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  1. A Framework for Philosophical Biology.Sepehr Ehsani - manuscript
    Advances in biology, at least over the past two centuries, have mostly relied on theories that were subsequently revised, expanded or eventually refuted using experimental and other means. The field of theoretical biology used to primarily provide a basis, similar to theoretical physics in the physical sciences, to rationally examine the frameworks within which biological experiments were carried out and to shed light on overlooked gaps in understanding. Today, however, theoretical biology has generally become synonymous with computational and mathematical biology. (...)
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  2. Types of Experiments and Causal Process Tracing: What Happened on the Kaibab Plateau in the 1920s?Roberta L. Millstein - manuscript
    I argue that Binkley et al. use causal process tracing in conjunction with a natural trajectory experiment and two natural snapshot experiments in their re-examination of the Kaibab. This shows that Aldo Leopold may have been right about trophic cascade in the Kaibab in the 1920s, i.e., that there are good reasons to think that a loss of predators led to a deer irruption which decreased aspen recruitment. Using the different cause-finding practices in combination can strengthen causal inferences and mitigate (...)
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  3. Is Genetic Drift a Force?Charles H. Pence - manuscript
    One hotly debated philosophical question in the analysis of evolutionary theory concerns whether or not evolution and the various factors which constitute it may profitably be considered as analogous to “forces” in the traditional, Newtonian sense. Several compelling arguments assert that the force picture is incoherent, due to the peculiar nature of genetic drift. I consider two of those arguments here – that drift lacks a predictable direction, and that drift is constitutive of evolutionary systems – and show that they (...)
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  4. The Conflation of "Chance" in Evolution.Charles H. Pence - manuscript
    Discussions of “chance” and related concepts are found throughout philosophical work on evolutionary theory. By drawing attention to three very commonly-recognized distinctions, I separate four independent concepts falling under the broad heading of “chance”: randomness, epistemic unpredictability, causal indeterminism, and probabilistic causal processes. Far from a merely semantic distinction, however, it is demonstrated that conflation of these obviously distinct notions has an important bearing on debates at the core of evolutionary theory, particularly the debate over the interpretation of fitness, natural (...)
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  5. When is a Biological Cause a Source of Information?Karola Stotz & Paul E. Griffiths - manuscript
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  6. Causal Specificity, Biological Possibility and Non-Parity About Genetic Causes.Marcel Weber - manuscript
    Several authors have used the notion of causal specificity in order to defend non-parity about genetic causes (Waters 2007, Woodward 2010, Weber 2017, forthcoming). Non-parity in this context is the idea that DNA and some other biomolecules that are often described as information-bearers by biologists play a unique role in life processes, an idea that has been challenged by Developmental Systems Theory (e.g., Oyama 2000). Indeed, it has proven to be quite difficult to state clearly what the alleged special role (...)
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  7. Causal Control: A Rationale for Causal Selection.Lauren N. Ross - 2015
    Causal selection has to do with the distinction we make between background conditions and “the” true cause or causes of some outcome of interest. A longstanding consensus in philosophy views causal selection as lacking any objective rationale and as guided, instead, by arbitrary, pragmatic, and non-scientific considerations. I argue against this position in the context of causal selection for disease traits. In this domain, causes are selected on the basis of the type of causal control they exhibit over a disease (...)
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  8. Signals are minimal causes.Marc Artiga - forthcoming - Synthese:1-19.
    Although the definition of ‘signal’ has been controversial for some time within the life sciences, current approaches seem to be converging toward a common analysis. This powerful framework can satisfactorily accommodate many cases of signaling and captures some of its main features. This paper argues, however, that there is a central feature of signals that so far has been largely overlooked: its special causal role. More precisely, I argue that a distinctive feature of signals is that they are minimal causes. (...)
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  9. How Interventionist Accounts of Causation Work in Experimental Practice and Why There is No Need to Worry About Supervenience.Tudor M. Baetu - forthcoming - Synthese:1-20.
    It has been argued that supervenience generates unavoidable confounding problems for interventionist accounts of causation, to the point that we must choose between interventionism and supervenience. According to one solution, the dilemma can be defused by excluding non-causal determinants of an outcome as potential confounders. I argue that this solution undermines the methodological validity of causal tests. Moreover, we don’t have to choose between intervention-ism and supervenience in the first place. Some confounding problems are effectively circumvented by experimental designs routinely (...)
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  10. What Caused the Bhopal Gas Tragedy? The Philosophical Importance of Causal and Pragmatic Details.Brian J. Hanley - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.
    In cases where many causes together bring about an effect, it is common to select some as particularly important. Philosophers since Mill have been pessimistic about analyzing this reasoning due its variability and the multifarious causal and pragmatic details of how it works. I argue Mill was right to think these details matter, but wrong that they preclude philosophical analysis of causal selection. I show that analyzing the pragmatic details of scientific debates about the important causes of the Bhopal Gas (...)
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  11. The Epistemology of Causal Selection: Insights From Systems Biology.Beckett Sterner - forthcoming - In C. Kenneth Waters (ed.), Causal Reasoning in Biology. University of Minnesota Press.
    Among the many causes of an event, how do we distinguish the important ones? Are there ways to distinguish among causes on principled grounds that integrate both practical aims and objective knowledge? Psychologist Tania Lombrozo has suggested that causal explanations “identify factors that are ‘exportable’ in the sense that they are likely to subserve future prediction and intervention” (Lombrozo 2010, 327). Hence portable causes are more important precisely because they provide objective information to prediction and intervention as practical aims. However, (...)
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  12. Causal Selection Versus Causal Parity in Biology: Relevant Counterfactuals and Biologically Normal Interventions.Marcel Weber - forthcoming - In C. Kenneth Waters & James Woodward (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Causal Reasoning in Biology. Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science. Vol. XXI. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
    Causal selection is the task of picking out, from a field of known causally relevant factors, some factors as elements of an explanation. The Causal Parity Thesis in the philosophy of biology challenges the usual ways of making such selections among different causes operating in a developing organism. The main target of this thesis is usually gene centrism, the doctrine that genes play some special role in ontogeny, which is often described in terms of information-bearing or programming. This paper is (...)
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  13. Islamic Thought in Africa: The Collected Works of Afa Ajura (1910-2004) and the Impact of Ajuraism on Northern Ghana.Alhaj Yusuf Salih Ajura & Zakyi Ibrahim - 2021 - Yale University Press.
    _The first book length-work on Afa Ajura and translation of his complete poems_ This is the first English translation of and commentary on the collected poems of Alhaj Yūsuf Ṣāliḥ Ajura, a northern Ghanaian orthodox Islamic scholar, poet, and polemicist known as Afa Ajura, or “scholar from Ejura.” The poems, all handwritten in Arabic script, mainly in the Ghanaian language of Dagbani and also Arabic, explore the author’s socio‑religious beliefs. In the accompanying introduction, the translator examines the diverse themes of (...)
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  14. Francis Galton’s Regression Towards Mediocrity and the Stability of Types.Adam Krashniak & Ehud Lamm - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 81:6-19.
    A prevalent narrative locates the discovery of the statistical phenomenon of regression to the mean in the work of Francis Galton. It is claimed that after 1885, Galton came to explain the fact that offspring deviated less from the mean value of the population than their parents did as a population-level statistical phenomenon and not as the result of the processes of inheritance. Arguing against this claim, we show that Galton did not explain regression towards mediocrity statistically, and did not (...)
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  15. Causal Concepts in Biology: How Pathways Differ From Mechanisms and Why It Matters.Lauren N. Ross - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (1):131-158.
    In the last two decades few topics in philosophy of science have received as much attention as mechanistic explanation. A significant motivation for these accounts is that scientists frequently use the term “mechanism” in their explanations of biological phenomena. While scientists appeal to a variety of causal concepts in their explanations, many philosophers argue or assume that all of these concepts are well understood with the single notion of mechanism. This reveals a significant problem with mainstream mechanistic accounts– although philosophers (...)
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  16. What’s All the Fuss About? The Inheritance of Acquired Traits is Compatible with the Central Dogma.M. Polo Camacho - 2020 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 42 (3):1-15.
    The Central Dogma of molecular biology, which holds that DNA makes protein and not the other way around, is as influential as it is controversial. Some believe the Dogma has outlived its usefulness, either because it fails to fully capture the ins-and-outs of protein synthesis (Griffiths and Stotz, 2013; Stotz, 2006), because it turns on a confused notion of information (Sarkar, 2004), or because it problematically assumes the unidirectional flow of information from DNA to protein (Gottlieb, 2001). This paper evaluates (...)
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  17. Semiosis and Information: Meeting the Challenge of Information Science to Post-Reductionist Biosemiotics.Arran Gare - 2020 - Biosemiotics 13 (3):327-346.
    The concept of information and its relation to biosemiotics is a major area of contention among biosemioticians. Biosemioticians influenced by von Uexküll, Sebeok, Bateson and Peirce are critical of the way the concept as developed in information science has been applied to biology, while others believe that for biosemiotics to gain acceptance it will have to embrace information science and distance biosemiotics from Peirce’s philosophical work. Here I will defend the influence of Peirce on biosemiotics, arguing that information science and (...)
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  18. Binding Specificity and Causal Selection in Drug Design.Oliver M. Lean - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (1):70-90.
    Binding specificity is a centrally important concept in molecular biology, yet it has received little philosophical attention. Here I aim to remedy this by analyzing binding specificity as a causal property. I focus on the concept’s role in drug design, where it is highly prized and hence directly studied. From a causal perspective, understanding why binding specificity is a valuable property of drugs contributes to an understanding of causal selection—of how and why scientists distinguish between causes, not just causes from (...)
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  19. A Theory of Evolution as a Process of Unfolding.Agustin Ostachuk - 2020 - Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy 16 (1):347-379.
    In this work I propose a theory of evolution as a process of unfolding. This theory is based on four logically concatenated principles. The principle of evolutionary order establishes that the more complex cannot be generated from the simpler. The principle of origin establishes that there must be a maximum complexity that originates the others by logical deduction. Finally, the principle of unfolding and the principle of actualization guarantee the development of the evolutionary process from the simplest to the most (...)
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  20. The Unfolding of a New Vision of Life, Cosmos and Evolution.Agustin Ostachuk - 2020 - Ludus Vitalis 28 (53):81-83.
    Has science already answered the fundamental questions about the concepts of Life, Cosmos and Evolution? Has science not relegated these fundamental questions by following up on more immediate, “useful” and practical endeavors that ultimately ensure that the wheel of capitalism keeps spinning in its frantic search for material and economic progress? There is something terribly wrong with the current theory of evolution, understood as the Darwinian theory with its successive versions and extensions. The concept of natural selection, the cornerstone of (...)
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  21. Beyond Quantitative and Qualitative Traits: Three Telling Cases in the Life Sciences.Davide Serpico - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (3):1-26.
    This paper challenges the common assumption that some phenotypic traits are quantitative while others are qualitative. The distinction between these two kinds of traits is widely influential in biological and biomedical research as well as in scientific education and communication. This is probably due to both historical and epistemological reasons. However, the quantitative/qualitative distinction involves a variety of simplifications on the genetic causes of phenotypic variability and on the development of complex traits. Here, I examine three cases from the life (...)
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  22. La differenza tra ereditarietà ed ereditabilità nello studio dei tratti psicologici.Davide Serpico - 2020 - Medicalive Magazine 6 (1):7-21.
    ITA: In questo articolo analizzerò la differenza tra il concetto di ereditarietà e quello di ereditabilità. In primo luogo, evidenzierò come i due concetti derivino storicamente da differenti tradizioni nello studio della variabili-tà fenotipica e del rapporto genotipo-fenotipo. Secondariamente, illustrerò gli aspetti teorici e metodologici alla base dei due concetti, che sono peraltro collegati a differenti aree delle scienze biologiche. Infine, spigherò brevemente come si sia recentemente tentato, con molte difficoltà, di connettere lo studio dei meccanismi dell’ereditarietà allo studio dell’ereditabilità. (...)
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  23. Pathogen Versus Microbiome Causation in the Holobiont.Aja Watkins & Federica Bocchi - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (1):1-6.
    In their paper “How Causal are Microbiomes? A Comparison with the Helicobacter pylori Explanation of Ulcers,” Lynch, Parke, and O’Malley successfully argue that certain causal attributions made to the microbiome have not satisfied Koch’s postulates nor the interventionist framework. However, their argument involves an implicit assumption that cases such as H. pylori are sufficiently similar to cases involving the microbiome, such that causal attributions to both should be evaluated according to the same causal framework. Our commentary targets this assumption. First, (...)
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  24. Pathogen Versus Microbiome Causation in the Holobiont.Aja Watkins & Federica Bocchi - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (1):1-6.
    In their paper “How Causal are Microbiomes? A Comparison with the Helicobacter pylori Explanation of Ulcers,” Lynch, Parke, and O’Malley successfully argue that certain causal attributions made to the microbiome have not satisfied Koch’s postulates nor the interventionist framework. However, their argument involves an implicit assumption that cases such as H. pylori are sufficiently similar to cases involving the microbiome, such that causal attributions to both should be evaluated according to the same causal framework. Our commentary targets this assumption. First, (...)
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  25. Pathogen Versus Microbiome Causation in the Holobiont.Aja Watkins & Federica Bocchi - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (1):1-6.
    In their paper “How Causal are Microbiomes? A Comparison with the Helicobacter pylori Explanation of Ulcers,” Lynch, Parke, and O’Malley successfully argue that certain causal attributions made to the microbiome have not satisfied Koch’s postulates nor the interventionist framework. However, their argument involves an implicit assumption that cases such as H. pylori are sufficiently similar to cases involving the microbiome, such that causal attributions to both should be evaluated according to the same causal framework. Our commentary targets this assumption. First, (...)
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  26. Evidence Amalgamation, Plausibility, and Cancer Research.Marta Bertolaso & Fabio Sterpetti - 2019 - Synthese 196 (8):3279-3317.
    Cancer research is experiencing ‘paradigm instability’, since there are two rival theories of carcinogenesis which confront themselves, namely the somatic mutation theory and the tissue organization field theory. Despite this theoretical uncertainty, a huge quantity of data is available thanks to the improvement of genome sequencing techniques. Some authors think that the development of new statistical tools will be able to overcome the lack of a shared theoretical perspective on cancer by amalgamating as many data as possible. We think instead (...)
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  27. Understanding Multicellularity: The Functional Organization of the Intercellular Space.Leonardo Bich, Thomas Pradeu & Jean-Francois Moreau - 2019 - Frontiers in Physiology 10.
    The aim of this paper is to provide a theoretical framework to understand how multicellular systems realize functionally integrated physiological entities by organizing their intercellular space. From a perspective centered on physiology and integration, biological systems are often characterized as organized in such a way that they realize metabolic self-production and self-maintenance. The existence and activity of their components rely on the network they realize and on the continuous management of the exchange of matter and energy with their environment. One (...)
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  28. How Causal Are Microbiomes? A Comparison with the Helicobacter Pylori Explanation of Ulcers.Kate E. Lynch, Emily C. Parke & Maureen A. O’Malley - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (6):62.
    Human microbiome research makes causal connections between entire microbial communities and a wide array of traits that range from physiological diseases to psychological states. To evaluate these causal claims, we first examine a well-known single-microbe causal explanation: of Helicobacter pylori causing ulcers. This apparently straightforward causal explanation is not so simple, however. It does not achieve a key explanatory standard in microbiology, of Koch’s postulates, which rely on manipulations of single-microorganism cultures to infer causal relationships to disease. When Koch’s postulates (...)
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  29. Organic Selection and Social Heredity: The Original Baldwin Effect Revisited.Nam Le - 2019 - Artificial Life Conference Proceedings 2019 (31):515-522.
    The so-called “Baldwin Effect” has been studied for years in the fields of Artificial Life, Cognitive Science, and Evolutionary Theory across disciplines. This idea is often conflated with genetic assimilation, and has raised controversy in trans-disciplinary scientific discourse due to the many interpretations it has. This paper revisits the “Baldwin Effect” in Baldwin’s original spirit from a joint historical, theoretical and experimental approach. Social Heredity – the inheritance of cultural knowledge via non-genetic means in Baldwin’s term – is also taken (...)
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  30. How Causal Are Microbiomes? A Comparison with the H Elicobacter Pylori Explanation of Ulcers.Kate E. Lynch, Emily C. Parke & Maureen A. O’Malley - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (6):62.
    Human microbiome research makes causal connections between entire microbial communities and a wide array of traits that range from physiological diseases to psychological states. To evaluate these causal claims, we first examine a well-known single-microbe causal explanation: of Helicobacter pylori causing ulcers. This apparently straightforward causal explanation is not so simple, however. It does not achieve a key explanatory standard in microbiology, of Koch’s postulates, which rely on manipulations of single-microorganism cultures to infer causal relationships to disease. When Koch’s postulates (...)
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  31. Genetic Relatedness and Its Causal Role in the Evolution of Insect Societies.Tuomas K. Pernu - 2019 - Journal of Biosciences 44:107.
    The role of genetic relatedness in social evolution has recently come under critical attention. These arguments are here critically analyzed, both theoretically and empirically. It is argued that when the conceptual structure of the theory of natural selection is carefully taken into account, genetic relatedness can be seen to play an indispensable role in the evolution of both facultative and advanced eusociality. Although reviewing the empirical evidence concerning the evolution of eusociality reveals that relatedness does not play a role in (...)
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  32. Social Evolution and the Two Elements of Causation.Tuomas K. Pernu & Heikki Helanterä - 2019 - Oikos 128:905-911.
    The kin selection theory has recently been criticised on the basis of claiming that genetic relatedness does not play a causal role in the social evolution among individuals of insect societies. We outline here a line of criticism of this view by demonstrating two things. First, there are strong conceptual, theoretical and empirical reasons to think that close genetic relatedness has been necessary for the rise of the helper castes of social insects. And second, once we understand how causal explanation (...)
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  33. Mechanistic Causation: Difference-Making is Enough.Stathis Psillos & Stavros Ioannidis - 2019 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 3 (38):53-75.
    In this paper we defend the view that mechanisms are underpinned by networks of difference-making relations. First, we distinguish and criticise two different kinds of arguments in favour of an activity-based understanding of mechanism: Glennan’s metaphysics- first approach and Illari and Williamson’s science-first approach. Second, we present an alternative difference-making view of mechanism and illustrate it by looking at the history of the case of scurvy prevention. We use the case of scurvy to argue that evidence for a mechanism just (...)
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  34. Changing The Definition of The Kilogram: Insights For Psychiatric Disease Classification.Hanna M. Van Loo, Jan-Willem Romeijn & Kenneth S. Kendler - 2019 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 26 (4):97-108.
    In psychiatry, many scientists desire to move from a classification system based on symptoms toward a system based on biological causes. The idea is that psychiatric diseases should be redefined such that each disease would be associated with specific biological causes. This desire is intelligible because causal disease models often facilitate understanding and identification of new ways to intervene in disease processes. In its attempt to move from syndromal to specific etiological definitions, psychiatry follows the trend of general medicine.Current psychiatric...
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  35. From Biological Determination to Entangled Causation.Davide Vecchi, Paul-Antoine Miquel & Isaac Hernández - 2019 - Acta Biotheoretica 67 (1):19-46.
    Biologists and philosophers often use the language of determination in order to describe the nature of developmental phenomena. Accounts in terms of determination have often been reductionist. One common idea is that DNA is supposed to play a special explanatory role in developmental explanations, namely, that DNA is a developmental determinant. In this article we try to make sense of determination claims in developmental biology. Adopting a manipulationist approach, we shall first argue that the notion of developmental determinant is causal. (...)
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  36. Hierarchy Theory of Evolution and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis: Some Epistemic Bridges, Some Conceptual Rifts.Alejandro Fábregas-Tejeda & Francisco Vergara-Silva - 2018 - Evolutionary Biology 45 (2):127-139.
    Contemporary evolutionary biology comprises a plural landscape of multiple co-existent conceptual frameworks and strenuous voices that disagree on the nature and scope of evolutionary theory. Since the mid-eighties, some of these conceptual frameworks have denounced the ontologies of the Modern Synthesis and of the updated Standard Theory of Evolution as unfinished or even flawed. In this paper, we analyze and compare two of those conceptual frameworks, namely Niles Eldredge’s Hierarchy Theory of Evolution (with its extended ontology of evolutionary entities) and (...)
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  37. Mechanisms in Practice: A Methodological Approach.Stavros Ioannidis & Stathis Psillos - 2018 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 24 (5):1177-1183.
    In this paper we offer a minimal characterisation of the concept of mechanism in biomedicine, according to which a mechanism is a theoretically described causal pathway. We argue that this conceptionan be drawn from scientific practice, as illustrated by how a central biological and biomedical mechanism, the mechanism of apoptosis, was first identified and characterised. We will use the example of cytological and biochemical theoretical descriptions of the mechanism of apoptosis to draw lessons about the meaning of the concept of (...)
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  38. Why a Convincing Argument for Causalism Cannot Entirely Eschew Population-Level Properties: Discussion of Otsuka.Brian McLoone - 2018 - Biology and Philosophy 33 (1-2):11.
    Causalism is the thesis that natural selection can cause evolution. A standard argument for causalism involves showing that a hypothetical intervention on some population-level property that is identified with natural selection will result in evolution. In a pair of articles, one of which recently appeared in the pages of this journal, Jun Otsuka has put forward a quite different argument for causalism. Otsuka attempts to show that natural selection can cause evolution by considering a hypothetical intervention on an individual-level property. (...)
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  39. Conceived This Way: Innateness Defended.Robert Northcott & Gualtiero Piccinini - 2018 - Philosophers' Imprint 18.
    We propose a novel account of the distinction between innate and acquired biological traits: biological traits are innate to the degree that they are caused by factors intrinsic to the organism at the time of its origin; they are acquired to the degree that they are caused by factors extrinsic to the organism. This account borrows from recent work on causation in order to make rigorous the notion of quantitative contributions to traits by different factors in development. We avoid the (...)
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  40. The Evolution Concept: The Concept Evolution.Agustin Ostachuk - 2018 - Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy 14 (3):354-378.
    This is an epistemologically-driven history of the concept of evolution. Starting from its inception, this work will follow the development of this pregnant concept. However, in contradistinction to previous attempts, the objective will not be the identification of the different meanings it adopted through history, but conversely, it will let the concept to be unfolded, to be explicated and to express its own inner potentialities. The underlying thesis of the present work is, therefore, that the path that leads to the (...)
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  41. Rethinking Causality in Biological and Neural Mechanisms: Constraints and Control.Jason Winning & William Bechtel - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (2).
    Existing accounts of mechanistic causation are not suited for understanding causation in biological and neural mechanisms because they do not have the resources to capture the unique causal structure of control heterarchies. In this paper, we provide a new account on which the causal powers of mechanisms are grounded by time-dependent, variable constraints. Constraints can also serve as a key bridge concept between the mechanistic approach to explanation and underappreciated work in theoretical biology that sheds light on how biological systems (...)
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  42. Dual Causality and the Autonomy of Biology.Walter Bock - 2017 - Acta Biotheoretica 65 (1):63-79.
    Ernst Mayr’s concept of dual causality in biology with the two forms of causes continues to provide an essential foundation for the philosophy of biology. They are equivalent to functional and evolutionary causes with both required for full biological explanations. The natural sciences can be classified into nomological, historical nomological and historical dual causality, the last including only biology. Because evolutionary causality is unique to biology and must be included for all complete biological explanations, biology is autonomous from the physical (...)
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  43. Signals That Make a Difference.Brett Calcott, Paul E. Griffiths & Arnaud Pocheville - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axx022.
    Recent work by Brian Skyrms offers a very general way to think about how information flows and evolves in biological networks — from the way monkeys in a troop communicate, to the way cells in a body coordinate their actions. A central feature of his account is a way to formally measure the quantity of information contained in the signals in these networks. In this paper, we argue there is a tension between how Skyrms talks of signalling networks and his (...)
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  44. Rethinking Causation in Cancer with Evolutionary Developmental Biology.Katherine E. Liu - 2017 - Biological Theory 13 (4):228-242.
    Despite the productivity of basic cancer research, cancer continues to be a health burden to society because this research has not yielded corresponding clinical applications. Many proposed solutions to this dilemma have revolved around implementing organizational and policy changes related to cancer research. Here I argue for a different solution: a new conceptualization of causation in cancer. Neither the standard molecular biomarker approaches nor evolutionary biology approaches to cancer fully capture its complex causal dynamics, even when considered jointly. These approaches (...)
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  45. In Defense of Methodological Mechanism: The Case of Apoptosis.Stavros Ioannidis & Stathis Psillos - 2017 - Axiomathes 27 (6):601-619.
    This paper advances the thesis of methodological mechanism, the claim that to be committed to mechanism is to adopt a certain methodological postulate, i.e. to look for causal pathways for the phenomena of interest. We argue that methodological mechanism incorporates a minimal account of understanding mechanisms, according to which a mechanism just is a causal pathway described in the language of theory. In order to argue for this position we discuss a central example of a biological mechanism, the mechanism of (...)
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  46. The Components and Boundaries of Mechanisms.Marie I. Kaiser - 2017 - In S. Glennan & P. Illari (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy. New York, USA: Routledge.
    Mechanisms are said to consist of two kinds of components, entities and activities. In the first half of this chapter, I examine what entities and activities are, how they relate to well-known ontological categories, such as processes or dispositions, and how entities and activities relate to each other (e.g., can one be reduced to the other or are they mutually dependent?). The second part of this chapter analyzes different criteria for individuating the components of mechanisms and discusses how real the (...)
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  47. A Causal Bayesian Network Model of Disease Progression Mechanisms in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia.Daniel Koch, Robert Eisinger & Alexander Gebharter - 2017 - Journal of Theoretical Biology 433:94-105.
    Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a cancer of the hematopoietic system initiated by a single genetic mutation which results in the oncogenic fusion protein Bcr-Abl. Untreated, patients pass through different phases of the disease beginning with the rather asymptomatic chronic phase and ultimately culminating into blast crisis, an acute leukemia resembling phase with a very high mortality. Although many processes underlying the chronic phase are well understood, the exact mechanisms of disease progression to blast crisis are not yet revealed. In (...)
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  48. Metaphysics and the Vera Causa Ideal: The Nun’s Priest’s Tale.Aaron Novick - 2017 - Erkenntnis 82 (5):1161-1176.
    L.A. Paul has recently defended the methodology of metaphysics on the grounds that it is continuous with the sciences. She claims that both scientists and metaphysicians use inference to the best explanation to choose between competing theories, and that the success of science vindicates the use of IBE in metaphysics. Specifically, the success of science shows that the theoretical virtues are truth-conducive. I challenge Paul’s claims on two grounds. First, I argue that, at least in biology, scientists adhere to the (...)
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  49. Comparing Causes - an Information-Theoretic Approach to Specificity, Proportionality and Stability.Arnaud Pocheville, Paul Edmund Griffiths & Karola C. Stotz - 2017 - Proceedings of the 15th Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science.
    The interventionist account of causation offers a criterion to distinguish causes from non-causes. It also aims at defining various desirable properties of causal relationships, such as specificity, proportionality and stability. Here we apply an information-theoretic approach to these properties. We show that the interventionist criterion of causation is formally equivalent to non-zero specificity, and that there are natural, information-theoretic ways to explicate the distinction between potential and actual causal influence. We explicate the idea that the description of causes should be (...)
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  50. Biological Information, Causality and Specificity - an Intimate Relationship.Karola Stotz & Paul E. Griffiths - 2017 - In Sara Imari Walker, Paul Davies & George Ellis (eds.), From Matter to Life: Information and Causality. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 366-390.
    In this chapter we examine the relationship between biological information, the key biological concept of specificity, and recent philosophical work on causation. We begin by showing how talk of information in the molecular biosciences grew out of efforts to understand the sources of biological specificity. We then introduce the idea of ‘causal specificity’ from recent work on causation in philosophy, and our own, information theoretic measure of causal specificity. Biological specificity, we argue, is simple the causal specificity of certain biological (...)
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