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Joeri Witteveen
University of Copenhagen
  1. Naming and Contingency: The Type Method of Biological Taxonomy.Joeri Witteveen - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (4):569-586.
    Biological taxonomists rely on the so-called ‘type method’ to regulate taxonomic nomenclature. For each newfound taxon, they lay down a ‘type specimen’ that carries with it the name of the taxon it belongs to. Even if a taxon’s circumscription is unknown and/or subject to change, it remains a necessary truth that the taxon’s type specimen falls within its boundaries. Philosophers have noted some time ago that this naming practice is in line with the causal theory of reference and its central (...)
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  2.  13
    Coordination Instead of Consensus Classification: Insights From Systematics for Bio-Ontologies.Beckett Sterner, Joeri Witteveen & Nico Franz - forthcoming - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences.
    Big data is opening new angles on old questions about scientific progress. Is scientific knowledge cumulative? If yes, how does it make progress? In the life sciences, what we call the Consensus Principle has dominated the design of data discovery and integration tools: the design of a formal classificatory system for expressing a body of data should be grounded in consensus. Based on current approaches in biomedicine and systematic biology, we formulate and compare three types of the Consensus Principle: realist, (...)
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  3.  31
    Suppressing Synonymy with a Homonym: The Emergence of the Nomenclatural Type Concept in Nineteenth Century Natural History.Joeri Witteveen - 2016 - Journal of the History of Biology 49 (1):135-189.
    ‘Type’ in biology is a polysemous term. In a landmark article, Paul Farber (Journal of the History of Biology 9(1): 93–119, 1976) argued that this deceptively plain term had acquired three different meanings in early nineteenth century natural history alone. ‘Type’ was used in relation to three distinct type concepts, each of them associated with a different set of practices. Important as Farber’s analysis has been for the historiography of natural history, his account conceals an important dimension of early nineteenth (...)
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  4.  22
    Natural Selection and Contrastive Explanation.Joeri Witteveen - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (3):412-430.
    This article defends the Negative View of natural selection explanation, according to which natural selection cannot explain of any given individual why it has the traits it does. Over the years, this view has been criticized on empirical, metaphysical, and explanatory grounds. I review the debate and offer additional reasons for rejecting the empirical and metaphysical objections. The explanatory objection, which holds that the Negative View is rooted in a flawed account of contrastive explanation, initially seems plausible. However, I argue (...)
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  5.  53
    Dividing the Pleistocene Pie (Review of Nicolas Baumard: The Origins of Fairness). [REVIEW]Jonathan Birch & Joeri Witteveen - 2017 - BioScience 67 (2):180-182.
    The sense of fairness is a central aspect of human moral psychology. Intuitions about fairness lead to many widespread moral beliefs, such as the belief that the punishment should fit the crime or the belief that one deserves a fair share of what one has earned. In The Origins of Fairness, Nicolas Baumard sets out to shed light on the evolutionary origin of these intuitions. He argues that the human sense of fairness is innate and universal, and he offers an (...)
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  6.  11
    “A Temporary Oversimplification”: Mayr, Simpson, Dobzhansky, and the Origins of the Typology/Population Dichotomy.Joeri Witteveen - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 55:20-33.
    The dichotomy between ‘typological thinking’ and ‘population thinking’ features in a range of debates in contemporary and historical biology. The origins of this dichotomy are often traced to Ernst Mayr, who is said to have coined it in the 1950s as a rhetorical device that could be used to shield the Modern Synthesis from attacks by the opponents of population biology. In this two-part essay, I argue that the origins of the typology/population dichotomy are considerably more complicated and more interesting (...)
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  7.  9
    Biological Markets, Cooperation, and the Evolution of Morality.Joeri Witteveen - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axz007.
    Biological market theory has in recent years become an important part of the social evolutionist’s toolkit. This article discusses the explanatory potential and pitfalls of biological market theory in the context of big picture accounts of the evolution of human cooperation and morality. I begin by assessing an influential account that presents biological market dynamics as a key driver of the evolution of fairness norms in humans. I argue that this account is problematic for theoretical, empirical, and conceptual reasons. After (...)
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  8.  10
    “A Temporary Oversimplification”: Mayr, Simpson, Dobzhansky, and the Origins of the Typology/Population Dichotomy (Part 1 of 2).Joeri Witteveen - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 54.
    The dichotomy between ‘typological thinking’ and ‘population thinking’ features in a range of debates in contemporary and historical biology. The origins of this dichotomy are often traced to Ernst Mayr, who is said to have coined it in the 1950s as a rhetorical device that could be used to shield the Modern Synthesis from attacks by the opponents of population biology. In this two-part essay I argue that the origins of the typology/population dichotomy are considerably more complicated and more interesting (...)
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  9.  51
    Emergent Philosophy of Biology in Europe. [REVIEW]Francesca Merlin, Dan Nicholson, Christian Reiss, Aleksandra Sojic & Joeri Witteveen - 2008 - Biological Theory 3 (4):391-392.
    In recent years, Europe has become a home to a thriving philosophy of biology research community. As part of the ongoing endeavor to raise the profile of the field on the Old Continent, five research institutions from across Europe § EGenIS, IHPST, KLI, MPIWG, and SEMM - gathered together in the small italian village of Gorino Sullam (Po Delta) in september 2008 to hold the first European Graduate Meeting in the Philosophy of the Life Sciences (EGMPLS-1).
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  10.  47
    The Softening of the Modern Synthesis.Joeri Witteveen - 2011 - Acta Biotheoretica 59 (3):333-345.
    The Modern Synthesis has been receiving bad press for some time now. Back in 1983, in an article entitled “The Hardening of the Modern Synthesis” Stephen Jay Gould criticized the way the Modern Synthesis had developed since its inception in the 1930s and early 1940s (Gould 1983). Back then, those who would later become known as ‘architects’ of the synthesis were united in their call for explaining evolution at all levels in terms of causation at one level: genetics. What drove (...)
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  11.  30
    Objectivity, Historicity, Taxonomy.Joeri Witteveen - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (3):445-463.
    In Objectivity, Daston and Galison argue that scientific objectivity has a history. Objectivity emerged as a distinct nineteenth-century “epistemic virtue,” flanked in time by other epistemic virtues. The authors trace the origins of scientific objectivity by identifying changes in images from scientific atlases from different periods, but they emphasize that the same history could be narrated using different sorts of scientific objects. One could, for example, focus on the changing uses of “type specimens” in biological taxonomy. Daston :153–182, 2004) indeed (...)
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  12.  1
    Regression Explanation and Statistical Autonomy.Joeri Witteveen - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (5):1-20.
    The phenomenon of regression toward the mean is notoriously liable to be overlooked or misunderstood; regression fallacies are easy to commit. But even when regression phenomena are duly recognized, it remains perplexing how they can feature in explanations. This article develops a philosophical account of regression explanations as “statistically autonomous” explanations that cannot be deepened by adducing details about causal histories, even if the explananda as such are embedded in the causal structure of the world. That regression explanations have statistical (...)
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  13.  28
    Natural Classification.Joeri Witteveen - 2015 - Metascience 24 (2):275-278.
    Writing a book about ‘natural classification’ is not a natural thing to do these days. As the authors of The Nature of Classification point out, classification as a stand-alone topic—separated from discussions of hypothesis testing, experimentation and concept formation—was all the rage in mid-nineteenth century philosophy of science, but interest has steadily dwindled ever since. In most twentieth century philosophy of science, classification was treated either as a pre-scientific endeavor, or as a product of theory-driven science. The general attitude is (...)
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  14.  47
    Darwinism About Darwinism. [REVIEW]Joeri Witteveen - 2009 - Biological Theory 4 (2):207-213.
  15.  13
    Krishna Dronamraju. Haldane, Mayr, and Beanbag Genetics. Xi + 274 Pp., Illus., Tables, Apps., Bibl., Index. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. $34.95. [REVIEW]Joeri Witteveen - 2011 - Isis 102 (4):801-802.
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  16.  13
    Darwinism About DarwinismDarwinian Populations and Natural SelectionPeter Godfrey-Smith Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009 (224 Pp; £ 25.00 Hbk; ISBN 978-0-19-955204-7). [REVIEW]Joeri Witteveen - 2009 - Biological Theory 4 (2):207-213.
  17.  1
    Peter Godfrey-Smith, Philosophy of Biology.Joeri Witteveen - 2014 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 36 (2):296-298.
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