Philosophy of biology is a vibrant and growing field. From initial roots in the metaphysics of species (Ghiselin, Hull), questions about whether biology has laws of nature akin to those of physics (Ruse, Hull), and discussions of teleology and function (Grene 1974, Brandon 1981), the field has grown since the 1970s to include a vast range of topics. Over the last few decades, philosophy has had an important impact on biology, partly through following the model of engagement with science that (...) was set by first-wave philosophers of biology like Marjorie Grene, Morton Beckner, David Hull, William Wimsatt and others. Today some parts of philosophy of biology are indistinguishable from theoretical biology. This is due in part to the impetus provided by second-wave philosophers of biology like James Griesemer, John Beatty, William Bechtel, Robert Brandon, Elisabeth Lloyd, and Elliott Sober. Indeed, philosophers have been instrumental in establishing theoretical biology as a field by collaborating with scientists, publishing in science journals, and by taking up conceptual questions at the heart of the biological enterprise. (shrink)
1. A Historical Look at Unity 2. Field Guide to Modern Concepts of Reduction and Unity 3. Kitcher's Revisionist Account of Unification 4. Critics of Unity 5. Integration Instead of Unity 6. Reduction via Mechanisms 7. Case Studies in Reduction and Unification across the Disciplines.
This article serves as an introduction to the laws-of-biology debate. After introducing the main issues in an introductory section, arguments for and against laws of biology are canvassed in Section 2. In Section 3, the debate is placed in wider epistemological context by engaging a group of scholars who have shifted the focus away from the question of whether there are laws of biology and toward offering good accounts of explanation(s) in the biological sciences. Section 4 introduces two relatively new (...) pieces of science – metabolic scaling theory and ecological stoichiometry – that have not been topics of much discussion by philosophers but are relevant because they have at least some of the hallmarks of laws of nature. Section 5 concludes by pointing out that discovering laws of biology, if any there be, will not necessarily answer the questions raised by the debate in the first place: we will still want to know how biology compares to other sciences, how to characterize its systems and processes, and whether accounts in terms of laws always or usually constitute adequate explanations in various sciences. (shrink)
In The Blue Book, Wittgenstein defined a category of uses of “I” which he termed “I”-as-subject, contrasting them with “I”-as-object uses. The hallmark of this category is immunity to error through misidentification (IEM). This article extends Wittgenstein’s characterisation to the case of memory-judgments, discusses the significance of IEM for self-consciousness—developing the idea that having a first-person thought involves thinking about oneself in a distinctive way in which one cannot think of anyone or anything else—and refutes a common objection to the (...) claim that memory-judgments exhibit IEM. (shrink)
The pervasive dispositional model of belief is misguided. It fails to acknowledge the authority of first‐person ascriptions or avowals of belief, and the “decision principle”– that having decided the question whether p, there is, for me, no further question whether I believe that p. The dilemma is how one can have immediate knowledge of a state extended in time; its resolution lies in the expressive character of avowals – which does not imply a non‐assertoric thesis – and their non‐cognitive status. (...) The common claim that there are higher‐order beliefs concerning ones present beliefs is rejected as unintelligible. The decision principle is defended against claims of “unconscious belief”; there is no interesting such category, since all beliefs are liable at some time to be considered, but mostly to be out of mind. Belief is not constituted by a disposition, but is connected with dispositions – it is an “attitude concept”. (shrink)
Groups, individuals, and evolutionary restraints : the making of the contemporary debate over group selection Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-14 DOI 10.1007/s10539-011-9255-5 Authors Andrew Hamilton, Center for Biology and Society, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-4501 USA Christopher C. Dimond, Center for Biology and Society, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-4501 USA Journal Biology and Philosophy Online ISSN 1572-8404 Print ISSN 0169-3867.
Exploring whether clades can reproduce leads to new perspectives on general accounts of biological development and individuation. Here we apply James Griesemer's general account of reproduction to clades. Griesemer's account of reproduction includes a requirement for development, raising the question of whether clades may bemeaningfully said to develop. We offer two illustrative examples of what clade development might look like, though evaluating these examples proves difficult due to the paucity of general accounts of development. This difficulty, however, is instructive about (...) what a general account of development should look like and how it may usefully be applied to research problems (further suggesting a means for evaluating general accounts of development). Reproduction also requires individuation of parent and offspring. We argue that there is no special problem of individuating older and younger clades. The vagaries involved with determining when clades begin, mature, and end are precisely the same as those that arise when the same questions are asked of cells, organisms, or species. Though the question of clade reproduction and selection may still be open, the process of discovery presents new insights into old problems. (shrink)
Recording has transformed the nature of music as an art by reconfiguring the opposition between the aesthetics of perfection and imperfection. A precursor article, ‘The Art of Improvisation and the Aesthetics of Imperfection’, contrasted the perfectionist aesthetic of the ‘work-concept’ with the imperfectionist aesthetic of improvisation. Imperfectionist approaches to recording are purist in wanting to maintain the diachronic and synchronic integrity of the performance, which perfectionist recording creatively subverts through mixing and editing. But a purist transparency thesis cannot evade the (...) fact that the recorded image is crafted; against creative editing, however, the imperfectionist ideal of the ‘complete take’ is humanistic and anti-mechanistic, and not mere Romantic illusion. The article concludes with a discussion of the question of the artistic status of recording, and contrasts the possibility of a non-acousmatic sound art with the essentially acousmatic art of music. (shrink)
Reid rejects the image theory --the representative or indirect realist position--that memory-judgements are inferred from or otherwise justified by a present image or introspectible state. He also rejects the trace theory , which regards memories as essentially traces in the brain. In contrast he argues for a direct knowledge account in which personal memory yields unmediated knowledge of the past. He asserts the reliability of memory, not in currently fashionable terms as a reliable belief-forming process, but more elusively as a (...) principle of Commonsense. There remains a contemporary consensus against Reid's position. I argue that Reid's critique is essentially sound, and that the consensus is mistaken; personal memory judgements are spontaneous and non-inferential in the same way as perceptual judgements. But I question Reid's account of the connection between personal memory and personal identity. My primary concern is rationally reconstructive rather than scholarly, and downplays recent interpretations of Reid's faculty psychology as a precursor of functionalism and other scientific philosophies of mind. (shrink)
Scruton is a self-confessed elitist for whom culture is ‘the creation and creator of elites’, though its meaning ‘lies in emotions and aspirations that are common to all’. This article argues that one can uphold his humane conception of the value of high culture without endorsing elitism. It develops a surprisingly unelitist strand in Scruton's thinking into a meritocratic middle way between elitism and populism, in order to explain why art is in some sense an elite product, but with communal (...) resonance. This aim is furthered by interpreting high culture in terms of the less elitist concept of the classic. (shrink)
The world is an untidy place, and the sciences—all of them—reflect this. One source of this untidiness is the relationship between levels of organization. Reducing macrolevels to microlevels—explaining the former in terms of the latter—has met with successes but has never been the whole story. In the biological sciences, there has been much attention lately to the shortcomings of reductionism on the grounds that (i) it changes the subject rather than explaining, (ii) it leads to a myopically molecular view of (...) the biological world, and (iii) the behavior or behaviors of complex systems are often very poorly predicted based solely on their microproperties. It is just for these reasons that biologists of many stripes have called for a move away from reductionism and toward a new kind of biology for the 21st century. But what shape might this new biology take? (shrink)
The history of science often has difficulty connecting with science at the lab-bench level, raising questions about the value of history of science for science. This essay offers a case study from taxonomy in which lessons learned about particular failings of numerical taxonomy in the second half of the twentieth century bear on the new movement toward DNA barcoding. In particular, it argues that an unwillingness to deal with messy theoretical questions in both cases leads to important problems in the (...) theory and practice of identifying taxa. This argument makes use of scientific and historical considerations in a way that the authors hope leads to convincing conclusions about the history of taxonomy as well as about its present practice. (shrink)
Samir Okasha argues that clade selection is an incoherent concept, because the relation that constitutes clades is such that it renders parent-offspring (reproduction) relations between clades impossible. He reasons that since clades cannot reproduce, it is not coherent to speak of natural selection operating at the clade level. We argue, however, that when species-level lineages and clade-level lineages are treated consistently according to standard cladist commitments, clade reproduction is indeed possible and clade selection is coherent if certain conditions obtain. Despite (...) clade selection’s logical coherence, however, we share some of Okasha’s pessimism. Whether or not clades are a unit of selection is ultimately a question of empirical support and theoretical import, but we offer reasons to be skeptical about clade selection as a research programme. (shrink)
The visual arts include painting, sculpture, photography, video, and film. But many people would argue that music is the universal or only art of sound. In the modernist era, Western art music has incorporated unpitched sounds or ‘noise’, and I pursue the question of whether this process allows space for a non-musical soundart. Are there non-musical arts of sound—is there an art phonography, for instance, to parallel art photography? At the same time, I attempt a characterization of music, contrasting acoustic, (...) aesthetic, and acousmatic accounts. My view is that there is some truth in all of these. I defend the claim that music is an art with a small ‘a’—a practice involving skill or craft whose ends are essentially aesthetic, that especially rewards aesthetic attention—whose material is sounds exhibiting tonal organization. But acoustic and acousmatic accounts help to distinguish between music and non-musical soundart, since music must have a preponderance of tones for its material. (shrink)
Ferruccio Busoni's Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music appeared in 1910. Schoenberg, in his copy of the little book, wrote critical marginal comments which crystallize two opposed outlooks in musical aesthetics. Busoni writes: Notation, the writing out of compositions, is primarily an ingenious expedient for catching an inspiration, with the purpose of exploiting it later. But notation is to improvisation as the portrait is to the living model… …What the composer's inspiration necessarily loses through notation, his interpreter should restore (...) by his own…. (shrink)
This article develops a dynamic account of rhythm as ‘order-in-movement’ that opposes static accounts of rhythm as abstract time, as essentially a pattern of possibly unstressed sounds and silences. This dynamic account is humanistic: it focuses on music as a humanly-produced, sonorous phenomenon, privileging the human as opposed to the abstract, or the organic or mechanical. It defends the claim that movement is the most fundamental conceptualization of music—the basic category in terms of which it is experienced—and suggests, against Scruton, (...) that music literally and not merely metaphorically moves. (shrink)