  7
    Sandra D. Mitchell (2008). Explaining Complex Behavior. In Kenneth S. Kendler & Josef Parnas (eds.), Philosophical Issues in Psychiatry: Explanation, Phenomenology, and Nosology. Johns Hopkins University Press 19--38.
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  20.  15
    Monique Borgerhoff Mulder & Sandra D. Mitchell (1994). Rough Waters Between Genes and Culture: An Anthropological and Philosophical View on Coevolution. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 9 (4):471-487.
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  21. Sandra D. Mitchell (1996). The Units of Behavior in Evolutionary Explanations. In Colin Allen & D. Jamison (eds.), Readings in Animal Cognition. MIT Press 129--142.
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  22. Sandra D. Mitchell (1993). Dispositions or Etiologies? A Comment On Bigelow and Pargetter. Journal of Philosophy 90 (5):249-259.
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  23.  12
    Sandra D. Mitchell, Anthropomorphism: Cross-Species Modeling.
    There has been a recent resurgence of interest in anthropomorphism, attributable to both the rise of cognitive ethology and the requirements of various forms of expanded, environmental ethics. The manner and degree to which non-human animals are similar to human beings has thus become a focus of scientific research and a necessary component to our decisions to act morally. At its basis, anthropomorphism involves claims about the similarity of non-human objects or beings to humans. Critics of anthropomorphism often attack the (...)
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  24.  3
    Sandra D. Mitchell (2008). Comment: Taming Causal Complexity. In Kenneth S. Kendler & Josef Parnas (eds.), Philosophical Issues in Psychiatry: Explanation, Phenomenology, and Nosology. Johns Hopkins University Press 125.
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  25.  4
    Sandra D. Mitchell (1986). Can Sociobiology Adapt to Cultural Selection? PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1986:87 - 96.
    Sociobiologists explain human social behavior as genetically adapative. The intervention of cultural learning into the processes of the acquisition and transmission of human behavior makes such explanation prima facie unjustified. William Durham has developed a theory of coevolution which claims that although the processes of genetic evolution and cultural evolution are independent, the results of the two processes are "functionally complementary." In this paper I characterize the conditions necessary for giving an explanation by adaptation of human behavior and argue that (...)
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  26.  5
    Sandra D. Mitchell (2003). Preface. Philosophy of Science 70 (5):vii-vii.
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  27. Sandra D. Mitchell (2004). Biological Complexity and Integrative Pluralism. Cambridge University Press.
    This fine collection of essays by a leading philosopher of science presents a defence of integrative pluralism as the best description for the complexity of scientific inquiry today. The tendency of some scientists to unify science by reducing all theories to a few fundamental laws of the most basic particles that populate our universe is ill-suited to the biological sciences, which study multi-component, multi-level, evolved complex systems. This integrative pluralism is the most efficient way to understand the different and complex (...)
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  28. Sandra D. Mitchell (2012). Biological Complexity and Integrative Pluralism. Cambridge University Press.
    This fine collection of essays by a leading philosopher of science presents a defence of integrative pluralism as the best description for the complexity of scientific inquiry today. The tendency of some scientists to unify science by reducing all theories to a few fundamental laws of the most basic particles that populate our universe is ill-suited to the biological sciences, which study multi-component, multi-level, evolved complex systems. This integrative pluralism is the most efficient way to understand the different and complex (...)
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  29. Sandra D. Mitchell (2006). Essay Review: Modularity-More Than a Buzzword? Biological Theory 1 (1):98.
     
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  30. Sandra D. Mitchell (2012). Unsimple Truths: Science, Complexity, and Policy. University of Chicago Press.
    The world is complex, but acknowledging its complexity requires an appreciation for the many roles context plays in shaping natural phenomena. In _Unsimple Truths, _Sandra Mitchell argues that the long-standing scientific and philosophical deference to reductive explanations founded on simple universal laws, linear causal models, and predict-and-act strategies fails to accommodate the kinds of knowledge that many contemporary sciences are providing about the world. She advocates, instead, for a new understanding that represents the rich, variegated, interdependent fabric of many levels (...)
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  31. Sandra D. Mitchell (2007). Vittorio Hösle;Christian Illies .Darwinism and Philosophy.392 Pp., Figs., Table, Bibls., Index. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005. $70 ; $35. [REVIEW] Isis 98 (3):664-665.
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