A number of debates in philosophy of biology and psychology, as well as in their respective sciences, hinge on particular views about the relationship between genotypes and phenotypes. One such view is that the genotype-phenotype relationship is relatively straightforward, in the sense that a genome contains the ?genes for? the various traits that an organism exhibits. This leads to the assumption that if a particular set of traits is posited to be present in an organism, there must be a corresponding (...) number of genes in that organism's genome to account for those traits. This assumption underlies what can be called the ?counting argument,? in which empirical estimates of the number of genes in a genome are used to support or refute particular hypotheses in philosophical debates about biology and psychology. In this paper, we assess the counting argument as it is used in discussions of the alleged massive modularity of the brain, and conclude that this argument cannot be upheld in light of recent philosophical work on gene concepts and empirical work on genome complexity. In doing so, we illustrate that there are those on both sides of the debate about massive modularity who rely on an incorrect view of gene concepts and the nature of the genotype-phenotype relationship. (shrink)
This volume provides a broad overview of issues in the philosophy of behavioral biology, covering four main themes: genetic, developmental, evolutionary, and neurobiological explanations of behavior. It is both interdisciplinary and empirically informed in its approach, addressing philosophical issues that arise from recent scientific findings in biological research on human and non-human animal behavior. Accordingly, it includes papers by professional philosophers and philosophers of science, as well as practicing scientists. Much of the work in this volume builds on presentations given (...) at the international conference, “Biological Explanations of Behavior: Philosophical Perspectives”, held in 2008 at the Leibniz Universität Hannover in Germany. The volume is intended to be of interest to a broad range of audiences, which includes philosophers (e.g., philosophers of mind, philosophers of biology, and metaethicists), as well as practicing scientists, such as biologists or psychologists whose interests relate to biological explanations of behavior. (shrink)
Fritz Allhoff: Philosophies of the Sciences: A Guide Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 319-325 DOI 10.1007/s10441-011-9129-x Authors Thomas A. C. Reydon, Institute of Philosophy & Center for Philosophy and Ethics of Science (ZEWW), Leibniz Universität Hannover, Im Moore 21, 30161 Hannover, Germany Journal Acta Biotheoretica Online ISSN 1572-8358 Print ISSN 0001-5342 Journal Volume Volume 59 Journal Issue Volume 59, Numbers 3-4.
Roger Sansom and Robert N. Brandon (eds.): Integrating Evolution and Development: From Theory to Practice Content Type Journal Article Pages 81-86 DOI 10.1007/s10441-010-9121-x Authors Thomas A. C. Reydon, Institute of Philosophy & Center for Philosophy and Ethics of Science (ZEWW), Leibniz Universität Hannover, Im Moore 21, 30167 Hannover, Germany Journal Acta Biotheoretica Online ISSN 1572-8358 Print ISSN 0001-5342 Journal Volume Volume 59 Journal Issue Volume 59, Number 1.
Recently, Barbara Renzi argued that Kuhn's account of scientific change is undermined by mismatches in the analogy that Kuhn supposedly draws between scientific change and biological evolution. We argue that Renzi's criticism is inadequate to Kuhn's account of scientific change, as Kuhn does not draw any precise analogy between the mechanisms of scientific change and biological evolution nor aims to argue that the mechanisms of scientific change and biological evolution are similar in any important respects. Therefore, pointing to mismatches between (...) the central concepts that feature in the descriptions of the two phenomena simply misses the point of Kuhn's analogy. *Received January 2010; revised January 2010. †To contact the authors, please write to: Thomas A. C. Reydon, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Im Moore 21, D‐30167 Hannover, Germany; e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org‐hannover.de. (shrink)
According to a recent suggestion, the names of gene taxa should be conceived of as referring to individuals with concrete genes as their parts, just as the names of biological species are often understood as denoting individuals with organisms as their parts. Although prima facie this suggestion might advance the debate on gene concepts in a similar way as the species-are-individuals thesis advanced the debate on species concepts, I argue that the principal arguments in support of the gene-individuality thesis are (...) much less compelling than the parallel arguments in the species case. In addition, I argue that the notion of biological function invoked in the gene-individuality thesis (selected effect) is not the one that biologists actually use when individuating genes. Contra the gene-individuality thesis, I argue that gene names refer to kinds, defined primarily (though not exclusively) by causal-role functions. (shrink)
Natural kinds are often contrasted with other kinds of scientific kinds, especially functional kinds, because of a presumed categorical difference in explanatory value: supposedly, natural kinds can ground explanations, while other kinds of kinds cannot. I argue against this view of natural kinds by examining a particular type of explanation—mechanistic explanation—and showing that functional kinds do the same work there as traditionally recognized natural kinds are supposed to do in “standard” scientific explanations. Breaking down this categorical distinction between traditional natural (...) kinds and other kinds of kinds, I argue, delivers two goods: It provides us with a view of natural kindhood that does justice to the epistemic roles of kinds in scientific explanations. And it allows us to solve a problem that HPC theory, currently one of the more popular accounts of natural kindhood, confronts. † To contact the author, please write to: Center for Philosophy and Ethics of Science (ZEWW), Leibniz University of Hannover, Im Moore 21, 30167 Hannover, Germany; e‐mail: email@example.com‐hannover.de. (shrink)
Natural kinds have been a constant topic in philosophy throughout its history, but many issues pertaining to natural kinds still remain unresolved. This paper considers one of these issues: the epistemic role of natural kinds in scientific investigation. I begin by clarifying what is at stake for an individual scientific field when asking whether or not the field studies a natural kind. I use an example from life science, concerning how biologists explain the similar body shapes of fish and cetaceans, (...) to show that natural kinds play a central epistemic role in scientific explanations that cannot be delegated to other explanatory factors. A task for philosophy, then, is to come up with a theory of natural kinds that adequately accounts for the epistemic role of natural kinds in science. After having sketched the spectrum of available philosophical theories of natural kinds, I argue that none of the available theories adequately performs this task and that therefore the search is still open for a theory that does. (shrink)
There is an interesting parallel between two debates in different domains of contemporary analytic philosophy. One is the endurantism–perdurantism, or three-dimensionalism vs. four-dimensionalism, debate in analytic metaphysics. The other is the debate on the species problem in philosophy of biology. In this paper I attempt to cross-fertilize these debates with the aim of exploiting some of the potential that the two debates have to advance each other. I address two issues. First, I explore what the case of species implies (...) regarding the feasibility of particular positions in the endurantism– perdurantism debate. I argue that the case of species casts doubt on the recent claim that three-dimensionalism and four-dimensionalism are equivalent descriptions of the same underlying reality. Second, and conversely, I examine whether the metaphysical worry about three-dimensionalism and four-dimensionalism can help us to better understand the nature of biological species. I show that analyzing the thesis that species are individuals against the background of the endurantism–perdurantism debate allows us to explicate two different ways in which this thesis can be interpreted. (shrink)
Recently Coleman and Wiley presented a new defense of the species-are-individuals thesis, based on an analysis of the use of binomial species names by biologists. Here I point out some problems in their defense and I argue that although in some domains of biological science species are best understood as individuals, Coleman and Wiley fail to establish that this is true for the whole of biology.