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Paul Edmund Griffiths
University of Sydney
  1. Genetic Information: A Metaphor in Search of a Theory.Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (3):394-412.
    John Maynard Smith has defended against philosophical criticism the view that developmental biology is the study of the expression of information encoded in the genes by natural selection. However, like other naturalistic concepts of information, this ‘teleosemantic’ information applies to many non-genetic factors in development. Maynard Smith also fails to show that developmental biology is concerned with teleosemantic information. Some other ways to support Maynard Smith’s conclusion are considered. It is argued that on any definition of information the view that (...)
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  2.  45
    Biological Criteria of Disease: Four Ways of Going Wrong.John Matthewson & Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2017 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 1 (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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  3. Emotions in the Wild: The Situated Perspective on Emotion.Paul Edmund Griffiths & Andrea Scarantino - 2005 - In P. Robbins & Murat Aydede (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition. Cambridge University Press.
    This chapter describes a perspective on emotion, according to which emotions are: 1. Designed to function in a social context: an emotion is often an act of relationship reconfiguration brought about by delivering a social signal; 2. Forms of skillful engagement with the world which need not be mediated by conceptual thought; 3. Scaffolded by the environment, both synchronically in the unfolding of a particular emotional performance and diachronically, in the acquisition of an emotional repertoire; 4. Dynamically coupled to an (...)
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  4.  94
    The Phenomena of Homology.Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (5):643-658.
    Philosophical discussions of biological classification have failed to recognise the central role of homology in the classification of biological parts and processes. One reason for this is a misunderstanding of the relationship between judgments of homology and the core explanatory theories of biology. The textbook characterisation of homology as identity by descent is commonly regarded as a definition. I suggest instead that it is one of several attempts to explain the phenomena of homology. Twenty years ago the ‘new experimentalist’ movement (...)
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  5. The Importance of Homology for Biology and Philosophy.Ingo Brigandt & Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (5):633-641.
    Editors' introduction to the special issue on homology (Biology and Philosophy Vol. 22, Issue 5, 2007).
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  6. In What Sense Does ‘Nothing Make Sense Except in the Light of Evolution’?Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2009 - Acta Biotheoretica 57 (1-2):11-32.
    Dobzhansky argued that biology only makes sense if life on earth has a shared history. But his dictum is often reinterpreted to mean that biology only makes sense in the light of adaptation. Some philosophers of science have argued in this spirit that all work in ‘proximal’ biosciences such as anatomy, physiology and molecular biology must be framed, at least implicitly, by the selection histories of the organisms under study. Others have denied this and have proposed non-evolutionary ways in which (...)
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  7. Genetic, Epigenetic and Exogenetic Information in Development and Evolution.Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2017 - Interface Focus 7 (5).
    The idea that development is the expression of information accumulated during evolution and that heredity is the transmission of this information is surprisingly hard to cash out in strict, scientific terms. This paper seeks to do so using the sense of information introduced by Francis Crick in his sequence hypothesis and central dogma of molecular biology. It focuses on Crick's idea of precise determination. This is analysed using an information-theoretic measure of causal specificity. This allows us to reconstruct some of (...)
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  8. Ethology, Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology.Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2011 - In Sahotra Sarkar & Anya Plutynski (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Biology. West Sussex, UK: Wiley/Blackwell. pp. 393-414.
    In the years leading up to the Second World War the ethologists Konrad Lorenz and Nikolaas Tinbergen, created the tradition of rigorous, Darwinian research on animal behavior that developed into modern behavioral ecology. At first glance, research on specifically human behavior seems to exhibit greater discontinuity that research on animal behavior in general. The 'human ethology' of the 1960s appears to have been replaced in the early 1970s by a new approach called ‘sociobiology’. Sociobiology in its turn appears to have (...)
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  9. Developmental Systems Theory as a Process Theory.Paul Edmund Griffiths & Karola Stotz - forthcoming - In Daniel J. Nicholson & John Dupre (eds.), Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 00-00.
    Griffiths and Russell D. Gray (1994, 1997, 2001) have argued that the fundamental unit of analysis in developmental systems theory should be a process – the life cycle – and not a set of developmental resources and interactions between those resources. The key concepts of developmental systems theory, epigenesis and developmental dynamics, both also suggest a process view of the units of development. This chapter explores in more depth the features of developmental systems theory that favour treating processes as fundamental (...)
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  10. Genetic, Epigenetic and Exogenetic Information.Karola Stotz & Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2017 - In Richard Joyce (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Evolution and Philosophy. London & New York: Routledge.
    We describe an approach to measuring biological information where ‘information’ is understood in the sense found in Francis Crick’s foundational contributions to molecular biology. Genes contain information in this sense, but so do epigenetic factors, as many biologists have recognized. The term ‘epigenetic’ is ambiguous, and we introduce a distinction between epigenetic and exogenetic inheritance to clarify one aspect of this ambiguity. These three heredity systems play complementary roles in supplying information for development. -/- We then consider the evolutionary significance (...)
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  11.  86
    Molecular and Developmental Biology.Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2002 - In Peter Machamer & Michael Silberstein (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Science. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers. pp. 252-271.
    Philosophical discussion of molecular and developmental biology began in the late 1960s with the use of genetics as a test case for models of theory reduction. With this exception, the theory of natural selection remained the main focus of philosophy of biology until the late 1970s. It was controversies in evolutionary theory over punctuated equilibrium and adaptationism that first led philosophers to examine the concept of developmental constraint. Developmental biology also gained in prominence in the 1980s as part of a (...)
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  12.  23
    Causal Reasoning About Genetics: Synthesis and Future Directions.Kate E. Lynch, Ilan Dar Nimrod, Paul Edmund Griffiths & James Morandini - 2019 - Behavior Genetics 2 (49):221-234.
    When explaining the causes of human behavior, genes are often given a special status. They are thought to relate to an intrinsic human 'essence', and essentialist biases have been shown to skew the way in which causation is assessed. Causal reasoning in general is subject to other pre-existing biases, including beliefs about normativity and morality. In this synthesis we show how factors which influence causal reasoning can be mapped to a framework of genetic essentialism, which reveals both the shared and (...)
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  13.  2
    Comparing Causes - an Information-Theoretic Approach to Specificity, Proportionality and Stability.Arnaud Pocheville, Paul Edmund Griffiths & Karola C. Stotz - 2017 - Proceedings of the 15th Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science.
    The interventionist account of causation offers a criterion to distinguish causes from non-causes. It also aims at defining various desirable properties of causal relationships, such as specificity, proportionality and stability. Here we apply an information-theoretic approach to these properties. We show that the interventionist criterion of causation is formally equivalent to non-zero specificity, and that there are natural, information-theoretic ways to explicate the distinction between potential and actual causal influence. We explicate the idea that the description of causes should be (...)
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  14.  1
    The Case for Basic Biological Research.Isobel Ronai & Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2019 - Trends in Molecular Medicine 25 (2).
    The majority of biomedical and biological research relies on a few molecular biology techniques. Here we show that eight key molecular biology techniques would not exist without basic biological research.We also find that the scientific reward system does not sufficiently value basic biological research into molecular mechanisms.
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  15. A Developmental Systems Account of Human Nature.Karola Stotz & Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2018 - In Tim Lewens & Elizabeth Hannon (eds.), Why we disagree about human nature. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 00-00.
    It is now widely accepted that a scientifically credible conception of human nature must reject the folkbiological idea of a fixed, inner essence that makes us human. We argue here that to understand human nature is to understand the plastic process of human development and the diversity it produces. Drawing on the framework of developmental systems theory and the idea of developmental niche construction we argue that human nature is not embodied in only one input to development, such as the (...)
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