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Charles H. Pence
Université Catholique de Louvain
  1. Sir John F. W. Herschel and Charles Darwin: Nineteenth-Century Science and Its Methodology.Charles H. Pence - 2018 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 8 (1):108-140.
    There are a bewildering variety of claims connecting Darwin to nineteenth-century philosophy of science—including to Herschel, Whewell, Lyell, German Romanticism, Comte, and others. I argue here that Herschel’s influence on Darwin is undeniable. The form of this influence, however, is often misunderstood. Darwin was not merely taking the concept of “analogy” from Herschel, nor was he combining such an analogy with a consilience as argued for by Whewell. On the contrary, Darwin’s Origin is written in precisely the manner that one (...)
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  2. Is Genetic Drift a Force?Charles H. Pence - manuscript
    One hotly debated philosophical question in the analysis of evolutionary theory concerns whether or not evolution and the various factors which constitute it may profitably be considered as analogous to “forces” in the traditional, Newtonian sense. Several compelling arguments assert that the force picture is incoherent, due to the peculiar nature of genetic drift. I consider two of those arguments here – that drift lacks a predictable direction, and that drift is constitutive of evolutionary systems – and show that they (...)
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  3. evoText: A New Tool for Analyzing the Biological Sciences.Grant Ramsey & Charles H. Pence - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 57:83-87.
    We introduce here evoText, a new tool for automated analysis of the literature in the biological sciences. evoText contains a database of hundreds of thousands of journal articles and an array of analysis tools for generating quantitative data on the nature and history of life science, especially ecology and evolutionary biology. This article describes the features of evoText, presents a variety of examples of the kinds of analyses that evoText can run, and offers a brief tutorial describing how to use (...)
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  4. ‘‘Describing Our Whole Experience’’: The Statistical Philosophies of W. F. R. Weldon and Karl Pearson.Charles H. Pence - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (4):475-485.
    There are two motivations commonly ascribed to historical actors for taking up statistics: to reduce complicated data to a mean value (e.g., Quetelet), and to take account of diversity (e.g., Galton). Different motivations will, it is assumed, lead to different methodological decisions in the practice of the statistical sciences. Karl Pearson and W. F. R. Weldon are generally seen as following directly in Galton’s footsteps. I argue for two related theses in light of this standard interpretation, based on a reading (...)
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  5. Nietzsche’s Aesthetic Critique of Darwin.Charles H. Pence - 2011 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 33 (2):165-190.
    Despite his position as one of the first philosophers to write in the “post- Darwinian” world, the critique of Darwin by Friedrich Nietzsche is often ignored for a host of unsatisfactory reasons. I argue that Nietzsche’s critique of Darwin is important to the study of both Nietzsche’s and Darwin’s impact on philosophy. Further, I show that the central claims of Nietzsche’s critique have been broadly misunderstood. I then present a new reading of Nietzsche’s core criticism of Darwin. An important part (...)
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  6. Oyun: A New, Free Program for Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma Tournaments in the Classroom.Charles H. Pence & Lara Buchak - 2012 - Evolution Education and Outreach 5 (3):467-476.
    Evolutionary applications of game theory present one of the most pedagogically accessible varieties of genuine, contemporary theoretical biology. We present here Oyun (OY-oon, http://charlespence.net/oyun), a program designed to run iterated prisoner’s dilemma tournaments, competitions between prisoner’s dilemma strategies developed by the students themselves. Using this software, students are able to readily design and tweak their own strategies, and to see how they fare both in round-robin tournaments and in “evolutionary” tournaments, where the scores in a given “generation” directly determine contribution (...)
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  7.  51
    Buckets From an English Sea: 1832 and the Making of Charles Darwin by Louis B. Rosenblatt. [REVIEW]Charles H. Pence - 2018 - The Quarterly Review of Biology 93 (4):356.
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  8.  36
    Chance in Evolution.Grant Ramsey & Charles H. Pence (eds.) - 2016 - Chicago: University of Chicago.
    Evolutionary biology since Darwin has seen a dramatic entrenchment and elaboration of the role of chance in evolution. It is nearly impossible to discuss contemporary evolutionary theory in any depth at all without making reference to at least some concept of “chance” or “randomness.” Many processes are described as chancy, outcomes are characterized as random, and many evolutionary phenomena are thought to be best described by stochastic or probabilistic models. Chance is taken by various authors to be central to the (...)
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  9.  63
    Origins of Darwin’s Evolution: Solving the Species Puzzle Through Time and Place. [REVIEW]Charles H. Pence - 2018 - Quarterly Review of Biology 93 (2):128-129.
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  10. Military Genomic Testing: Proportionality, Expected Benefits, and the Connection Between Genotypes and Phenotypes.Charles H. Pence - 2015 - Journal of Law and the Biosciences 2 (1):85-91.
    Mehlman and Li offer a framework for approaching the bioethical issues raised by the military use of genomics that is compellingly grounded in both the contemporary civilian and military ethics of medical research, arguing that military commanders must be bound by the two principles of paternal- ism and proportionality. I agree fully. But I argue here that this is a much higher bar than we may fully realize. Just as the principle of proportionality relies upon a thorough assessment of harms (...)
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  11.  34
    The Early History of Chance in Evolution.Charles H. Pence - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 50:48-58.
    Work throughout the history and philosophy of biology frequently employs ‘chance’, ‘unpredictability’, ‘probability’, and many similar terms. One common way of understanding how these concepts were introduced in evolution focuses on two central issues: the first use of statistical methods in evolution (Galton), and the first use of the concept of “objective chance” in evolution (Wright). I argue that while this approach has merit, it fails to fully capture interesting philosophical reflections on the role of chance expounded by two of (...)
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  12.  39
    The Economy of Nature: The Structure of Evolution in Linnaeus, Darwin, and the Modern Synthesis.Charles H. Pence & Daniel G. Swaim - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (3):435-454.
    We argue that the economy of nature constitutes an invocation of structure in the biological sciences, one largely missed by philosophers of biology despite the turn in recent years toward structural explanations throughout the philosophy of science. We trace a portion of the history of this concept, beginning with the theologically and economically grounded work of Linnaeus, moving through Darwin’s adaptation of the economy of nature and its reconstitution in genetic terms during the first decades of the Modern Synthesis. What (...)
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  13.  28
    Is Organismic Fitness at the Basis of Evolutionary Theory?Charles H. Pence & Grant Ramsey - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (5):1081-1091.
    Fitness is a central theoretical concept in evolutionary theory. Despite its importance, much debate has occurred over how to conceptualize and formalize fitness. One point of debate concerns the roles of organismic and trait fitness. In a recent addition to this debate, Elliott Sober argues that trait fitness is the central fitness concept, and that organismic fitness is of little value. In this paper, by contrast, we argue that it is organismic fitness that lies at the bases of both the (...)
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  14.  44
    Elliott Sober, Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards? Philosophical Essays on Darwin’s Theory. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 230 Pp., $21.00. [REVIEW]Charles H. Pence, Hope Hollocher, Ryan Nichols, Grant Ramsey, Edwin Siu & Daniel John Sportiello - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (4):705-709.
  15.  45
    On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. [REVIEW]Hope Hollocher, Agustin Fuentes, Charles H. Pence, Grant Ramsey, Daniel John Sportiello & Michelle M. Wirth - 2011 - Quarterly Review of Biology 86 (2):137-138.
  16.  12
    Robert J. Richards and Michael Ruse. Debating Darwin. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. Pp. Xvi+267. $30.00 ; $18.00. [REVIEW]Charles H. Pence - 2017 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 7 (2):397-400.
  17.  20
    The Conflation of "Chance" in Evolution.Charles H. Pence - manuscript
    Discussions of “chance” and related concepts are found throughout philosophical work on evolutionary theory. By drawing attention to three very commonly-recognized distinctions, I separate four independent concepts falling under the broad heading of “chance”: randomness, epistemic unpredictability, causal indeterminism, and probabilistic causal processes. Far from a merely semantic distinction, however, it is demonstrated that conflation of these obviously distinct notions has an important bearing on debates at the core of evolutionary theory, particularly the debate over the interpretation of fitness, natural (...)
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  18.  17
    Staffan Müller-Wille and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger. A Cultural History of Heredity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. Pp. Xiii+218. $45.00. [REVIEW]Charles H. Pence - 2013 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 3 (1):168-172.
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    Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection. [REVIEW]Grant Ramsey, Hope Hollocher, Agustin Fuentes, Charles H. Pence & Edwin Siu - 2010 - Quarterly Review of Biology 85 (4):499-500.
  20.  12
    The Many Chances of Charles Darwin. [REVIEW]Charles H. Pence - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 53:107-110.
    An essay review of Johnson's Darwin's Dice, examining Darwin's use of chance throughout his corpus.
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