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  1.  9
    Causal Specificity and the Instructive–Permissive Distinction.Brett Calcott - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (4):481-505.
    I use some recent formal work on measuring causation to explore a suggestion by James Woodward: that the notion of causal specificity can clarify the distinction in biology between permissive and instructive causes. This distinction arises when a complex developmental process, such as the formation of an entire body part, can be triggered by a simple switch, such as the presence of particular protein. In such cases, the protein is said to merely induce or "permit" the developmental process, whilst the (...)
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  2.  3
    Innateness as Genetic Adaptation: Lorenz Redivivus (and Revised).Nathan Cofnas - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (4):559-580.
    In 1965, Konrad Lorenz grounded the innate–acquired distinction in what he believed were the only two possible sources of information that can underlie adaptedness: phylogenetic and individual experience. Phylogenetic experience accumulates in the genome by the process of natural selection. Individual experience is acquired ontogenetically through interacting with the environment during the organism’s lifetime. According to Lorenz, the adaptive information underlying innate traits is stored in the genome. Lorenz erred in arguing that genetic adaptation is the only means of accumulating (...)
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  3.  3
    Humans and Harems? Review of Out of Eden: The Surprising Consequences of Polygamy by David Barash.Catherine Driscoll - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (4):615-625.
    In “Out of Eden” David Barash argues that humans are naturally polygamous, in that they have innate polygamous preferences. In particular, Barash argues that human males have preferences and other psychological states designed to support aggressive polygynous sexual competition, and that the resulting behavior has driven the selection of various other psychological and behavioral traits in humans. This is controversial, since the prevailing view of the human mating system in our recent evolutionary history was that it was choice-based and only (...)
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  4.  6
    The Evolution of Syntactic Structure. [REVIEW]Richard Moore - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (4):599-613.
    Two new books—Creating Language: Integrating Evolution, Acquisition, and Processing by Morten H. Christiansen and Nick Chater, and Why Only Us: Language and Evolution by Robert C. Berwick and Noam Chomsky—present a good opportunity to assess the state of the debate about whether or not language was made possible by language-specific adaptations for syntax. Berwick and Chomsky argue yes: language was made possible by a single change to the computation Merge. Christiansen and Chater argue no: our syntactic abilities developed on the (...)
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  5.  8
    An Enactive Account of Placebo Effects.Giulio Ongaro & Dave Ward - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (4):507-533.
    Placebos are commonly defined as ineffective treatments. They are treatments that lack a known mechanism linking their properties to the properties of the condition on which treatment aims to intervene. Given this, the fact that placebos can have substantial therapeutic effects looks puzzling. The puzzle, we argue, arises from the relationship placebos present between culturally meaningful entities, our intentional relationship to the environment and bodily effects. How can a mere attitude toward a treatment result in appropriate bodily changes? We argue (...)
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  6.  2
    When is a Cladist Not a Cladist?Aleta Quinn - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (4):581-598.
    The term “cladist” has distinct meanings in distinct contexts. Communication between philosophers, historians, and biologists has been hindered by different understandings of the term in various contexts. In this paper I trace historical and conceptual connections between several broadly distinct senses of the term “cladist”. I propose seven specific definitions that capture distinct contemporary uses. This serves to disambiguate some cases where the meaning is unclear, and will help resolve apparent disagreements that in fact result from conflicting understandings of the (...)
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  7.  4
    Genetic Drift as a Directional Factor: Biasing Effects and a Priori Predictions.Ariel Jonathan Roffé - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (4):535-558.
    The adequacy of Elliott Sober’s analogy between classical mechanics and evolutionary theory—according to which both theories explain via a zero-force law and a set of forces that alter the zero-force state—has been criticized from various points of view. I focus here on McShea and Brandon’s claim that drift shouldn’t be considered a force because it is not directional. I argue that there are a number of different theses that could be meant by this, and show that one of those theses—the (...)
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  8.  2
    Cost, Expenditure and Vulnerability.P. Bruner Justin, Brusse Carl & Kalkman David - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (3):357-375.
    The handicap principle stipulates that signal reliability can be maintained if signals are costly to produce. Yet empirical biologists are typically unable to directly measure evolutionary costs, and instead appeal to expenditure as a sensible proxy. However the link between expenditure and cost is not always as straightforward as proponents of HP assume. We consider signaling interactions where whether the expenditure associated with signaling is converted into an evolutionary cost is in some sense dependent on the behavior of the intended (...)
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  9.  7
    What Are Cultural Attractors?Andrew Buskell - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (3):377-394.
    Concepts from cultural attractor theory are now used in domains far from their original home in anthropology and cultural evolution. Yet these concepts have not been consistently characterised. I here distinguish four ways in which the cultural attractor concept has been used and identify three kinds of factors of attraction typically appealed to. Clarifying these explanatory concepts identifies problems and ambiguities in the work of cultural epidemiologists and commentators alike.
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  10.  20
    Complexity Revisited.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (3):467-479.
    I look back at my 1996 book Complexity and the Function of Mind in Nature, responding to papers by Pamela Lyon, Fred Keijzer and Argyris Arnellos, and Matt Grove.
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  11.  3
    Environmental Complexity, Life History, and Encephalisation in Human Evolution.Grove Matt - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (3):395-420.
    Brain size has increased threefold during the course of human evolution, whilst body weight has approximately doubled. These increases in brain and body size suggest that reproductive rates must have slowed considerably during this period. During the same period, however, environmental heterogeneity has increased substantially. A central tenet of life-history theory states that in heterogeneous environments, organisms with fast life histories will be favoured. The human lineage, therefore, has proceeded in direct contradiction of this theory. This contribution attempts to resolve (...)
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  12.  21
    Structural Representations: Causally Relevant and Different From Detectors.Paweł Gładziejewski & Marcin Miłkowski - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (3):337-355.
    This paper centers around the notion that internal, mental representations are grounded in structural similarity, i.e., that they are so-called S-representations. We show how S-representations may be causally relevant and argue that they are distinct from mere detectors. First, using the neomechanist theory of explanation and the interventionist account of causal relevance, we provide a precise interpretation of the claim that in S-representations, structural similarity serves as a “fuel of success”, i.e., a relation that is exploitable for the representation using (...)
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  13.  5
    The Animal Sensorimotor Organization: A Challenge for the Environmental Complexity Thesis.Fred Keijzer & Argyris Arnellos - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (3):421-441.
    Godfrey-Smith’s environmental complexity thesis is most often applied to multicellular animals and the complexity of their macroscopic environments to explain how cognition evolved. We think that the ECT may be less suited to explain the origins of the animal bodily organization, including this organization’s potentiality for dealing with complex macroscopic environments. We argue that acquiring the fundamental sensorimotor features of the animal body may be better explained as a consequence of dealing with internal bodily—rather than environmental complexity. To press and (...)
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  14.  7
    Environmental Complexity, Adaptability and Bacterial Cognition: Godfrey-Smith’s Hypothesis Under the Microscope.Pamela Lyon - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (3):443-465.
    The paper presents evidence in bacteria for the utility of Godfrey-Smith’s environmental complexity thesis, using certain kinds of signal transduction systems as proxies for cognitive/behavioral complexity. Microbiologists already accept that the number of signal transduction proteins in a bacterial genome indicates the level of ecological complexity to which the organism is subject: the more signalling proteins, the greater the complexity. Sheer numbers are not always a reliable indicator of behavioral complexity, however. The paper proposes a new, ECT-based procedure for identifying, (...)
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  15.  7
    Neural Information and the Problem of Objectivity.Charles Rathkopf - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (3):321-336.
    A fascinating research program in neurophysiology attempts to quantify the amount of information transmitted by single neurons. The claims that emerge from this research raise new philosophical questions about the nature of information. What kind of information is being quantified? Do the resulting quantities describe empirical magnitudes like those found elsewhere in the natural sciences? In this article, it is argued that neural information quantities have a relativisitic character that makes them distinct from the kinds of information typically discussed in (...)
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  16.  2
    Making Do Without Selection—Review Essay of “Cultural Evolution: Conceptual Challenges” by Tim Lewens.Carl Brusse - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (2):307-319.
    Cultural evolution is a growing, interdisciplinary, and disparate field of research. In ‘Cultural evolution: conceptual challenges”, Tim Lewens offers an ambitious analytical survey of this field that aims to clarify and defend its epistemic contributions, and highlight the limitations and risks associated with them. One overarching contention is that a form of population thinking dubbed the ‘kinetic approach’ should be seen as a unifying and justifying principle for cultural evolution, especially when considering the role of formal modelling. This book makes (...)
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  17.  24
    The Swashbuckling Anthropologist: Henrich on The Secret of Our Success. [REVIEW]Ellen Clarke & Cecilia Heyes - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (2):289-305.
    In The Secret of Our Success, Joseph Henrich claims that human beings are unique—different from all other animals—because we engage in cumulative cultural evolution. It is the technological and social products of cumulative cultural evolution, not the intrinsic rationality or ‘smartness’ of individual humans, that enable us to live in a huge range of different habitats, and to dominate most of the creatures who share those habitats with us. We are sympathetic to this general view, the latest expression of the (...)
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  18.  6
    Prediction in Evolutionary Systems.Steve Donaldson, Thomas Woolley, Nick Dzugan & Jason Goebel - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (2):169-199.
    Despite its explanatory clout, the theory of evolution has thus far compiled a modest record with respect to predictive power—that other major hallmark of scientific theories. This is considered by many to be an acceptable limitation of a theory that deals with events and processes that are intrinsically random. However, whether this is an inherent restriction or simply the sign of an incomplete theory is an open question. In an attempt to help answer that question, we propose a classification scheme (...)
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  19.  9
    On the Neural Enrichment of Economic Models: Recasting the Challenge.Roberto Fumagalli - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (2):201-220.
    In a recent article in this Journal, Fumagalli argues that economists are provisionally justified in resisting prominent calls to integrate neural variables into economic models of choice. In other articles, various authors engage with Fumagalli’s argument and try to substantiate three often-made claims concerning neuroeconomic modelling. First, the benefits derivable from neurally informing some economic models of choice do not involve significant tractability costs. Second, neuroeconomic modelling is best understood within Marr’s three-level of analysis framework for information-processing systems. And third, (...)
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  20.  11
    Is Self-Deception an Effective Non-Cooperative Strategy?Eric Funkhouser - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (2):221-242.
    Robert Trivers has proposed perhaps the only serious adaptationist account of self-deception—that the primary function of self-deception is to better deceive others. But this account covers only a subset of cases and needs further refinement. A better evolutionary account of self-deception and cognitive biases more generally will more rigorously recognize the various ways in which false beliefs affect both the self and others. This article offers formulas for determining the optimal doxastic orientation, giving special consideration to conflicted self-deception as an (...)
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  21.  4
    Metastasis as Supra-Cellular Selection? A Reply to Lean and Plutynski.Germain Pierre-Luc & Laplane Lucie - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (2):281-287.
    In response to Germain argument that evolution by natural selection has a limited explanatory power in cancer, Lean and Plutynski have recently argued that many adaptations in cancer only make sense at the tumor level, and that cancer progression mirrors the major evolutionary transitions. While we agree that selection could potentially act at various levels of organization in cancers, we argue that tumor-level selection is unlikely to actually play a relevant role in our understanding of the somatic evolution of human (...)
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  22.  12
    Gouldian Arguments and the Sources of Contingency.Alison K. McConwell & Adrian Currie - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (2):243-261.
    ‘Gouldian arguments’ appeal to the contingency of a scientific domain to establish that domain’s autonomy from some body of theory. For instance, pointing to evolutionary contingency, Stephen Jay Gould suggested that natural selection alone is insufficient to explain life on the macroevolutionary scale. In analysing contingency, philosophers have provided source-independent accounts, understanding how events and processes structure history without attending to the nature of those events and processes. But Gouldian Arguments require source-dependent notions of contingency. An account of contingency is (...)
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  23.  12
    Thirty Years of Biology & Philosophy: Philosophy of Which Biology?Pradeu Thomas - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (2):149-167.
    Which domains of biology do philosophers of biology primarily study? The fact that philosophy of biology has been dominated by an interest for evolutionary biology is widely admitted, but it has not been strictly demonstrated. Here I analyse the topics of all the papers published in Biology & Philosophy, just as the journal celebrates its thirtieth anniversary. I then compare the distribution of biological topics in Biology & Philosophy with that of the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of (...)
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  24.  17
    What’s Wrong with Evolutionary Biology?John J. Welch - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (2):263-279.
    There have been periodic claims that evolutionary biology needs urgent reform, and this article tries to account for the volume and persistence of this discontent. It is argued that a few inescapable properties of the field make it prone to criticisms of predictable kinds, whether or not the criticisms have any merit. For example, the variety of living things and the complexity of evolution make it easy to generate data that seem revolutionary, and lead to disappointment with existing explanatory frameworks. (...)
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  25.  21
    It’s the Song, Not the Singer: An Exploration of Holobiosis and Evolutionary Theory.W. Ford Doolittle & Austin Booth - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (1):5-24.
    That holobionts are units of selection squares poorly with the observation that microbes are often recruited from the environment, not passed down vertically from parent to offspring, as required for collective reproduction. The taxonomic makeup of a holobiont’s microbial community may vary over its lifetime and differ from that of conspecifics. In contrast, biochemical functions of the microbiota and contributions to host biology are more conserved, with taxonomically variable but functionally similar microbes recurring across generations and hosts. To save what (...)
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  26.  16
    Heritability and Causal Reasoning.E. Lynch Kate - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (1):25-49.
    Gene–environment covariance is the phenomenon whereby genetic differences bias variation in developmental environment, and is particularly problematic for assigning genetic and environmental causation in a heritability analysis. The interpretation of these cases has differed amongst biologists and philosophers, leading some to reject the utility of heritability estimates altogether. This paper examines the factors that influence causal reasoning when G–E covariance is present, leading to interpretive disagreement between scholars. It argues that the causal intuitions elicited are influenced by concepts of agency (...)
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  27.  5
    Are Humans Disturbing Conditions in Ecology?S. Andrew Inkpen - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (1):51-71.
    In this paper I argue, first, that ecologists have routinely treated humans—or more specifically, anthropogenic causal factors—as disturbing conditions. I define disturbing conditions as exogenous variables, variables “outside” a model, that when present in a target system, inhibit the applicability or accuracy of the model. This treatment is surprising given that humans play a dominant role in many ecosystems and definitions of ecology contain no fundamental distinction between human and natural. Second, I argue that the treatment of humans as disturbing (...)
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  28.  30
    One Equation to Rule Them All: A Philosophical Analysis of the Price Equation.Victor J. Luque - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (1):97-125.
    This paper provides a philosophical analysis of the Price equation and its role in evolutionary theory. Traditional models in population genetics postulate simplifying assumptions in order to make the models mathematically tractable. On the contrary, the Price equation implies a very specific way of theorizing, starting with assumptions that we think are true and then deriving from them the mathematical rules of the system. I argue that the Price equation is a generalization-sketch, whose main purpose is to provide a unifying (...)
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  29. Heritability and Causal Reasoning.Kate Lynch - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (1):25-49.
     
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  30.  9
    Robustness in Evolutionary Explanations: A Positive Account.Cédric Paternotte & Jonathan Grose - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (1):73-96.
    Robustness analysis is widespread in science, but philosophers have struggled to justify its confirmatory power. We provide a positive account of robustness by analysing some explicit and implicit uses of within and across-model robustness in evolutionary theory. We argue that appeals to robustness are usually difficult to justify because they aim to increase the likeliness that a phenomenon obtains. However, we show that robust results are necessary for explanations of phenomena with specific properties. Across-model robustness is necessary for how-possibly explanations (...)
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  31.  5
    Inheritance by Recruitment.Makmiller Pedroso - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (1):127-131.
    Doolittle :351–378, 2013) and Ereshefsky and Pedroso argue that selection can act at the level of biofilms and other microbial communities. Clarke is skeptical and argues that selection acts on microbial cells rather than microbial communities. Her main criticism is that biofilms lack one of the ingredients required for selection to operate: heritability. This paper replies to her concern by elaborating how biofilm-level traits can be inheritable.
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  32.  32
    Farewell.Kim Sterelny - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (1):1-3.
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  33.  3
    Mother Nature Kicks Back: Review of Sean B. Carroll’s 2016 The Serengeti Rules. [REVIEW]Lachlan Douglas Walmsley - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (1):133-146.
    Sean B. Carroll’s new book, The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why it Matters, is a well-written mix of history of science and philosophy of biology. In his book, Carroll articulates a set of ecological generalisations, the Serengeti Rules, which are supposed to make salient the structures in ecosystems that ensure the persistence of those ecosystems. In this essay review, I evaluate Carroll’s use of the controversial concept of regulation and his thesis that ecosystems have (...)
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  34.  5
    Was Regression to the Mean Really the Solution to Darwin’s Problem with Heredity? [REVIEW]Adam Krashniak & Ehud Lamm - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy:1-10.
    Statistical reasoning is an integral part of modern scientific practice. In The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom Stephen Stigler presents seven core ideas, or pillars, of statistical thinking and the historical developments of each of these pillars, many of which were concurrent with developments in biology. Here we focus on Stigler’s fifth pillar, regression, and his discussion of how regression to the mean came to be thought of as a solution to a challenge for the theory of natural selection. Stigler (...)
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