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  1. Recent Work on Individualism in the Social, Behavioural, and Biological Sciences.Robert A. Wilson - 2004 - Biology and Philosophy 19 (3):397-423.
    The social, behavioral, and a good chunk of the biological sciences concern the nature of individual agency, where our paradigm for an individual is a human being. Theories of economic behavior, of mental function and dysfunction, and of ontogenetic development, for example, are theories of how such individuals act, and of what internal and external factors are determinative of that action. Such theories construe individuals in distinctive ways.
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  • Genetic “Information” or the Indomitability of a Persisting Scientific Metaphor.Tareq Syed, Michael Bölker & Mathias Gutmann - 2008 - Poiesis and Praxis 5 (3-4):193-209.
    In the history of genetics, the information-theoretical description of the gene, beginning in the early 1960s, had a significant effect on the concept of the gene. Information is a highly complex metaphor which is applicable in view of the description of substances, processes, and spatio-temporal organisation. Thus, information can be understood as a functional particle of many different language games (some of them belonging to subdisciplines of genetics, as the biochemical language game, some of them belonging to linguistics and informatics). (...)
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  • The Arbitrariness of the Genetic Code.Ulrich E. Stegmann - 2004 - Biology and Philosophy 19 (2):205-222.
    The genetic code has been regarded as arbitrary in the sense that the codon-amino acid assignments could be different than they actually are. This general idea has been spelled out differently by previous, often rather implicit accounts of arbitrariness. They have drawn on the frozen accident theory, on evolutionary contingency, on alternative causal pathways, and on the absence of direct stereochemical interactions between codons and amino acids. It has also been suggested that the arbitrariness of the genetic code justifies attributing (...)
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  • John Maynard Smith’s Notion of Animal Signals.Ulrich E. Stegmann - 2005 - Biology and Philosophy 20 (5):1011-1025.
    This paper explores John Maynard Smith’s conceptual work on animal signals. Maynard Smith defined animal signals as traits that (1) change another organism’s behaviour while benefiting the sender, that (2) are evolved for this function, and that (3) have their effects through the evolved response of the receiver. Like many ethologists, Maynard Smith assumed that animal signals convey semantic information. Yet his definition of animal signals remains silent on the nature of semantic information and on the conditions determining its content. (...)
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  • Representation in the Genome and in Other Inheritance Systems.Nicholas Shea - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (3):313-331.
    There is ongoing controversy as to whether the genome is a representing system. Although it is widely recognised that DNA carries information, both correlating with and coding for various outcomes, neither of these implies that the genome has semantic properties like correctness or satisfaction conditions, In the Scope of Logic, Methodology, and the Philosophy of Sciences, Vol. II. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp. 387–400). Here a modified version of teleosemantics is applied to the genome to show that it does indeed have semantic (...)
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  • The genetic informational network: how DNA conveys semantic information.Emmanuel Saridakis - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (4):1-21.
    The question of whether “genetic information” is a merely causal factor in development or can be made sense of semantically, in a way analogous to a language or other type of representation, has generated a long debate in the philosophy of biology. It is intimately connected with another intense debate, concerning the limits of genetic determinism. In this paper I argue that widespread attempts to draw analogies between genetic information and information contained in books, blueprints or computer programs, are fundamentally (...)
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  • Mental Evolution: A Review of Daniel Dennett’s From Bacteria to Bach and Back. [REVIEW]Charles Rathkopf - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (6):1355-1368.
    From Bacteria To Bach and Back is an ambitious book that attempts to integrate a theory about the evolution of the human mind with another theory about the evolution of human culture. It is advertised as a defense of memes, but conceptualizes memes more liberally than has been done before. It is also advertised as a defense of the proposal that natural selection operates on culture, but conceptualizes natural selection as a process in which nearly all interesting parameters are free (...)
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  • Replacement of the “Genetic Program” Program.Ronald J. Planer - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (1):33-53.
    Talk of a “genetic program” has become almost as common in cell and evolutionary biology as talk of “genetic information”. But what is a genetic program? I understand the claim that an organism’s genome contains a program to mean that its genes not only carry information about which proteins to make, but also about the conditions in which to make them. I argue that the program description, while accurate in some respects, is ultimately misleading and should be abandoned. After that, (...)
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  • Arbitrary Signals and Cognitive Complexity.Ronald J. Planer & David Kalkman - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (2):563-586.
    The arbitrariness of a signal has long been seen as a theoretically important but difficult to pin down notion. In this article, we suggest there are at least two different notions of arbitrariness at play in philosophical and scientific debates concerning the use of arbitrary signals, and work towards improved analyses of both. We then consider how these different types of arbitrariness can co-occur and come apart. Finally, we examine the connections between these two types of arbitrariness and the cognitive (...)
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  • The Levels of Selection Debate: Philosophical Issues.Samir Okasha - 2006 - Philosophy Compass 1 (1):74–85.
    For a number of years, the debate in evolutionary biology over the ’levels of selection’ has attracted intense interest from philosophers of science. The main question concerns the level of the biological hierarchy at which natural selection occurs. Does selection act on organisms, genes, groups, colonies, demes, species, or some combination of these? According to traditional Darwinian theory the answer is the organism -- it is the differential survival and reproduction of individual organisms that drives the evolutionary process. But there (...)
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  • On Niche Construction and Extended Evolutionary Theory.Samir Okasha - 2005 - Biology and Philosophy 20 (1):1-10.
  • Proteins, the Chaperone Function and Heredity.Valeria Mosini - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (1):53-74.
    In this paper I use a case study—the discovery of the chaperon function exerted by proteins in the various steps of the hereditary process—to re-discuss the question whether the nucleic acids are the sole repositories of relevant information as assumed in the information theory of heredity. The evidence I here present of a crucial role for molecular chaperones in the folding of nascent proteins, as well as in DNA duplication, RNA folding and gene control, suggests that the family of proteins (...)
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  • Conflations in the Causal Account of Information Undermine the Parity Thesis.Barton Moffatt - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (2):284-302.
    The received view in philosophy of biology is that there is a well-understood, philosophically rigorous account of information—causal information. I argue that this view is mistaken. Causal information is fatally undermined by misinterpretations and conflations between distinct independent accounts of information. As a result, philosophical arguments based on causal information are deeply flawed. I end by briefly considering what a correct application of the relevant accounts of information would look like in the biological context.
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  • Taking Development Seriously: Who, What, When, Where, Why, How? [REVIEW]Alan C. Love - 2006 - Biology and Philosophy 21 (4):575-589.
  • Development Aid: On Ontogeny and Ethics.Tim Lewens - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 33 (2):195-217.
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  • Development Aid: On Ontogeny and Ethics.T. Lewens - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 33 (2):195-217.
    Human development is a matter of complex interactions between nutritional regimes, genes, educational regimes and other diverse developmental resources. I argue that there is no ethically salient difference between the contributions made to development by genes and the contributions made by these other resources. Since we think nutrition and schooling should be included in the calculus of distributive justice, we should include at least some genes in this calculus too. What is more, under the right circumstances genetic engineering may become (...)
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  • Chemical Arbitrariness and the Causal Role of Molecular Adapters.Oliver M. Lean - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 78:101180.
    Jacques Monod (1971) argued that certain molecular processes rely critically on the property of chemical arbitrariness, which he claimed allows those processes to “transcend the laws of chemistry”. It seems natural, as some philosophers have done, to interpret this in modal terms: a biological relationship is chemically arbitrary if it is possible, within the constraints of chemical “law”, for that relationship to have been otherwise than it is. But while modality is certainly important for understanding chemical arbitrariness, understanding its biological (...)
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  • Information, Meaning, and Error in Biology.Lucy A. K. Kumar - 2014 - Biological Theory 9 (1):1-11.
    Whether “information” exists in biology, and in what sense, has been a topic of much recent discussion. I explore Shannon, Dretskean, and teleosemantic theories, and analyze whether or not they are able to give a successful naturalistic account of information—specifically accounts of meaning and error—in biological systems. I argue that the Shannon and Dretskean theories are unable to account for either, but that the teleosemantic theory is able to account for meaning. However, I argue that it is unable to account (...)
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  • From Symbolism to Information? – Decoding the Gene Code.Frode Kjosavik - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (3):333-349.
    ‘Information’ and ‘code’ originated as technical terms within linguistics and information theory but are now widely used in genetics and developmental biology. Against this background, it is examined if coded information distinguishes genes from other information carriers, i.e., whether there are genetic words or sentences by virtue of the genetic code, and, if so, whether they have any semantic content. It is concluded that there is no genetic language with semantic content, but that the genetic code still enables unique language-like (...)
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  • Biological Codes and Topological Causation.Benjamin Jantzen & David Danks - 2008 - Philosophy of Science 75 (3):259-277.
    Various causal details of the genetic process of translation have been singled out to account for its privileged status as a ‘code'. We explicate the biological uses of coding talk by characterizing a class of special causal processes in which topological properties are the causally relevant ones. This class contains both the process of translation and communication theoretic coding processes as special cases. We propose a formalism in terms of graphs for expressing our theory of biological codes and discuss its (...)
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  • Information, Complexity and Generative Replication.Geoffrey M. Hodgson & Thorbjørn Knudsen - 2008 - Biology and Philosophy 23 (1):47-65.
    The established definition of replication in terms of the conditions of causality, similarity and information transfer is very broad. We draw inspiration from the literature on self-reproducing automata to strengthen the notion of information transfer in replication processes. To the triple conditions of causality, similarity and information transfer, we add a fourth condition that defines a “generative replicator” as a conditional generative mechanism, which can turn input signals from an environment into developmental instructions. Generative replication must have the potential to (...)
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  • Intentional Models as Essential Scientific Tools.Eric Hochstein - 2013 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (2):199-217.
    In this article, I argue that the use of scientific models that attribute intentional content to complex systems bears a striking similarity to the way in which statistical descriptions are used. To demonstrate this, I compare and contrast an intentional model with a statistical model, and argue that key similarities between the two give us compelling reasons to consider both as a type of phenomenological model. I then demonstrate how intentional descriptions play an important role in scientific methodology as a (...)
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  • Genetic Information: A Metaphor in Search of a Theory.Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (3):394-412.
    John Maynard Smith has defended against philosophical criticism the view that developmental biology is the study of the expression of information encoded in the genes by natural selection. However, like other naturalistic concepts of information, this ‘teleosemantic’ information applies to many non-genetic factors in development. Maynard Smith also fails to show that developmental biology is concerned with teleosemantic information. Some other ways to support Maynard Smith’s conclusion are considered. It is argued that on any definition of information the view that (...)
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  • The Introduction of Information Into Neurobiology.Justin Garson - 2003 - Philosophy of Science 70 (5):926-936.
    The first use of the term "information" to describe the content of nervous impulse occurs 20 years prior to Shannon`s (1948) work, in Edgar Adrian`s The Basis of Sensation (1928). Although, at least throughout the 1920s and early 30s, the term "information" does not appear in Adrian`s scientific writings to describe the content of nervous impulse, the notion that the structure of nervous impulse constitutes a type of message subject to certain constraints plays an important role in all of his (...)
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  • On Genic Representations.Martin Flament-Fultot - 2014 - Biological Theory 9 (2):149-162.
    A recent debate concerning the representational content of DNA in developmental processes has opposed “dynamicists” and “computationalists.” I review the arguments in favor of a representational interpretation of the role of genes, and show that they are inconclusive. There is a very restricted sense in which genes can be said to represent something, and stronger claims about DNA being a program for the construction of an organism are overstatements. I also show that arbitrariness, taken by representationalists to be a central (...)
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  • A Semiotic Analysis of the Genetic Information System.Claus Emmeche - 2006 - Semiotica 2006 (160):1-68.
    Terms loaded with informational connotations are often employed to refer to genes and their dynamics. Indeed, genes are usually perceived by biologists as basically ‘the carriers of hereditary information.’ Nevertheless, a number of researchers consider such talk as inadequate and ‘just metaphorical,’ thus expressing a skepticism about the use of the term ‘information’ and its derivatives in biology as a natural science. First, because the meaning of that term in biology is not as precise as it is, for instance, in (...)
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  • Handbook of Evolutionary Thinking in the Sciences.Thomas Heams, Philippe Huneman, Guillaume Lecointre & Marc Silberstein (eds.) - 2015 - Springer.
    The Darwinian theory of evolution is itself evolving and this book presents the details of the core of modern Darwinism and its latest developmental directions. The authors present current scientific work addressing theoretical problems and challenges in four sections, beginning with the concepts of evolution theory, its processes of variation, heredity, selection, adaptation and function, and its patterns of character, species, descent and life. The second part of this book scrutinizes Darwinism in the philosophy of science and its usefulness in (...)
  • If the Genome Isn’T a God-Like Ghost in the Machine, Then What is It?M. Blute - 2005 - Biology and Philosophy 20 (2-3):401-407.
    Implicit God-like and ghost-in-the-machine metaphors underlie much current thinking about genomes. Although many criticisms of such views exist, none have succeeded in substituting a different, widely accepted view. Viewing the genome with its protein packaging as a brain gets rid of Gods and ghosts while plausibly integrating machine and information-based views. While the ‘wetware’ of brains and genomes are very different, many fundamental principles of how they function are similar. Eukaryotic cells are compound entities in which case the nuclear genome (...)
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  • The Transmission Sense of Information.Carl T. Bergstrom & Martin Rosvall - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (2):159-176.
    Biologists rely heavily on the language of information, coding, and transmission that is commonplace in the field of information theory developed by Claude Shannon, but there is open debate about whether such language is anything more than facile metaphor. Philosophers of biology have argued that when biologists talk about information in genes and in evolution, they are not talking about the sort of information that Shannon’s theory addresses. First, philosophers have suggested that Shannon’s theory is only useful for developing a (...)
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  • Anticipatory Functions, Digital-Analog Forms and Biosemiotics: Integrating the Tools to Model Information and Normativity in Autonomous Biological Agents.Argyris Arnellos, Luis Emilio Bruni, Charbel Niño El-Hani & John Collier - 2012 - Biosemiotics 5 (3):331-367.
    We argue that living systems process information such that functionality emerges in them on a continuous basis. We then provide a framework that can explain and model the normativity of biological functionality. In addition we offer an explanation of the anticipatory nature of functionality within our overall approach. We adopt a Peircean approach to Biosemiotics, and a dynamical approach to Digital-Analog relations and to the interplay between different levels of functionality in autonomous systems, taking an integrative approach. We then apply (...)
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  • John Maynard Smith’s Typology of Animal Signals: A View From Semiotics.Timo Maran - 2009 - Sign Systems Studies 37 (3/4):477-495.
    Approaches to animal communication have for the most part been quite different in semiotics and evolutionary biology. In this context the writings of a leading evolutionary biologist who has also been attracted to semiotics — John Maynard Smith — are an interesting exception and object of study. The present article focuses on the use and adaptation of semiotic terminology in Maynard Smith’s works with reference to general theoretical premises both in semiotics and evolutionary biology. In developing a typology of animal (...)
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  • Idealist Origins: 1920s and Before.Martin Davies & Stein Helgeby - 2014 - In Graham Oppy & Nick Trakakis (eds.), History of Philosophy in Australia and New Zealand. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. pp. 15-54.
    This paper explores early Australasian philosophy in some detail. Two approaches have dominated Western philosophy in Australia: idealism and materialism. Idealism was prevalent between the 1880s and the 1930s, but dissipated thereafter. Idealism in Australia often reflected Kantian themes, but it also reflected the revival of interest in Hegel through the work of ‘absolute idealists’ such as T. H. Green, F. H. Bradley, and Henry Jones. A number of the early New Zealand philosophers were also educated in the idealist tradition (...)
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  • Traits, Genes, and Coding.Michael Wheeler - 2007 - In Michael Ruse (ed.), Philosophy of Biology. Prometheus Books. pp. 369--401.
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  • Replication and Reproduction.John Wilkins & Pierrick Bourrat - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • The Evolution of Complexity.Mark Bedau - 2009 - In Anouk Barberousse, M. Morange & T. Pradeau (eds.), Mapping the Future of Biology. Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol 266. Dordrecht: Springer.
  • La deriva genética como fuerza evolutiva.Ariel Jonathan Roffé - 2015 - In J. Ahumada, N. Venturelli & S. Seno Chibeni (eds.), Selección de Trabajos del IX Encuentro AFHIC y las XXV Jornadas de Epistemología e Historia de la ciencia. Córdoba, Argentina: pp. 615-626.
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  • A Theory of Conceptual Advance: Explaining Conceptual Change in Evolutionary, Molecular, and Evolutionary Developmental Biology.Ingo Brigandt - 2006 - Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh
    The theory of concepts advanced in the dissertation aims at accounting for a) how a concept makes successful practice possible, and b) how a scientific concept can be subject to rational change in the course of history. Traditional accounts in the philosophy of science have usually studied concepts in terms only of their reference; their concern is to establish a stability of reference in order to address the incommensurability problem. My discussion, in contrast, suggests that each scientific concept consists of (...)
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  • Philosophy, Drama and Literature.Rick Benitez - 2010 - In Graham Oppy & Steve Gardner (eds.), A Companion to Philosophy in Australia & New Zealand. Melbourne, Australia: Monash University Press. pp. 371-372.
    Philosophy and Literature is an internationally renowned refereed journal founded by Denis Dutton at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch. It is now published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. Since its inception in 1976, Philosophy and Literature has been concerned with the relation between literary and philosophical studies, publishing articles on the philosophical interpretation of literature as well as the literary treatment of philosophy. Philosophy and Literature has sometimes been regarded as iconoclastic, in the sense that it repudiates academic pretensions, (...)
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  • Environmental Ethics.Roberta L. Millstein - 2013 - In K. Kampourakis (ed.), The Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators. Springer.
    A number of areas of biology raise questions about what is of value in the natural environment and how we ought to behave towards it: conservation biology, environmental science, and ecology, to name a few. Based on my experience teaching students from these and similar majors, I argue that the field of environmental ethics has much to teach these students. They come to me with pent-up questions and a feeling that more is needed to fully engage in their subjects, and (...)
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  • La vaguedad de la vida: la Terceridad de Peirce en los sistemas biológicos.José Agustín Mercado Reyes - 2014 - Metatheoria – Revista de Filosofía E Historia de la Ciencia 5:65--78.
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