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Aja Watkins
Boston University
  1.  32
    Pathogen Versus Microbiome Causation in the Holobiont.Aja Watkins & Federica Bocchi - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (1):1-6.
    In their paper “How Causal are Microbiomes? A Comparison with the Helicobacter pylori Explanation of Ulcers,” Lynch, Parke, and O’Malley successfully argue that certain causal attributions made to the microbiome have not satisfied Koch’s postulates nor the interventionist framework. However, their argument involves an implicit assumption that cases such as H. pylori are sufficiently similar to cases involving the microbiome, such that causal attributions to both should be evaluated according to the same causal framework. Our commentary targets this assumption. First, (...)
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    What is Paradoxical About ‘Fermi’s Paradox’?: Review of Milan Ćirković: The Great Silence, Oxford University Press, 2018.Cansu Hepçağlayan, Aja Watkins & Russell Powell - 2020 - Acta Biotheoretica 68 (4):469-477.
    In this review of Milan Ćirković’s The Great Silence: Science and Philosophy of Fermi’s Paradox, we attempt to reconstruct the logic of Fermi’s paradox as understood by the author, and we critically examine the reasoning that leads to the paradox. We show that there is no plausible solution to Fermi’s paradox that can satisfy all of Ćirković’s proposed desiderata, which in turn suggests that the author’s standards for hypothesis adjudication need to be revised.
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    Development and Microbiology.Aja Watkins - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (4):1-30.
    On the basis of findings from developmental biology, some researchers have argued that evolutionary theory needs to be significantly updated. Advocates of such a “developmental update” have, among other things, suggested that we need to re-conceptualize units of selection, that we should expand our view of inheritance to include environmental as well as genetic and epigenetic factors, that we should think of organisms and their environment as involved in reciprocal causation, and that we should reevaluate the rates of evolutionary change. (...)
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    Reevaluating the Grandmother Hypothesis.Aja Watkins - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (3):1-29.
    Menopause is an evolutionary mystery: how could living longer with no capacity to reproduce possibly be advantageous? Several explanations have been offered for why female humans, unlike our closest primate relatives, have such an extensive post-reproductive lifespan. Proponents of the so-called “grandmother hypothesis” suggest that older women are able to increase their fitness by helping to care for their grandchildren as allomothers. This paper first distinguishes the grandmother hypothesis from several other hypotheses that attempt to explain menopause, and then develops (...)
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    The Epistemic Value of the Living Fossils Concept.Aja Watkins - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (5):1221-1233.
    Living fossils, taxa with similar members now and in the deep past, have recently come under scrutiny. Those who think the concept should be retained have argued for its epistemic and normative utility. This article extends the epistemic utility of the living fossils concept to include ways in which a taxon’s living fossil status can serve as evidence for other claims about that taxon. I will use insights from developmental biology to refine these claims. Insofar as these considerations demonstrate the (...)
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    Testing for Phenotypic Plasticity.Aja Watkins - 2021 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 13:1-23.
    Phenotypic plasticity, or an organism’s capacity to change its phenotype in response to environmental variation, is a pervasive—perhaps even ubiquitous—feature of the biological world. Accordingly, plasticity research suggests serious implications for biological theory, including evolutionary theory. The theoretical implications of plasticity have growing support from empirical literature documenting the range, extent, and adaptiveness of plasticity. However, the empirical evidence for particular instances of plasticity has still not been adequately scrutinized by biologists or philosophers. After reviewing some important conceptual and theoretical (...)
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