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  1.  1
    Reconsidering Morphology Through an Experimental Case Study.Liliana Albertazzi, Luisa Canal, Paolo Chistè, Mara De Rosa, Rocco Micciolo & Alessandro Minelli - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (3):131-141.
    This study analyzes shells of marine gastropods of a zoological museum and the Latin epithets expressing perceptual and connotative attributes that they have received in the standard, Linnaean nomenclature. Making use of the Osgood semantic differential, we presented the subjects with digital 3-D reproductions of the shell specimens to be subjectively evaluated according to 17 pairs of attributes. The results show that, overall, the subjective evaluations given by the subjects are consistent, which suggests that an intersubjective characterization of the shells (...)
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  2.  8
    In Defense of Levels: Layer Cakes and Guilt by Association.Daniel Stephen Brooks - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (3).
    Despite the ubiquity of “levels of organization” in the scientific literature, a nascent “levels skepticism” now claims that the concept of levels is an inherently flawed, misleading, or otherwise inadequate notion for understanding how life scientists produce knowledge about the natural world. However, levels skeptics rely on the maligned “layer-cake” account of levels stemming from Oppenheim and Putnam’s defense of the unity of science for their critical commentary. Recourse to layer-cake levels is understandable, as it is arguably the default conception (...)
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  3. Base Composition, Speciation, and Why the Mitochondrial Barcode Precisely Classifies.Donald R. Forsdyke - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (3):157-168.
    While its mechanism and biological significance are unknown, the utility of a short mitochondrial DNA sequence as a “barcode” providing accurate species identification has revolutionized the classification of organisms. Since highest accuracy was achieved with recently diverged species, hopes were raised that barcodes would throw light on the speciation process. Indeed, a failure of a maternally donated, rapidly mutating, mitochondrial genome to coadapt its gene products with those of a paternally donated nuclear genome could result in developmental failure, thus creating (...)
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  4. A Phenomenological and Dynamic View of Homology: Homologs as Persistently Reproducible Modules.Daichi G. Suzuki & Senji Tanaka - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (3):169-180.
    Homology is a fundamental concept in biology. However, the metaphysical status of homology, especially whether a homolog is a part of an individual or a member of a natural kind, is still a matter of intense debate. The proponents of the individuality view of homology criticize the natural kind view of homology by pointing out that homologs are subject to evolutionary transformation, and natural kinds do not change in the evolutionary process. Conversely, some proponents of the natural kind view of (...)
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  5. A Note on Altruism in Asymmetric Games: An Indirect Evolutionary Approach.Wu Jiabin - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (3):181-188.
    This article studies the evolution of altruism. We consider a model in which a population of agents are assortatively matched to play some asymmetric two-player game, and evolution operates at the level of behavior rules. We find that the relationship between the evolutionarily stable level of altruism and the index of assortativity of matching is determined by two novel features: whether the total payoff function of the game exhibits complementarity or substitutability; whether the two players’ strategies affect each other’s fitness (...)
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  6. Three Modes of Evolution by Natural Selection and Drift: A New or an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis?Marion Blute - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (2):67-71.
    According to sources both in print and at a recent meeting, evolutionary theory is currently undergoing change which some would characterize as a New Synthesis, and others as an Extended Synthesis. This article argues that the important changes involve recognizing that there are three means by which evolutionary change can be initiated and three corresponding modes of evolutionary drift. It compares the three and goes on to discuss the scale of innovation and extended or inclusive and Lamarckian inheritance. It concludes (...)
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  7. Mechanistic Development.Kupiec Jean-Jacques - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (2):127-130.
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  8.  5
    Protolanguage Might Have Evolved Before Ostensive Communication.Ronald J. Planer - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (2).
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  9.  4
    On the Definition of Ecology.Mark Sagoff - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (2).
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  10. Taxonomy for Humans or Computers? Cognitive Pragmatics for Big Data.Beckett Sterner & Nico M. Franz - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (2):99-111.
    Criticism of big data has focused on showing that more is not necessarily better, in the sense that data may lose their value when taken out of context and aggregated together. The next step is to incorporate an awareness of pitfalls for aggregation into the design of data infrastructure and institutions. A common strategy minimizes aggregation errors by increasing the precision of our conventions for identifying and classifying data. As a counterpoint, we argue that there are pragmatic trade-offs between precision (...)
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  11. A Unifying Theory of Biological Function.J. H. van Hateren - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (2):112-126.
    A new theory that naturalizes biological function is explained and compared with earlier etiological and causal role theories. Etiological theories explain functions from how they are caused over their evolutionary history. Causal role theories analyze how functional mechanisms serve the current capacities of their containing system. The new proposal unifies the key notions of both kinds of theories, but goes beyond them by explaining how functions in an organism can exist as factors with autonomous causal efficacy. The goal-directedness and normativity (...)
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  12. How Did the Eukaryotes Evolve?Marcello Barbieri - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (1):13-26.
    The fossil record shows that the stromatolites built by cyanobacteria 2 and 3 billion years ago are virtually identical to those built by their modern descendants, which is just a part of much evidence revealing that bacteria have barely changed in billions of years. They appeared very early in the history of life and have conserved their complexity ever since. The eukaryotes, however, did the opposite. They repeatedly increased the complexity of their cells and eventually broke the cellular barrier and (...)
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  13.  3
    Explaining Drift From a Deterministic Setting.Pierrick Bourrat - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (1):27-38.
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  14. A Rule for Naming Objects.N. M. du Plessis - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (1):39-49.
    It is proposed that the collective identification of objects is a necessary phase in the evolution of language. A procedure of identification based on the first-person perspective is assumed that is guided by object constancy, the naming insight, and other more obvious features of language production. The mental image is the basic element of this procedure. The comparison of mental images is used to define recognition, and the identification and naming of macroscopic objects by a group of persons is formulated. (...)
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  15. Speciation: Goldschmidt's Chromosomal Heresy, Once Supported by Gould and Dawkins, is Again Reinstated.R. Forsdyke Donald - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (1):4-12.
    The view that the initiation of branching into two sympatric species may not require natural selection emerged in Victorian times. In the 1980s paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould gave a theoretical underpinning of this nongenic “chromosomal” view, thus reinstating Richard Goldschmidt’s “heresy” of the 1930s. From modeling studies with computer-generated “biomorphs,” zoologist Richard Dawkins also affirmed Goldschmidt, proclaiming the “evolution of evolvability.” However, in the 1990s, while Gould and Dawkins were recanting, bioinformatic, biochemical, and cytological studies were providing a deeper underpinning. (...)
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  16. A Taxonomy of Non-Fitness.Marta Linde-Medina - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (1):1-3.
    The current evolutionary taxonomy is biased towards traits that enhance the organism’s fitness. Here, an extended taxonomy aimed to correct this bias is proposed, which distinguishes among different categories of non-fitness traits based on their usefulness for the organism as well as their origin. It is suggested these new non-fitness categories could help to solve the controversy surrounding the term exaptation in evolutionary psychology.
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  17. Exaptation Revisited: Changes Imposed by Evolutionary Psychologists and Behavioral Biologists.Elisabeth A. Lloyd & Stephen Gould - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (1):50-65.
    Some methodological adaptationists hijacked the term “exaptation,” and took an occasion of Stephen Jay Gould’s misspeaking as confirmation that it possessed an evolutionarily “designed” function and was a version of an adaptation, something it was decidedly not. Others provided a standard of evidence for exaptation that was inappropriate, and based on an adaptationist worldview. This article is intended to serve as both an analysis of and correction to those situations. Gould and Elisabeth Vrba’s terms, “exaptation” and “aptation,” as originally introduced, (...)
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