This book explores how and when biology emerged as a science in Germany. Beginning with the debate about organism between Georg Ernst Stahl and Gottfried Leibniz at the start of the eighteenth century, John Zammito traces the development of a new research program, culminating in 1800, in the formulation of developmental morphology. He shows how over the course of the century, naturalists undertook to transform some domains of natural history into a distinct branch of natural philosophy, which attempted (...) not only to describe but to explain the natural world and became, ultimately, the science of biology. (shrink)
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 Science of the USA, focusing on the recent period 2003–2015. This comparison reveals a significant mismatch between the distributions of these topics. I examine plausible explanations for that mismatch. Finally, I argue that many biological topics underrepresented in philosophy of biology raise important philosophical issues and should therefore play a more central role in future philosophy of biology. (shrink)
Philosophy can shed light on mathematical modeling and the juxtaposition of modeling and empirical data. This paper explores three philosophical traditions of the structure of scientific theory—Syntactic, Semantic, and Pragmatic—to show that each illuminates mathematical modeling. The Pragmatic View identifies four critical functions of mathematical modeling: (1) unification of both models and data, (2) model fitting to data, (3) mechanism identification accounting for observation, and (4) prediction of future observations. Such facets are explored using a recent exchange between two (...) groups of mathematical modelers in plant biology. Scientific debate can arise from different modeling philosophies. (shrink)
This short and highly accessible volume opens up the subject of the philosophy of biology to professionals and to students in both disciplines. The text covers briefly and clearly all of the pertinent topics in the subject, dealing with both human and non-human issues, and quite uniquely surveying not only scholars in the English-speaking world but others elsewhere, including the Eastern block. As molecular biologists peer ever more deeply into life’s mysteries, there are those who fear that such (...) ‘reductionism’ conceals more than it reveals, and there are those who complain that the new techniques threaten the physical safety of us all. As students of evolution apply their new-found understanding to our own species, some people think that this is merely an excuse for racist and sexist propaganda, and others worry that the whole exercise blatantly violates the religious beliefs many of us hold dear. These controversies are the joint concern of biologists and philosophers—of those whose task it is to study the theoretical and moral foundations of knowledge. The comprehensive and fully up-to-date bibliography makes this an invaluable and indispensable guide. (shrink)
Biologists study life in its various physical forms, while philosophers of biology seek answers to questions about the nature, purpose, and impact of this research. What permits us to distinguish between living and nonliving things even though both are made of the same minerals? Is the complex structure of organisms proof that a creative force is working its will in the physical universe, or are existing life-forms the random result of an evolutionary process working itself out over eons of (...) time? What moral and social questions arise regarding modern advances in biotechnology? What is more relevant to human nature: genetics or sociocultural influences? Is Darwinism the death-knell of God? These are just some of the vital questions addressed by a distinguished group of philosophers and scientists which includes: Aristotle, Francisco J. Ayala, , Michael Benton, Tom Bethell, Joe Cain, David Castle, Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins, Michael Denton, A.G.N. Flew, Stephen Jay Gould, J.B.S. Haldane, John F. Haught, D. W. E. Hone, James W. Kirchner, James Lovelock, Jane Maienschein, Ernst Mayr, Gregory M. Mikkelson, Leslie Orgal, William Paley, the Prince of Wales, Christopher Pynes, Richard A. Richards, Mark Ridley, Holmes Rolston III, Michael Ruse, Lee Silver, Elliott Sober, Kim Sterelny, Derek Turner, and Edward O. Wilson. This second edition contains material on design without selection, testing macroevolutionary claims, recent biotechnological issues, key ecological concerns, the Gaia hypothesis, genetically modified foods, and the so-called intelligent design movement. (shrink)
Perhaps because of it implications for our understanding of human nature, recent philosophy of biology has seen what might be the most dramatic work in the philosophies of the ”special” sciences. This drama has centered on evolutionary theory, and in the second edition of this textbook, Elliott Sober introduces the reader to the most important issues of these developments. With a rare combination of technical sophistication and clarity of expression, Sober engages both the higher level of theory and (...) the direct implications for such controversial issues as creationism, teleology, nature versus nurture, and sociobiology. Above all, the reader will gain from this book a firm grasp of the structure of evolutionary theory, the evidence for it, and the scope of its explanatory significance. (shrink)
Overmedication is nowadays a serious problem in health care due to influences from the pharmaceutical industry and agencies responsible for regulation. The situation has indeed become appalling in psychiatry, where both theories and treatments have deteriorated under the impact of the industry. The overmedication problem is associated with biased biology in medicine. Adequate biological approaches would indicate that drug therapies must yield to diet therapies, particularly treatments involving omega-3 fatty acids, in many cases. To the extent that philosophy (...) of science adapts to mainstream medicine in analyses of the current situation, it may reinforce the existing bias. To redress imbalances in health care, we ultimately have to rely on common sense. (shrink)
Drawing on work of the past decade, this volume brings together articles from the philosophy, history, and sociology of science, and many other branches of the biological sciences. The volume delves into the latest theoretical controversies as well as burning questions of contemporary social importance. The issues considered include the nature of evolutionary theory, biology and ethics, the challenge from religion, and the social implications of biology today (in particular the Human Genome Project).
The aim of this paper is to make a comparison and build up a dialogue between two different philosophical approaches to values in evolutionary biology. First, I present the approach proposed by Alexander Rosenberg and Daniel McShea in their contribution to the contemporary debate on organic progress. i.e. the idea that there has been some kind of improvement concerning organisms over the history of life. Discussing organic progress raises the question of what “better” exactly means. This requires an explicit (...) clarification on what legitimately means to speak about “good” in evolutionary biology, thus to speak about values. Second, I move on to present an approach to values that has been proposed by Georges Canguilhem in the context of a different philosophical tradition. Canguilhem’s original theses are conceived in a Darwinian framework and clearly relate to the question of values in evolutionary biology. I shall then propose a comparison between these two heterogeneous perspectives on values by critically evaluating their common points and main differences. I will argue that both perspectives agree that the question of values in evolutionary biology takes on its full meaning with respect to the relationship between the organism and the environment. However, the framework for conceptualizing values in evolutionary biology provided by Rosenberg and McShea neglects a significant point highlighted by Canguilhem, i.e. the active role that the organism can play in evaluating the environment. In line with recent developments of biology, this point can be easily integrated into Rosenberg and McShea’s framework. Finally, I will point out some main differences between the two perspectives relative to the specificity of Canguilhem’s biological philosophy. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to highlight and discuss two problems of the biological philosophy of technology. In particular, I will analyse the work of André Leroi-Gourhan and Gilbert Simondon, and I will show that the meaning of the analogy between technical and natural objects that underlies the approach of the biological philosophy of technology remains problematic and the biological approach to technology is very effective for analysing tools and machines, but is not sufficient to describe the (...) so-called information technologies. In the last part of the article, I will argue that, in order to understand information technologies, it is necessary to integrate the biological approach to technology with a grammatological approach. I will try to show that, next to the tool and the machine, there is a third category of technical objects that can be better described using the notion of “writing” proposed by one of the masters of the so-called French Thought, Jacques Derrida. (shrink)
Philosophy of Experimental Biology explores some central philosophical issues concerning scientific research in experimental biology, including genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, developmental biology, neurobiology, and microbiology. It seeks to make sense of the explanatory strategies, concepts, ways of reasoning, approaches to discovery and problem solving, tools, models and experimental systems deployed by scientific life science researchers and also integrates developments in historical scholarship, in particular the New Experimentalism. It concludes that historical explanations of scientific change that (...) are based on local laboratory practice need to be supplemented with an account of the epistemic norms and standards that are operative in science. This book should be of interest to philosophers and historians of science as well as to scientists. (shrink)
Biology in the Critical Philosophy and the Opus postumum Hein van den Berg. Parts of Chap. 2 have been previously published in Hein van den Berg (2011), “ Kant's Conception of Proper Science.” Synthese 183 (1): 7–26. Parts of Chap.
This essay discusses four key criticisms recently leveled against the main attempts to use conceptual analysis to understand health and disease. First, it examines the weaknesses of these attempts and suggests a better way to proceed. Next, it briefly discusses another disease debate concerning pathological mechanisms and suggests that this approach could be more fruitful than that of conceptual analysis. The final section demonstrates how Georges Canguilhem's biological philosophy of disease avoids some of the problems associated with conceptual analysis, (...) and how he can contribute to both debates. Canguilhem's appeal to biological normativity is understood as contributing to a theoretical explanation, and a possible naturalization, of what is specific to healthy and pathological phenomena. (shrink)
How Biology Shapes Philosophy is a seminal contribution to the emerging field of biophilosophy. It brings together work by philosophers who draw on biology to address traditional and not so traditional philosophical questions and concerns. Thirteen essays by leading figures in the field explore the biological dimensions of ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, gender, semantics, rationality, representation, and consciousness, as well as the misappropriation of biology by philosophers, allowing the reader to critically interrogate the relevance of biology (...) for philosophy. Both rigorous and accessible, the essays illuminate philosophy and help us to acquire a deeper understanding of the human condition. This volume will be of interest to philosophers, biologists, social scientists, and other readers with an interest in bringing science and the humanities together. (shrink)
Philosophers have committed sins while studying science, it is said – philosophy of science focused on physics to the detriment of biology, reconstructed idealizations of scientific episodes rather than attending to historical details, and focused on theories and concepts to the detriment of experiments. Recent generations of philosophers of science have tried to atone for these sins, and by the 1980s the exculpation was in full swing. Marcel Weber’s Philosophy of Experimental Biology is a zenith mea (...) culpa for philosophy of science: it carefully describes several historical examples from twentieth century biology to address both ‘old’ philosophical topics, like reductionism, inference, and realism, and ‘new’ topics, like discovery, models, and norms. Biology, experiments, history – at last, philosophy of science, free of sin. (shrink)
Is life a purely physical process? What is human nature? Which of our traits is essential to us? In this volume, Daniel McShea and Alex Rosenberg – a biologist and a philosopher, respectively – join forces to create a new gateway to the philosophy of biology; making the major issues accessible and relevant to biologists and philosophers alike. Exploring concepts such as supervenience; the controversies about genocentrism and genetic determinism; and the debate about major transitions central to contemporary (...) thinking about macroevolution; the authors lay out the broad terms in which we should assess the impact of biology on human capacities, social institutions and ethical values. (shrink)
EM Music Education /EM is a collection of thematically organized essays that present an historical background of the picture of education first in Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, then Early-Modern Europe. The bulk of the book focuses on American education up to the present. This third edition includes readings by Orff, Kodály, Sinichi Suzuki, William Channing Woodbridge, Allan Britton, and Charles Leonhard. In addition, essays include timely topics on feminism, diversity, cognitive psych, testing (the Praxis exam) and the No (...) Child Left Behind Act. (shrink)
• "Conditions for Evolution by Natural Selection " (2007) . Evolution by natural selection is usually said to require three ingredients: variation, heredity, and fitness differences. But things are not so simple. Here I discuss various problem cases and their consequences.
Is life different from the non-living? If so, how? And how, in that case, does biology as the study of living things differ from other sciences? These questions are traced through an exploration of episodes in the history of biology and philosophy. The book begins with Aristotle, then moves on to Descartes, comparing his position with that of Harvey. In the eighteenth century the authors consider Buffon and Kant. In the nineteenth century the authors examine the Cuvier-Geoffroy (...) debate, pre-Darwinian geology and natural theology, Darwin and the transition from Darwin to the revival of Mendelism. Two chapters deal with the evolutionary synthesis and such questions as the species problem, the reducibility or otherwise of biology to physics and chemistry, and the problem of biological explanation in terms of function and teleology. The final chapters reflect on the implications of the philosophy of biology for philosophy of science in general. (shrink)
This major new series in the philosophy of science aims to provide a new generation of textbooks for the subject. The series will not only offer fresh treatments of core topics in the theory and methodology of scientific knowledge, but also introductions to newer areas of the discipline. Furthermore, the series will cover topics in current science that raise significant foundational issues both for scientific theory and for philosophy more generally. Biology raises distinct questions of its own (...) not only for philosophy of science, but for metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. This comprehensive new textbook for a rapidly growing field of study provides students new to the subject with an up-to-date presentation of the key philosophical issues. Care is taken throughout to keep the technicalities accessible to the non-biologist but without sacrificing the philosophical subtleties. The first part of the book covers the philosophical challenges posed by evolution and evolutionary biology, beginning with Darwin's central argument in the Origin of the Species. Individual chapters cover natural selection, the selfish gene, alternative units of selection, developmental systems theory, adaptionism and issues in macroevolution. The second part of the book examines philosophical questions arising in connection with biological traits, function, nature and nurture, and biological kinds. The third part of the book examines metaphysical questions, biology's relation with the traditional concerns of philosophy of science, and how evolution has been introduced into epistemological debates. The final part considers the relevance of biology to questions about ethics, religion and human nature. (shrink)
This paper describes the semiotic approach to organism in two proto-biosemiotic thinkers, Susanne K. Langer and Hans Jonas. Both authors develop ideas that have become central terms of biosemiotics: the organism as subject, the realisation of the living as a closed circular self, the value concept, and, in the case of Langer, the concept of symbol. Langer tries to develop a theory of cultural symbolism based on a theory of organism as a self-realising entity creating meaning and value. This paper (...) deals mainly with what both authors independently call “feeling”. Both authors describe “feeling” as a value-based perspective, established as a result of the active self interest manifested by an organic system. The findings of Jonas and Langer show the generation of a subject pole, or biosemiotic agent, under a more precise accent, as e.g. Uexküll does. Their ideas can also be affiliated to the interpretation of autopoiesis given by the late Francisco Varela (embodied cognition or “enactivism”). A synthesis of these positions might lead to insights how symbolic expression arises from biological conditions of living. (shrink)
Elliott Sober is one of the leading philosophers of science and is a former winner of the Lakatos Prize, the major award in the field. This new collection of essays will appeal to a readership that extends well beyond the frontiers of the philosophy of science. Sober shows how ideas in evolutionary biology bear in significant ways on traditional problems in philosophy of mind and language, epistemology, and metaphysics. Amongst the topics addressed are psychological egoism, solipsism, and (...) the interpretation of belief and utterance, empiricism, Ockham's razor, causality, essentialism, and scientific laws. The collection will prove invaluable to a wide range of philosophers, primarily those working in the philosophy of science, the philosophy of mind, and epistemology. (shrink)
In addition to being one of the world's most influential philosophers, Aristotle can also be credited with the creation of both the science of biology and the philosophy of biology. He was the first thinker to treat the investigations of the living world as a distinct inquiry with its own special concepts and principles. This book focuses on a seminal event in the history of biology - Aristotle's delineation of a special branch of theoretical knowledge devoted (...) to the systematic investigation of animals. Aristotle approached the creation of zoology with the tools of subtle and systematic philosophies of nature and of science that were then carefully tailored to the investigation of animals. The papers collected in this volume, written by a pre-eminent figure in the field of Aristotle's philosophy and biology, examine Aristotle's approach to biological inquiry and explanation, his concepts of matter, form and kind, and his teleology. (shrink)
Covering some of science's most divisive topics, such as philosophical issues in genetics and evolution, the philosophy of biology also encompasses more traditional philosophical questions, such as free will, essentialism, and nature vs nurture. Here, Samir Okasha outlines the core issues with which contemporary philosophy of biology is engaged.
This book presents analyses of philosophical topics of importance to biology education. It is intended foremost for biology educators and teachers, and aims to show how philosophy of science in general, and philosophy of biology in particular, ...
_Bringing Biology to Life _is a guided tour of the philosophy of biology, canvassing three broad areas: the early history of biology, from Aristotle to Darwin; traditional debates regarding species, function, and units of selection; and recent efforts to better understand the human condition in light of evolutionary biology. Topics are addressed using no more technical jargon than necessary, and without presupposing any advanced knowledge of biology or the philosophy of science on the (...) part of the reader. Discussion questions are also provided to encourage reader reflection. (shrink)
What role can philosophy play in a world dominated by neoliberalism and globalization? Must it join universalist ideologies as it has in past centuries? Or might it turn to ethnophilosophy and postmodern fragmentation? Universalist cosmopolitanism and egocentric culturalism are not the only alternatives.
This paper describes the semiotic approach to organism in two proto-biosemiotic thinkers, Susanne K. Langer and Hans Jonas. Both authors develop ideas that have become central terms of biosemiotics: the organism as subject, the realisation of the living as a closed circular self, the value concept, and, in the case of Langer, the concept of symbol. Langer tries to develop a theory of cultural symbolism based on a theory of organism as a self-realising entity creating meaning and value. This paper (...) deals mainly with what both authors independently call “feeling”. Both authors describe “feeling” as a value-based perspective, established as a result of the active self interest manifested by an organic system. The findings of Jonas and Langer show the generation of a subject pole, or biosemiotic agent, under a more precise accent, as e.g. Uexküll does. Their ideas can also be affiliated to the interpretation of autopoiesis given by the late Francisco Varela . A synthesis of these positions might lead to insights how symbolic expression arises from biological conditions of living. (shrink)
The Royal Institute of Philosophy’s London lecture series for 2004–2005 offers a useful snapshot of the current state of philosophy of biology in Britain. With one or two exceptions the papers are not simply current research articles. The authors map out questions they feel need more research, analyse ongoing debates, or outline the program of their own previously published work. This presumably reflects the fact that the papers are based closely on public lectures. It also makes for (...) surprisingly easy and enjoyable reading in the context of such a volume. (shrink)
Philosophy of biology before biology -/- Edited by Cécilia Bognon-Küss & Charles T. Wolfe -/- Table of contents -/- Cécilia Bognon-Küss & Charles T. Wolfe. Introduction -/- 1. Cécilia Bognon-Küss & Charles T. Wolfe. The idea of “philosophy of biology before biology”: a methodological provocation -/- Part I. FORM AND DEVELOPMENT -/- 2. Stéphane Schmitt. Buffon’s theories of generation and the changing dialectics of molds and molecules 3. Phillip Sloan. Metaphysics and “Vital” Materialism: The (...) Gabrielle Du Châtelet Circle and French Vitalism 4. John Zammito. The Philosophical Reception of C. F. Wolff’s Epigenesis in Germany, 1770-1790: Herder, Tetens and Kant -/- Part II. ORGANISM & ORGANIZATION 5. François Duchesneau. Senebier and the Advent of General Physiology 6. Tobias Cheung. Organization and Process. Living Systems Between Inner and Outer Worlds: Cuvier, Hufeland, Cabanis. -/- Part III. SYSTEMS 7. Georg Toepfer. Philosophy of Ecology Long Before Ecology: Kant’s Idea of an Organized System of Organized Beings 8. Ina Goy. "All is leaf". Goethe's plant philosophy and poetry 9. Snait Gissis. ‘Biology’, Lamarck, Lamarckisms -/- POSTSCRIPTS 1. Lynn Nyhart. A Historical Proposal Around Prepositions -/- 2. Philippe Huneman. Philosophy after Philosophy of Biology before Biology -/- Cécilia Bognon-Küss and Charles T. Wolfe. Conclusion . (shrink)
This book is a collection of papers which reflect the recent trends in the philosophy and history of molecular biology. It brings together historians, philosophers, and molecular biologists who reflect on the discipline's emergence in the 1950's, its explosive growth, and the directions in which it is going. Questions addressed include: (i) what are the limits of molecular biology? (ii) What is the relation of molecular biology to older subdisciplines of biology, especially biochemistry? (iii) Are (...) there theories in molecular biology? (iv) If so, how are these theories structured? (v) What role did information theory play in the rise of molecular biology? The book will open the way for many future researchers. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to clarify the meaning of a naturalistic position within philosophy of biology, against the background of an alternative view, founded on the basic insights of transcendental philosophy. It is argued that the apparently minimal and neutral constraints naturalism imposes on philosophy of science turn out to involve a quite heavily constraining metaphysics, due to the naturalism’s fundamental neglect of its own perspective. Because of its intrinsic sensitivity to perspectivity and historicity, (...) transcendental philosophy can avoid this type of hidden metaphysics. (shrink)
A consensus exists among contemporary philosophers of biology about the history of their field. According to the received view, mainstream philosophy of science in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s focused on physics and general epistemology, neglecting analyses of the 'special sciences', including biology. The subdiscipline of philosophy of biology emerged (and could only have emerged) after the decline of logical positivism in the 1960s and 70s. In this article, I present bibliometric data from four major (...)philosophy of science journals (Erkenntnis, Philosophy of Science, Synthese, and the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science), covering 1930-59, which challenge this view. (shrink)