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Profile: John Matthewson (Massey University, University of Sydney)
  1. Evolution, Dysfunction and Disease: A Reappraisal.Paul E. Griffiths & John Matthewson - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw021.
    Some ‘naturalist’ accounts of disease employ a biostatistical account of dysfunction whilst others use a ‘selected effect’ account. Several recent authors have argued that the biostatistical account (BST) offers the best hope for a naturalist account of disease. We show that the selected effect account survives the criticisms levelled by these authors relatively unscathed, and has significant advantages over the BST. Moreover, unlike the BST it has a strong theoretical rationale and can provide substantive reasons to decide difficult cases. This (...)
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    Mechanistic Models of Population-Level Phenomena.John Matthewson & Brett Calcott - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (5):737-756.
    This paper is about mechanisms and models, and how they interact. In part, it is a response to recent discussion in philosophy of biology regarding whether natural selection is a mechanism. We suggest that this debate is indicative of a more general problem that occurs when scientists produce mechanistic models of populations and their behaviour. We can make sense of claims that there are mechanisms that drive population-level phenomena such as macroeconomics, natural selection, ecology, and epidemiology. But talk of mechanisms (...)
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  3. The Structure of Tradeoffs in Model Building.John Matthewson & Michael Weisberg - 2009 - Synthese 170 (1):169 - 190.
    Despite their best efforts, scientists may be unable to construct models that simultaneously exemplify every theoretical virtue. One explanation for this is the existence of tradeoffs: relationships of attenuation that constrain the extent to which models can have such desirable qualities. In this paper, we characterize three types of tradeoffs theorists may confront. These characterizations are then used to examine the relationships between parameter precision and two types of generality. We show that several of these relationships exhibit tradeoffs and discuss (...)
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  4. Mechanistic Explanation Without Mechanisms.John Matthewson & Brett Calcott - manuscript
    We provide an account of mechanistic representation and explanation that has several advantages over previous proposals. In our view, explaining mechanistically is not simply giving an explanation of a mechanism. Rather, an explanation is mechanistic because of particular relations that hold between a mechanical representation, or model, and the target of explanation. Under this interpretation, mechanistic explanation is possible even when the explanatory target is not a mechanism. We argue that taking this view is not only coherent and plausible, it (...)
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  5.  57
    Trade-Offs in Model-Building: A More Target-Oriented Approach.John Matthewson - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):324-333.
    In his 1966 paper "The Strategy of model-building in Population Biology", Richard Levins argues that no single model in population biology can be maximally realistic, precise and general at the same time. This is because these desirable model properties trade-off against one another. Recently, philosophers have developed Levins' claims, arguing that trade-offs between these desiderata are generated by practical limitations on scientists, or due to formal aspects of models and how they represent the world. However this project is not complete. (...)
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  6.  5
    Biological Criteria of Disease: Four Ways of Going Wrong.John Matthewson & Paul E. Griffiths - 2017 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine (4).
    We defend a view of the distinction between the normal and the pathological according to which that distinction has an objective, biological component. We accept that there is a normative component to the concept of disease, especially as applied to human beings. Nevertheless, an organism cannot be in a pathological state unless something has gone wrong for that organism from a purely biological point of view. Biology, we argue, recognises two sources of biological normativity, which jointly generate four “ways of (...)
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    Evolution, Dysfunction, and Disease: A Reappraisal: Table 1.Paul E. Griffiths & John Matthewson - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw021.
  8.  9
    Evolution, Dysfunction, and Disease: A Reappraisal.Paul E. Griffiths & John Matthewson - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw021.
    Some ‘naturalist’ accounts of disease employ a biostatistical account of dysfunction, whilst others use a ‘selected effect’ account. Several recent authors have argued that the biostatistical account offers the best hope for a naturalist account of disease. We show that the selected effect account survives the criticisms levelled by these authors relatively unscathed, and has significant advantages over the BST. Moreover, unlike the BST, it has a strong theoretical rationale and can provide substantive reasons to decide difficult cases. This is (...)
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  9.  10
    Defining Paradigm Darwinian Populations.John Matthewson - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (2):178-197.
    This paper presents an account of the biological populations that can undergo paradigmatic natural selection. I argue for, and develop Peter Godfrey-Smith’s claim that reproductive competition is a core attribute of such populations. However, as Godfrey-Smith notes, it is not the only important attribute. I suggest what the missing element is, co-opting elements of Alan Templeton’s notion of exchangeability. The final framework is then compared to two recent discussions regarding biological populations proposed by Roberta Millstein and Jacob Stegenga.
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    Trade-Offs in Model-Building: A More Target-Oriented Approach.John Matthewson - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):324-333.
  11. Trade-Offs in Model-Building: Trade-Offs in Model-Building.John Matthewson - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):324-333.
    In his 1966 paper “The Strategy of model-building in Population Biology”, Richard Levins argues that no single model in population biology can be maximally realistic, precise and general at the same time. This is because these desirable model properties trade-off against one another. Recently, philosophers have developed Levins’ claims, arguing that trade-offs between these desiderata are generated by practical limitations on scientists, or due to formal aspects of models and how they represent the world. However this project is not complete. (...)
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