In evolutionary biology changes in population structure are explained by citing trait fitness distribution. I distinguish three interpretations of fitness explanations—the Two‐Factor Model, the Single‐Factor Model, and the Statistical Interpretation—and argue for the last of these. These interpretations differ in their degrees of causal commitment. The first two hold that trait fitness distribution causes population change. Trait fitness explanations, according to these interpretations, are causal explanations. The last maintains that trait fitness distribution correlates with population change but does not cause (...) it. My defense of the Statistical Interpretation relies on a distinctive feature of causation. Causes conform to the Sure Thing Principle. Trait fitness distributions, I argue, do not. *Received July 2009; revised October 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy/Institute for the History, Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto, Victoria College, 91 Charles Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7, Canada; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
We distinguish dynamical and statistical interpretations of evolutionary theory. We argue that only the statistical interpretation preserves the presumed relation between natural selection and drift. On these grounds we claim that the dynamical conception of evolutionary theory as a theory of forces is mistaken. Selection and drift are not forces. Nor do selection and drift explanations appeal to the (sub-population-level) causes of population level change. Instead they explain by appeal to the statistical structure of populations. We briefly discuss the implications (...) of the statistical interpretation of selection for various debates within the philosophy of biologythe `explananda of selection' debate and the `units of selection' debate. (shrink)
There are two competing interpretations of the modern synthesis theory of evolution: the dynamical (also know as ‘traditional’) and the statistical. The dynamical interpretation maintains that explanations offered under the auspices of the modern synthesis theory articulate the causes of evolution. It interprets selection and drift as causes of population change. The statistical interpretation holds that modern synthesis explanations merely cite the statistical structure of populations. This paper offers a defense of statisticalism. It argues that a change in trait frequencies (...) in a population can be attributed only to selection or drift against the background of a particular statistical description of the population. The traditionalist supposition that selection and drift are description‐independent causes of population change leads the dynamical interpretation into a dilemma: it must face a contradiction or accept the loss of explanatory power. (shrink)
The analysis of religious assertions in terms of a language game or in terms of eschotological verification are the two most notable defences today of the factual significance of religious language. But both of these approaches, I believe, are to be found wanting, not only on philosophical grounds, but especially on the grounds of faith. Neither of these approaches reflects ordinary faith, the faith of ordinary believers. And it is in terms of such ordinary faith that we can find the (...) key to a more adequate answer to the challenge of verifiability. (shrink)
According to Aristotelian essentialism, the nature of an organism is constituted of a particular goal-directed disposition to produce an organism typical of its kind. This paper argues—against the prevailing orthodoxy—that essentialism of this sort is indispensable to evolutionary biology. The most powerful anti-essentialist arguments purport to show that the natures of organisms play no explanatory role in modern synthesis biology. I argue that recent evolutionary developmental biology provides compelling evidence to the contrary. Developmental biology shows that one must appeal to (...) the capacities of organisms to explain what makes adaptive evolution adaptive. Moreover, the specific capacities in question are precisely those that, according to Aristotle, constitute the nature of an organism. Essentialism 1.1 Aristotelian biological kinds Evolutionary anti-essentialism 2.1 Taxonomic anti-essentialism 2.2 Explanatory anti-essentialism Adaptation 3.1 Stability 3.2 Mutability 3.3 Phenotypic plasticity and adaptive evolution The natures of organisms Conclusion. (shrink)
This paper examines a doctrine which David Lewis has called 'Humean Supervenience' (hereafter 'HS'), and a problem which certain imaginary cases seem to generate for HS. They include rotating perfect spheres or discs, and flowing rivers, imagined as composed of matter which is perfectly homogeneous right down to the individual points. Before considering these examples, I shall introduce the doctrine they seem to challenge.
Over the past fifteen years there has been a considerable amount of debate concerning what theoretical population dynamic models tell us about the nature of natural selection and drift. On the causal interpretation, these models describe the causes of population change. On the statistical interpretation, the models of population dynamics models specify statistical parameters that explain, predict, and quantify changes in population structure, without identifying the causes of those changes. Selection and drift are part of a statistical description of population (...) change; they are not discrete, apportionable causes. Our objective here is to provide a definitive statement of the statistical position, so as to allay some confusions in the current literature. We outline four commitments that are central to statisticalism. They are: 1. Natural Selection is a higher order eﬀect; 2. Trait fitness is primitive; 3. Modern Synthesis (MS)-models are substrate neutral; 4. MS-selection and drift are model-relative. (shrink)
There are two general approaches to characterising biological functions. One originates with Cummins. According to this approach, the function of a part of a system is just its causal contribution to some specified activity of the system. Call this the ‘C-function’ concept. The other approach ties the function of a trait to some aspect of its evolutionary significance. Call this the ‘E-function’ concept. According to the latter view, a trait's function is determined by the forces of natural selection. The C-function (...) and E-function concepts are clearly quite different, but there is an important relation between them which heretofore has gone unnoticed. The purpose of this paper is to outline that relation.This is not the first paper to discuss the relation of C-function and E-function. Previous attempts all follow either one of two strategies. The first proposes that the two concepts are ‘unified.’ The other proposes that they are radically distinct and apply to wholly different fields within biology. (shrink)
What is Life? This is the question asked by Denis Noble in this very personal and at times deeply lyrical book. Noble is a renowned physiologist and systems biologist, and he argues that the genome is not life itself: to understand what life is, we must view it at a variety of different levels, all interacting with each other in a complex web. It is that emergent web, full of feedback between levels, from the gene to the wider environment, (...) that is life. (shrink)
This article makes a contribution to the on-going debates about universalism and cultural relativism from the perspective of sociology. We argue that bioethics has a universal range because it relates to three shared human characteristics,—human vulnerability, institutional precariousness and scarcity of resources. These three components of our argument provide support for a related notion of ‘weak foundationalism’ that emphasizes the universality and interrelatedness of human experience, rather than their cultural differences. After presenting a theoretical position on vulnerability and human rights, (...) we draw on recent criticism of this approach in order to paint a more nuanced picture. We conclude that the dichotomy between universalism and cultural relativism has some conceptual merit, but it also has obvious limitations when we consider the political economy of health and its impact on social inequality. (shrink)
In this paper, we compare and contrast institutional theory and convention theory on the concept of mimetism, suggesting how they can cross-pollinate each other and more specifically how the self-referential quality of collective beliefs improves the understanding of mimetic isomorphism. We test this proposition with the case of responsible investment’s mainstreaming.First level results decompose the history of RI into five successive periods. A content analysis of articles on RI in the financial press leads to second level results consisting in a (...) number of salient representations of RI, which we consider to be the dominant conventions. The data is structured using a bracketing strategy, which allows a longitudinal analysis of conventions and their evolution over the five RI periods. (shrink)
What is Life? To answer this question, Denis Noble argues that we must look beyond the gene's eye view. For modern 'systems biology' considers life on a variety of levels, as an intricate web of feedback between gene, cell, organ, body, and environment. He shows how it is both a biologically rigorous and richly rewarding way of understanding life.
According to a prominent view of evolutionary theory, natural selection and the processes of development compete for explanatory relevance. Natural selection theory explains the evolution of biological form insofar as it is adaptive. Development is relevant to the explanation of form only insofar as it constrains the adaptation-promoting effects of selection. I argue that this view of evolutionary theory is erroneous. I outline an alternative, according to which natural selection explains adaptive evolution by appeal to the statistical structure of populations, (...) and development explains the causes of adaptive evolution at the level of individuals. Only together can a statistical theory of selection and a mechanical theory of development explain why populations of organisms comprise individuals that are adapted to their conditions of existence. (shrink)
Introduction -- Landscape and longing -- Art and human nature -- What is art? -- But they don't have our concept of art -- Art and natural selection -- The uses of fiction -- Art and human self-domestication -- Intention, forgery, dada : three aesthetic problems -- The contingency of aesthetic values -- Greatness in the arts.
What are the processes, from conception to adulthood, that enable a single cell to grow into a sentient adult? Neuroconstructivism is a pioneering 2 volume work that sets out a whole new framework for considering the complex topic of development, integrating data from cognitive studies, computational work, and neuroimaging.
L’oeuvre maîtresse de Gérard Siegwalt invite le lecteur à entrer dans une expérience théologique exigeante et originale. Quelles expériences apparaissent les plus marquantes et les plus signifiantes pour l’avenir du propos théologique contemporain? Quels réflexes peut-on reprendre pour aujourd’hui?
Denis McManus presents a novel account of Martin Heidegger's early vision of our subjectivity and the world we inhabit. He explores key elements of Heidegger's philosophy, and argues that Heidegger's central claims identify genuine demands that must be met if we are to achieve the feat of thinking determinate thoughts about the world around us.
Brentano’s metaphysical position in Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint is usually assumed to be metaphysical realism. I propose an alternative interpretation, according to which Brentano was at that time, as well as later, a full-fledged phenomenalist. However, his phenomenalism is markedly different from standard phenomenalism in that it does not deny that the physicist’s judgments are really about the objective world. The aim of the theory of intentionality, I argue, is to allow for extra-phenomenal aboutness within a phenomenalist framework.
Le Père Jean Richard, « théologien engagé », comme le suggère le Doyen de l'Université Laval, a trouvé dans l'œuvre de Paul Tillich un des axes majeurs de sa réflexion, que l'on retrouve largement évoquée dans la vingtaine de contributions qui lui sont offertes avec ce volume. «Tillichiana » (section V), tel est le titre regroupant les quatre derniers articles, qui ont en commun d'éclairer l'inscription de la Dogmatique et de la Théologie systématique de Tillich dans l'histoire de la pensée..
This article applies the Kantian doctrine of respect for persons to the problem of sweatshops. We argue that multinational enterprises are properly regarded as responsible for the practices of their subcontractors and suppliers. We then argue that multinationalenterprises have the following duties in their off-shore manufacturing facilities: to ensure that local labor laws are followed; to refrain from coercion; to meet minimum safety standards; and to provide a living wage for employees. Finally, we consider and reply to the objection that (...) improving health and safety conditions and providing a living wage will cause greater harm than good. (shrink)
In a series of reports the United Nations Special Representative on the issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations has emphasized a tripartite framework regarding business and human rights that includes the state “duty to protect,” the TNC “responsibility to respect,” and “appropriate remedies” for human rights violations. This article examines the recent history of UN initiatives regarding business and human rights and places the tripartite framework in historical context. Three approaches to human rights are distinguished: moral, political, and legal. (...) It is argued that the tripartite framework’s grounding of the responsibility of TNCs to respect human rights is properly understood as moral and not merely as a political or legal duty. A moral account of the duty of TNCs to respect basic human rights is defended and contrasted with a merely strategic approach. The main conclusion of the article is that only a moral account of the basic human rights duties of TNCs provides a sufficiently deep justification of “the corporate responsibility to respect human rights” feature of the tripartite framework. (shrink)
After sketching some aspects of truthmaker doctrines and "truthmaker projects", and canvassing some prima facie objections to the latter, I turn to an issue which might seem to involve confusion about the nature of character of truthmakers if such there be, viz for statements of identity and (specially) distinctness. The real issue here is versions of the Identity of Indiscernibles. I discuss ways of discriminating versions, which are almost certainly true but trivial, which almost certainly substantive but false, and explore (...) an interesting intermediate possibility which might if developed yield a plausibly true yet not-entirely-trivial version of the doctrine: it is equivalent to what I call "the Denial of Bare Distinctness". (shrink)