Understanding life: Recent work in philosophy of biology

Kim Sterelny
Australian National University
This paper surveys recent philosophy of biology. It aims to introduce outsiders to the field to the recent literature (which is reviewed in the footnotes) and the main recent debates. I concentrate on three of these: recent critiques of the replicator/vehicle distinction and its application to the idea of the gene as the unit of section; the recent defences of group selection and the idea that standard alternatives to group selection are in fact no more than a disguised form of group selection; and recent ideas on the role of selection in evolution, especially the role of selection in structuring the large-scale history of life. The paper connects philosophy of biology to some more general problems in the philosophy of science, and concludes with a few suggestions about unfinished business.
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/46.2.155
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The Evolutionary Structure of Scientific Theories.John S. Wilkins - 1998 - Biology and Philosophy 13 (4):479–504.
Shifting Values Partly Explain the Debate Over Group Selection.Ayelet Shavit - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 35 (4):697-720.
What Philosophy of Biology Should Be.Thomas Pradeu - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (1):119-127.
Fastidious, Foundational Heresies.Jason Scott Robert - 2000 - Biology and Philosophy 15 (1):133-145.

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