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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. Eye-contact and complex dynamic systems: an hypothesis on autism's direct cause and a clinical study addressing prevention.Maxson J. McDowell - manuscript
    (This version was submitted to Behavioral and Brain Science. A revised version was published by Biological Theory) Estimates of autism’s incidence increased 5-10 fold in ten years, an increase which cannot be genetic. Though many mutations are associated with autism, no mutation seems directly to cause autism. We need to find the direct cause. Complexity science provides a new paradigm - confirmed in biology by extensive hard data. Both the body and the personality are complex dynamic systems which spontaneously self-organize (...)
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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 ROLE OF TIME IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF BIO-MATERIALS: A NOVEL INSIGHT.Varanasi Ramabrahmam - manuscript
    Various understandings and definitions of time will be reviewed. The nature and structure of time will be reviewed and the concepts of time and passage of time will be refreshed. The fundamental role played by energy and four natural forces in the actions, reactions and interactions concerning matter, anti-matter, energy in space and time will be critically analyzed. The reality how time is constructed during the construction of materials will be presented and discussed. The classical and quantum ideas in this (...)
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  5. A heuristic model of cognition in a unicellular organism: a case study for exploring Peircean biosemiotics through relational biology.Timothy M. Rogers - manuscript
    This model is intended to provide a description of the organization of physical processes in a biological organism that could produce a rudimentary function of cognition. The model is based on the formulation of relational biology develop by Rosen. The model is used to explore the underlying logic and foundational principles of Peircean biosemiotics. The relational approach provides insight into the synchronization of developmental processes.
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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. Theory of evolution and historical explanation in biology.Keyvan Alasti - forthcoming - Philosophical Investigations.
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  9. Explaining Experience In Nature: The Foundations Of Logic And Apprehension.Steven Ericsson-Zenith - forthcoming - Institute for Advanced Science & Engineering.
    At its core this book is concerned with logic and computation with respect to the mathematical characterization of sentient biophysical structure and its behavior. -/- Three related theories are presented: The first of these provides an explanation of how sentient individuals come to be in the world. The second describes how these individuals operate. And the third proposes a method for reasoning about the behavior of individuals in groups. -/- These theories are based upon a new explanation of experience in (...)
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  10. Unifying the essential concepts of biological networks: biological insights and philosophical foundations.Daniel Kostic, Claus Hilgetag & Marc Tittgemeyer - forthcoming - Oxford, UK: Royal Society.
    Over the last two decades, network-focused approaches have become highly popular in diverse fields of biology, including neuroscience, ecology, molecular biology and genetics. While the network approach continues to grow very rapidly, some of its conceptual and methodological aspects still require a programmatic foundation. This challenge particularly concerns the question of whether a generalized account of explanatory, organisational and descriptive levels of networks can be applied universally across biological sciences. Consequently, the central focus of this theme issue will be on (...)
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  11. Decoupling Topological Explanations from Mechanisms.Daniel Kostic & Kareem Khalifa - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science:1-39.
    We provide three innovations to recent debates about whether topological or “network” explanations are a species of mechanistic explanation. First, we more precisely characterize the requirement that all topological explanations are mechanistic explanations and show scientific practice to belie such a requirement. Second, we provide an account that unifies mechanistic and non-mechanistic topological explanations, thereby enriching both the mechanist and autonomist programs by highlighting when and where topological explanations are mechanistic. Third, we defend this view against some powerful mechanist objections. (...)
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  12. Biological Machines: A Qualified Defense.Arnon Levy - forthcoming - Biology and Philosophy.
    I offer a defense, albeit a qualified one, of machine analogies in biology, focusing on molecular contexts. The defense is rooted in prior work (Levy 2014), which construes the machine machine-likeness of a system as a matter of the extent to which it exhibits an internal division of labor. A concrete aim is to shore up the notion of molecular biological machines, and I’ll pay special attention to processive molecular motors, such as Kinesin. But I will also try to show (...)
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  13. The Reference Class Problem in Evolutionary Biology: Distinguishing Selection from Drift.Michael Strevens - forthcoming - In Charles Pence & Grant Ramsey (eds.), Chance in Evolution.
    Evolutionary biology distinguishes differences in survival and reproduction rates due to selection from those due to drift. The distinction is usually thought to be founded in probabilistic facts: a difference in (say) two variants' average lifespans over some period of time that is due to selection is explained by differences in the probabilities relevant to survival; in the purest cases of drift, by contrast, the survival probabilities are equal and the difference in lifespans is a matter of chance. When there (...)
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  14. Causal Selection versus Causal Parity in Biology: Relevant Counterfactuals and Biologically Normal Interventions.Marcel Weber - forthcoming - In Brian J. Hanley & C. Kenneth Waters (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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  15. Counterpossibles in science: an experimental study.Brian McLoone, Cassandra Grützner & Michael T. Stuart - 2023 - Synthese 201 (1):1-20.
    A counterpossible is a counterfactual whose antecedent is impossible. The vacuity thesis says all counterpossibles are true solely because their antecedents are impossible. Recently, some have rejected the vacuity thesis by citing purported non-vacuous counterpossibles in science. One limitation of this work, however, is that it is not grounded in experimental data. Do scientists actually reason non-vacuously about counterpossibles? If so, what is their basis for doing so? We presented biologists (N = 86) with two counterfactual formulations of a well-known (...)
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  16. What’s at stake in the debate over naturalizing teleology? An overlooked metatheoretical debate.Carl Sachs & Auguste Nahas - 2023 - Synthese 201 (4):1-22.
    Recent accounts of teleological naturalism hold that organisms are intrinsically goaldirected entities. We argue that supporters and critics of this view have ignored the ways in which it is used to address quite different problems. One problem is about biology and concerns whether an organism-centered account of teleological ascriptions would improve our descriptions and explanations of biological phenomena. This is different from the philosophical problem of how naturalized teleology would affect our conception of nature, and of ourselves as natural beings. (...)
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  17. Control Mechanisms: Explaining the Integration and Versatility of Biological Organisms.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2022 - Adaptive Behavior.
    Living organisms act as integrated wholes to maintain themselves. Individual actions can each be explained by characterizing the mechanisms that perform the activity. But these alone do not explain how various activities are coordinated and performed versatilely. We argue that this depends on a specific type of mechanism, a control mechanism. We develop an account of control by examining several extensively studied control mechanisms operative in the bacterium E. coli. On our analysis, what distinguishes a control mechanism from other mechanisms (...)
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  18. Organization needs organization: Understanding integrated control in living organisms.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 93:96-106.
    Organization figures centrally in the understanding of biological systems advanced by both new mechanists and proponents of the autonomy framework. The new mechanists focus on how components of mechanisms are organized to produce a phenomenon and emphasize productive continuity between these components. The autonomy framework focuses on how the components of a biological system are organized in such a way that they contribute to the maintenance of the organisms that produce them. In this paper we analyze and compare these two (...)
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  19. Mechanisms in Science: Method or Metaphysics?Stavros Ioannidis & Stathis Psillos - 2022 - New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Stathis Psillos.
    In recent years what has come to be called the 'New Mechanism' has emerged as a framework for thinking about the philosophical assumptions underlying many areas of science, especially in sciences such as biology, neuroscience, and psychology. This book offers a fresh look at the role of mechanisms, by situating novel analyses of central philosophical issues related to mechanisms within a rich historical perspective of the concept of mechanism as well as detailed case studies of biological mechanisms. It develops a (...)
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  20. Topological Explanations: An Opinionated Appraisal.Daniel Kostić - 2022 - In I. Lawler, E. Shech & K. Khalifa (eds.), Scientific Understanding and Representation: Modeling in the Physical Sciences. Routledge. pp. 96-115.
    This chapter provides a systematic overview of topological explanations in the philosophy of science literature. It does so by presenting an account of topological explanation that I (Kostić and Khalifa 2021; Kostić 2020a; 2020b; 2018) have developed in other publications and then comparing this account to other accounts of topological explanation. Finally, this appraisal is opinionated because it highlights some problems in alternative accounts of topological explanations, and also it outlines responses to some of the main criticisms raised by the (...)
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  21. Free energy: a user’s guide.Stephen Francis Mann, Ross Pain & Michael D. Kirchhoff - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (4):1-35.
    Over the last fifteen years, an ambitious explanatory framework has been proposed to unify explanations across biology and cognitive science. Active inference, whose most famous tenet is the free energy principle, has inspired excitement and confusion in equal measure. Here, we lay the ground for proper critical analysis of active inference, in three ways. First, we give simplified versions of its core mathematical models. Second, we outline the historical development of active inference and its relationship to other theoretical approaches. Third, (...)
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  22. Vitalism and Cognition in a Conscious Universe.Marco Masi - 2022 - Communicative and Integrative Biology 1 (15):121-136.
    According to the current scientific paradigm, what we call ‘life’, ‘mind’, and ‘consciousness’ are considered epiphenomenal occurrences, or emergent properties or functions of matter and energy. Science does not associate these with an inherent and distinct existence beyond a materialistic/energetic conception. ‘Life’ is a word pointing at cellular and multicellular processes forming organisms capable of specific functions and skills. ‘Mind’ is a cognitive ability emerging from a matrix of complex interactions of neuronal processes, while ‘consciousness’ is an even more elusive (...)
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  23. Natural goodness without natural history.Parisa Moosavi - 2022 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research:78-100.
    Neo‐Aristotelian ethical naturalism purports to show that moral evaluation of human action and character is an evaluation of natural goodness—a kind of evaluation that applies to living things in virtue of their nature and based on their form of life. The standard neo‐Aristotelian view defines natural goodness by way of generic statements describing the natural history, or the ‘characteristic’ life, of a species. In this paper, I argue that this conception of natural goodness commits the neo‐Aristotelian view to a problematic (...)
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  24. Immunoglobulins and Antibodies: Conceptual Projections All the Way Down.Bartlomiej Swiatczak - 2022 - Constructivist Foundations 18 (1):85-86.
    Central to vaccination-induced responses, antibodies are suggested by Vaz to operate as observer-dependent entities that owe their status to categorization schemes of immunologists. Inspired by color research by Maturana, he argues that antibodies should be distinguished from immunoglobulins, which unlike the former can be considered as constituents of structural dynamics of an organism, products of millions of years of evolution. However, a deeper understanding of the historical roots of the concept of immunoglobulin and associated “languaging” and naming processes reveals that (...)
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  25. Understanding life through metaphors. [REVIEW]Bartlomiej Swiatczak - 2022 - Metascience 2022:1-3.
    There is a deep-seated neopositivist view which regards the language of science as a neutral medium of communication, radically different from indirect symbolic forms of discourse characteristic of arts and humanities. But naturalists, like poets and social scientists, also draw on the dominant images in their culture to organize their thoughts and simplify complex concepts. By conceptualizing one thing in terms of another, metaphors in science not only aid mutual communication between researchers but also structure their understanding of experience and (...)
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  26. Philosophy of Developmental Biology.Marcel Weber - 2022 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    The history of developmental biology is interwoven with debates as to whether mechanistic explanations of development are possible or whether alternative explanatory principles or even vital forces need to be assumed. In particular, the demonstrated ability of embryonic cells to tune their developmental fate precisely to their relative position and the overall size of the embryo was once thought to be inexplicable in mechanistic terms. Taking a causal perspective, this Element examines to what extent and how developmental biology, having turned (...)
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  27. Coherent Causal Control: A New Distinction within Causation.Marcel Weber - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (4):69.
    The recent literature on causality has seen the introduction of several distinctions within causality, which are thought to be important for understanding the widespread scientific practice of focusing causal explanations on a subset of the factors that are causally relevant for a phenomenon. Concepts used to draw such distinctions include, among others, stability, specificity, proportionality, or actual-difference making. In this contribution, I propose a new distinction that picks out an explanatorily salient class of causes in biological systems. Some select causes (...)
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  28. Continuing After Species: An Afterword.Robert A. Wilson - 2022 - In John S. Wilkins, Igor Pavlinov & Frank Zachos (eds.), Species Problems and Beyond: Contemporary Issues in Philosophy and Practice. New York: Routledge. pp. 343-353.
    This afterword to Species and Beyond provides some reflections on species, with special attention to what I think the most significant developments have been in the thinking of biologists and philosophers working on species over the past 25 years, as well as some bad jokes.
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  29. Revisiting abstraction and idealization: how not to criticize mechanistic explanation in molecular biology.Martin Zach - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (1):1-20.
    Abstraction and idealization are the two notions that are most often discussed in the context of assumptions employed in the process of model building. These notions are also routinely used in philosophical debates such as that on the mechanistic account of explanation. Indeed, an objection to the mechanistic account has recently been formulated precisely on these grounds: mechanists cannot account for the common practice of idealizing difference-making factors in models in molecular biology. In this paper I revisit the debate and (...)
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  30. An externalist teleology.Gunnar Babcock & Daniel W. McShea - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):8755-8780.
    Teleology has a complicated history in the biological sciences. Some have argued that Darwin’s theory has allowed biology to purge itself of teleological explanations. Others have been content to retain teleology and to treat it as metaphorical, or have sought to replace it with less problematic notions like teleonomy. And still others have tried to naturalize it in a way that distances it from the vitalism of the nineteenth century, focusing on the role that function plays in teleological explanation. No (...)
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  31. Autonomous Systems and the Place of Biology Among Sciences. Perspectives for an Epistemology of Complex Systems.Leonardo Bich - 2021 - In Gianfranco Minati (ed.), Multiplicity and Interdisciplinarity. Essays in Honor of Eliano Pessa. Springer. pp. 41-57.
    This paper discusses the epistemic status of biology from the standpoint of the systemic approach to living systems based on the notion of biological autonomy. This approach aims to provide an understanding of the distinctive character of biological systems and this paper analyses its theoretical and epistemological dimensions. The paper argues that, considered from this perspective, biological systems are examples of emergent phenomena, that the biological domain exhibits special features with respect to other domains, and that biology as a discipline (...)
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  32. Mechanism, autonomy and biological explanation.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (6):1-27.
    The new mechanists and the autonomy approach both aim to account for how biological phenomena are explained. One identifies appeals to how components of a mechanism are organized so that their activities produce a phenomenon. The other directs attention towards the whole organism and focuses on how it achieves self-maintenance. This paper discusses challenges each confronts and how each could benefit from collaboration with the other: the new mechanistic framework can gain by taking into account what happens outside individual mechanisms, (...)
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  33. The beauty of what is unfolding: philosophy, biology, and Laudato Si'.Louis Caruana - 2021 - Gregorianum 102 (3):617-631.
    One of the aims of the encyclical "Laudato Si’" is to help us “marvel at the manifold connections existing among creatures”, to show how we are also involved, and to motivate us thereby to care for our common home. Are there new dimensions of beauty available to us today because of recent advances in biology? In this paper I seek to answer this question by first recalling the basic criteria for beauty, as expressed by Aristotle and Aquinas, and then evaluating (...)
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  34. First principles in the life sciences: the free-energy principle, organicism, and mechanism.Matteo Colombo & Cory Wright - 2021 - Synthese 198 (14):3463–3488.
    The free-energy principle states that all systems that minimize their free energy resist a tendency to physical disintegration. Originally proposed to account for perception, learning, and action, the free-energy principle has been applied to the evolution, development, morphology, anatomy and function of the brain, and has been called a postulate, an unfalsifiable principle, a natural law, and an imperative. While it might afford a theoretical foundation for understanding the relationship between environment, life, and mind, its epistemic status is unclear. Also (...)
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  35. Wishful Intelligibility, Black Boxes, and Epidemiological Explanation.Marina DiMarco - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (5):824-834.
    Epidemiological explanation often has a “black box” character, meaning the intermediate steps between cause and effect are unknown. Filling in black boxes is thought to improve causal inferences by making them intelligible. I argue that adding information about intermediate causes to a black box explanation is an unreliable guide to pragmatic intelligibility because it may mislead us about the stability of a cause. I diagnose a problem that I call wishful intelligibility, which occurs when scientists misjudge the limitations of certain (...)
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  36. The meaning of "cause" in genetics.Kate E. Lynch - 2021 - Combining Human Genetics and Causal Inference to Understand Human Disease and Development. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine.
    Causation has multiple distinct meanings in genetics. One reason for this is meaning slippage between two concepts of the gene: Mendelian and molecular. Another reason is that a variety of genetic methods address different kinds of causal relationships. Some genetic studies address causes of traits in individuals, which can only be assessed when single genes follow predictable inheritance patterns that reliably cause a trait. A second sense concerns the causes of trait differences within a population. Whereas some single genes can (...)
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  37. Explanation in Evo-Devo.Marie I. Kaiser - 2021 - In L. N. de la Rosa & G. B. Müller (eds.), Evolutionary Developmental Biology - A Reference Guide. Cham: Springer.
    Evo-devo is a multidisciplinary field that investigates the interplay between evolutionary and developmental processes and brings together different kinds of explanatory strategies. This chapter examines the structure of paradigmatic explanations in evo-devo (e.g., the explanation of the origin of an evolutionary novelty) and raises philosophical questions about explanation in evo-devo. Much research in evo-devo is concerned with studying the developmental mechanisms that constrain and facilitate phenotypic evolution, which suggests that a distinctive feature of evo-devo is that it constructs mechanistic explanations. (...)
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  38. A New Role for Mathematics in Empirical Sciences.Atoosa Kasirzadeh - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (4):686-706.
    Mathematics is often taken to play one of two roles in the empirical sciences: either it represents empirical phenomena or it explains these phenomena by imposing constraints on them. This article identifies a third and distinct role that has not been fully appreciated in the literature on applicability of mathematics and may be pervasive in scientific practice. I call this the “bridging” role of mathematics, according to which mathematics acts as a connecting scheme in our explanatory reasoning about why and (...)
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  39. 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 (C):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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  40. Empirical assumptions behind the violation of expectation experiments in human and non-human animals.Andrea Soledad Olmos & Santiago Ginnobili - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (3):1-24.
    One of the most widely used procedures applied to non-human animals or pre-linguistic humans is the “violation of expectation paradigm”. Curiously there is almost no discussion in the philosophical literature about it. Our objective will be to provide a first approach to the meta-theoretical nature of the assumptions behind the procedure that appeals to the violation of expectation and to extract some consequences. We show that behind them exists an empirical principle that affirms that the violation of the expectation of (...)
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  41. 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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  42. The Epistemic Value of the Living Fossils Concept.Aja Watkins - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (5):1221-1233.
    Living fossils, taxa with similar members now and in the deep past, have recently come under scrutiny. Those who think the concept should be retained have argued for its epistemic and normative utility. This article extends the epistemic utility of the living fossils concept to include ways in which a taxon’s living fossil status can serve as evidence for other claims about that taxon. I will use insights from developmental biology to refine these claims. Insofar as these considerations demonstrate the (...)
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  43. Glycemia Regulation: From Feedback Loops to Organizational Closure.Leonardo Bich, Matteo Mossio & Ana M. Soto - 2020 - Frontiers in Physiology 11.
    Endocrinologists apply the idea of feedback loops to explain how hormones regulate certain bodily functions such as glucose metabolism. In particular, feedback loops focus on the maintenance of the plasma concentrations of glucose within a narrow range. Here, we put forward a different, organicist perspective on the endocrine regulation of glycaemia, by relying on the pivotal concept of closure of constraints. From this perspective, biological systems are understood as organized ones, which means that they are constituted of a set of (...)
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  44. The key role of underlying theories for scientific explanations. A darwinian case study.Daniel Blanco, Ariel Roffé & Santiago Ginnobili - 2020 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 24 (3):617-632.
    A given explanatory theory T falls into circular reasoning if the only way to determine its explanandum is through the application of T. To find an underlying theory T′ that determines T′s explanandum helps us save T from this accusation of circularity. We follow the structuralist view of theories in presenting and dealing with this issue, by applying it to particular theories. More specifically, we focus on the relationship between the Darwinian theory of common ancestry and the determination of homologies.
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  45. How Are Biology Concepts Used and Transformed?Ingo Brigandt - 2020 - In Kostas Kampourakis & Tobias Uller (eds.), Philosophy of Science for Biologists. Cambridge University Press. pp. 79–101.
  46. Is evolution fundamental when it comes to defining biological ontology? Yes.Ellen Clarke - 2020 - In Shamik Dasgupta, Brad Weslake & Ravit Dotan (eds.), Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science. Routledge.
    I argue for the usefulness of the evolutionary kind of biological individual.
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  47. From Life-Like to Mind-Like Explanation: Natural Agency and the Cognitive Sciences.Alex Djedovic - 2020 - Dissertation, University of Toronto, St. George Campus
    This dissertation argues that cognition is a kind of natural agency. Natural agency is the capacity that certain systems have to act in accordance with their own norms. Natural agents are systems that bias their repertoires in response to affordances in the pursuit of their goals. Cognition is a special mode of this general phenomenon. Cognitive systems are agents that have the additional capacity to actively take their worlds to be certain ways, regardless of whether the world is really that (...)
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  48. Analytic philosophy for biomedical research: the imperative of applying yesterday's timeless messages to today's impasses.Sepehr Ehsani - 2020 - In P. Glauner & P. Plugmann (eds.), Innovative Technologies for Market Leadership - Investing in the Future. Springer. pp. 167-200.
    The mantra that "the best way to predict the future is to invent it" (attributed to the computer scientist Alan Kay) exemplifies some of the expectations from the technical and innovative sides of biomedical research at present. However, for technical advancements to make real impacts both on patient health and genuine scientific understanding, quite a number of lingering challenges facing the entire spectrum from protein biology all the way to randomized controlled trials should start to be overcome. The proposal in (...)
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  49. The Animal Sexes as Historical Explanatory Kinds.Laura Franklin-Hall - 2020 - In Shamik Dasgupta, Ravit Dotan & Brad Weslake (eds.), Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science. Routledge. pp. 177-197.
    Though biologists identify individuals as ‘male’ or ‘female’ across a broad range of animal species, the particular traits exhibited by males and females can vary tremendously. This diversity has led some to conclude that cross-animal sexes (males, or females, of whatever animal species) have “little or no explanatory power” (Dupré 1986: 447) and, thus, are not natural kinds in any traditional sense. This essay will explore considerations for and against this conclusion, ultimately arguing that the animal sexes, properly understood, are (...)
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  50. General Theory of Topological Explanations and Explanatory Asymmetry.Daniel Kostic - 2020 - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 375 (1796):1-8.
    In this paper, I present a general theory of topological explanations, and illustrate its fruitfulness by showing how it accounts for explanatory asymmetry. My argument is developed in three steps. In the first step, I show what it is for some topological property A to explain some physical or dynamical property B. Based on that, I derive three key criteria of successful topological explanations: a criterion concerning the facticity of topological explanations, i.e. what makes it true of a particular system; (...)
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