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Pierrick Bourrat
Macquarie University
  1.  31
    The Evolutionary Gene and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis.Qiaoying Lu & Pierrick Bourrat - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (3):775-800.
    Advocates of an ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’ have claimed that standard evolutionary theory fails to accommodate epigenetic inheritance. The opponents of the extended synthesis argue that the evidence for epigenetic inheritance causing adaptive evolution in nature is insufficient. We suggest that the ambiguity surrounding the conception of the gene represents a background semantic issue in the debate. Starting from Haig’s gene-selectionist framework and Griffiths and Neumann-Held’s notion of the evolutionary gene, we define senses of ‘gene’, ‘environment’, and ‘phenotype’ in a way (...)
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  2.  57
    The Evolutionary Gene and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis.Qiaoying Lu & Pierrick Bourrat - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw035.
    Advocates of an ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’ have claimed that standard evolutionary theory fails to accommodate epigenetic inheritance. The opponents of the extended synthesis argue that the evidence for epigenetic inheritance causing adaptive evolution in nature is insufficient. We suggest that the ambiguity surrounding the conception of the gene represents a background semantic issue in the debate. Starting from Haig’s gene-selectionist framework and Griffiths and Neumann-Held’s notion of the evolutionary gene, we define senses of ‘gene’, ‘environment’, and ‘phenotype’ in a way (...)
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  3.  38
    Multispecies individuals.Pierrick Bourrat & Paul E. Griffiths - 2018 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40 (2):33.
    We assess the arguments for recognising functionally integrated multispecies consortia as genuine biological individuals, including cases of so-called ‘holobionts’. We provide two examples in which the same core biochemical processes that sustain life are distributed across a consortium of individuals of different species. Although the same chemistry features in both examples, proponents of the holobiont as unit of evolution would recognize one of the two cases as a multispecies individual whilst they would consider the other as a compelling case of (...)
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  4.  32
    Dissolving the Missing Heritability Problem.Pierrick Bourrat & Qiaoying Lu - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (5):1055-1067.
    Heritability estimates obtained from genome-wide association studies are much lower than those of traditional quantitative methods. This phenomenon has been called the “missing heritability problem.” By analyzing and comparing GWAS and traditional quantitative methods, we first show that the estimates obtained from the latter involve some terms other than additive genetic variance, while the estimates from the former do not. Second, GWAS, when used to estimate heritability, do not take into account additive epigenetic factors transmitted across generations, while traditional quantitative (...)
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  5.  24
    On Calcott’s Permissive and Instructive Cause Distinction.Pierrick Bourrat - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (1):1.
    I argue that Calcott :481–505, Calcott 2017) mischaracterizes in an important way the notion of causal specificity proposed by Woodward :287–318, Woodward 2010). This leads him to rely too heavily on one single aspect of Woodward’s analysis on causal specificity; propose an information-theoretic measure he calls ‘precision’ which is partly redundant with, but less general than one of the dimensions in Woodward’s analysis of specificity, without acknowledging Woodward’s analysis; and claim that comparing the specificities of two or more causes under (...)
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  6.  58
    How to Read ‘Heritability’ in the Recipe Approach to Natural Selection.Pierrick Bourrat - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (4):883-903.
    There are two ways evolution by natural selection is conceptualized in the literature. One provides a ‘recipe’ for ENS incorporating three ingredients: variation, differences in fitness, and heritability. The other provides formal equations of evolutionary change and partitions out selection from other causes of evolutionary changes such as transmission biases or drift. When comparing the two approaches there seems to be a tension around the concept of heritability. A recent claim has been made that the recipe approach is flawed and (...)
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  7.  2
    Variation of Information as a Measure of One-to-One Causal Specificity.Pierrick Bourrat - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (1):1-18.
    The interventionist account provides us with several notions permitting the qualification of causal relationships. In recent years, there has been a push toward formalizing these notions using information theory. In this paper, I discuss one of them, namely causal specificity. The notion of causal specificity is ambiguous as it can refer to at least two different concepts. After having presented these, I show that current attempts to formalize causal specificity in information theoretic terms have mostly focused on one of these (...)
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  8.  92
    From Survivors to Replicators: Evolution by Natural Selection Revisited.Pierrick Bourrat - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (4):517-538.
    For evolution by natural selection to occur it is classically admitted that the three ingredients of variation, difference in fitness and heredity are necessary and sufficient. In this paper, I show using simple individual-based models, that evolution by natural selection can occur in populations of entities in which neither heredity nor reproduction are present. Furthermore, I demonstrate by complexifying these models that both reproduction and heredity are predictable Darwinian products (i.e. complex adaptations) of populations initially lacking these two properties but (...)
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  9.  15
    Variation of Information as a Measure of One-to-One Causal Specificity.Pierrick Bourrat - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (1):11.
    The interventionist account provides us with several notions permitting the qualification of causal relationships. In recent years, there has been a push toward formalizing these notions using information theory. In this paper, I discuss one of them, namely causal specificity. The notion of causal specificity is ambiguous as it can refer to at least two different concepts. After having presented these, I show that current attempts to formalize causal specificity in information theoretic terms have mostly focused on one of these (...)
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  10.  24
    Interpreting Heritability Causally.Kate E. Lynch & Pierrick Bourrat - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (1):14-34.
    A high heritability estimate usually corresponds to a situation in which trait variation is largely caused by genetic variation. However, in some cases of gene-environment covariance, causal intuitions about the sources of trait difference can vary, leading experts to disagree as to how the heritability estimate should be interpreted. We argue that the source of contention for these cases is an inconsistency in the interpretation of the concepts ‘genotype’, ‘phenotype’, and ‘environment’. We propose an interpretation of these terms under which (...)
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  11.  63
    Levels of Selection Are Artefacts of Different Fitness Temporal Measures.Pierrick Bourrat - 2015 - Ratio 28 (1):40-50.
    In this paper I argue against the claim, recently put forward by some philosophers of biology and evolutionary biologists, that there can be two or more ontologically distinct levels of selection. I show by comparing the fitness of individuals with that of collectives of individuals in the same environment and over the same period of time – as required to decide if one or more levels of selection is acting in a population – that the selection of collectives is a (...)
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  12.  74
    Levels, Time and Fitness in Evolutionary Transitions in Individuality.Pierrick Bourrat - 2015 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 7 (20150505).
    Yes, fitness is the central concept of evolutionary biology, but it is an elusive concept. Almost everyone who looks at it seriously comes out in a different place.
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  13.  37
    Natural Selection and Drift as Individual-Level Causes of Evolution.Pierrick Bourrat - 2018 - Acta Biotheoretica 66 (3):159-176.
    In this paper I critically evaluate Reisman and Forber’s :1113–1123, 2005) arguments that drift and natural selection are population-level causes of evolution based on what they call the manipulation condition. Although I agree that this condition is an important step for identifying causes for evolutionary change, it is insufficient. Following Woodward, I argue that the invariance of a relationship is another crucial parameter to take into consideration for causal explanations. Starting from Reisman and Forber’s example on drift and after having (...)
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  14.  35
    Distinguishing Natural Selection From Other Evolutionary Processes in the Evolution of Altruism.Pierrick Bourrat - 2015 - Biological Theory 10 (4):311-321.
    Altruism is one of the most studied topics in theoretical evolutionary biology. The debate surrounding the evolution of altruism has generally focused on the conditions under which altruism can evolve and whether it is better explained by kin selection or multilevel selection. This debate has occupied the forefront of the stage and left behind a number of equally important questions. One of them, which is the subject of this article, is whether the word “selection” in “kin selection” and “multilevel selection” (...)
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  15. Origins and Evolution of Religion From a Darwinian Point of View: Synthesis of Different Theories.Pierrick Bourrat - 2015 - In Thomas Heams, Philippe Huneman, Guillaume Lecointre & Marc Silberstein (eds.), Handbook of Evolutionary Thinking in the Sciences. Springer. pp. 761-779.
    The religious phenomenon is a complex one in many respects. In recent years an increasing number of theories on the origin and evolution of religion have been put forward. Each one of these theories rests on a Darwinian framework but there is a lot of disagreement about which bits of the framework account best for the evolution of religion. Is religion primarily a by-product of some adaptation? Is it itself an adaptation, and if it is, does it benefi ciate individuals (...)
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  16.  26
    Explaining Drift From a Deterministic Setting.Pierrick Bourrat - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (1):27-38.
    Drift is often characterized in statistical terms. Yet such a purely statistical characterization is ambiguous for it can accept multiple physical interpretations. Because of this ambiguity it is important to distinguish what sorts of processes can lead to this statistical phenomenon. After presenting a physical interpretation of drift originating from the most popular interpretation of fitness, namely the propensity interpretation, I propose a different one starting from an analysis of the concept of drift made by Godfrey-Smith. Further on, I show (...)
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  17.  28
    Have Causal Claims About the Gut Microbiome Been Over‐Hyped?Pierrick Bourrat - 2018 - Bioessays 40 (12):1800178.
  18. Beliefs About God, the Afterlife and Morality Support the Role of Supernatural Policing in Human Cooperation.Quentin Atkinson & Pierrick Bourrat - 2011 - Evolution and Human Behavior 32 (1):41-49.
    Reputation monitoring and the punishment of cheats are thought to be crucial to the viability and maintenance of human cooperation in large groups of non-kin. However, since the cost of policing moral norms must fall to those in the group, policing is itself a public good subject to exploitation by free riders. Recently, it has been suggested that belief in supernatural monitoring and punishment may discourage individuals from violating established moral norms and so facilitate human cooperation. Here we use cross-cultural (...)
     
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  19.  14
    Natural Selection and the Reference Grain Problem.Pierrick Bourrat - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 80:1-8.
  20.  20
    Generalizing Contextual Analysis.Pierrick Bourrat - 2016 - Acta Biotheoretica 64 (2):197-217.
    Okasha, in Evolution and the Levels of Selection, convincingly argues that two rival statistical decompositions of covariance, namely contextual analysis and the neighbour approach, are better causal decompositions than the hierarchical Price approach. However, he claims that this result cannot be generalized in the special case of soft selection and argues that the Price approach represents in this case a better option. He provides several arguments to substantiate this claim. In this paper, I demonstrate that these arguments are flawed and (...)
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  21.  21
    Why the Missing Heritability Might Not Be in the DNA.Pierrick Bourrat, Qiaoying Lu & Eva Jablonka - 2017 - Bioessays 39 (7):1700067.
  22.  8
    Heritability, causal influence and locality.Pierrick Bourrat - 2019 - Synthese 198 (7):6689-6715.
    Heritability is routinely interpreted causally. Yet, what such an interpretation amounts to is often unclear. Here, I provide a causal interpretation of this concept in terms of range of causal influence, one of several causal dimensions proposed within the interventionist account of causation. An information-theoretic measure of range of causal influence has recently been put forward in the literature. Starting from this formalization and relying upon Woodward’s analysis, I show that an important problem associated with interpreting heritability causally, namely the (...)
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  23.  3
    Causation and Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Heritability.Pierrick Bourrat - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (5):1073-1083.
    Genome-wide association studies of human complex traits have provided us with new estimates of heritability. These estimates foreground the question of genetic causation. After having presen...
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  24.  22
    Ecological Scaffolding and the Evolution of Individuality.Andrew Black, Pierrick Bourrat & Paul Rainey - 2020 - Nature Ecology and Evolution 4:426–436.
  25.  35
    In What Sense Can There Be Evolution by Natural Selection Without Perfect Inheritance?Pierrick Bourrat - 2019 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 32 (1):13-31.
    ABSTRACTIn Darwinian Population and Natural Selection, Peter Godfrey-Smith brought the topic of natural selection back to the forefront of philosophy of biology, highlighting different issues surro...
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  26. Surveillance Cues Enhance Moral Condemnation.Pierrick Bourrat, Nicolas Baumard & Ryan McKay - 2011 - Evolutionary Psychology 9 (2):193-199.
    Humans pay close attention to the reputational consequences of their actions. Recent experiments indicate that even very subtle cues that one is being observed can affect cooperative behaviors. Expressing our opinions about the morality of certain acts is a key means of advertising our cooperative dispositions. Here, we investigated how subtle cues of being watched would affect moral judgments. We predicted that participants exposed to such cues would affirm their endorsement of prevailing moral norms by expressing greater disapproval of moral (...)
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  27.  20
    Replication and Reproduction.John Wilkins & Pierrick Bourrat - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  28.  3
    Taming Fitness: Organism‐Environment Interdependencies Preclude Long‐Term Fitness Forecasting.Guilhem Doulcier, Peter Takacs & Pierrick Bourrat - 2021 - Bioessays 43 (1):2000157.
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  29. Supernatural Beliefs and the Evolution of Cooperation.Pierrick Bourrat & Hugo Viciana - 2016 - In James Liddle & Todd K. Shackelford (eds.), Oxford Handbook of the Evolutionary Perspectives on Religion. Oxford University Press: Oxford University Press.
     
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  30.  45
    Is God an Adaptation?: Robert Wright’s, The Evolution of God, Little Brown, 2009.Hugo Viciana & Pierrick Bourrat - 2011 - Philosophia 39 (2):397-408.
    In this critical notice to Robert Wright’s The Evolution of God, we focus on the question of whether Wright’s God is one which can be said to be an adaptation in a well defined sense. Thus we evaluate the likelihood of different models of adaptive evolution of cultural ideas in their different levels of selection. Our result is an emphasis on the plurality of mechanisms that may lead to adaptation. By way of conclusion we assess epistemologically some of Wright’s more (...)
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  31.  66
    Being Precise About Precision and One-to-One Specificity.Pierrick Bourrat - manuscript
    Following from my criticisms of Calcott’s analysis on the permissive/instructive distinction, I rebut his claims that 1) he clarifies my measure one-to-one specificity; 2) for all intents and purposes of his analysis his notion of precision is different from my measure of one- to-one specificity; 3) Waddington box is a better and different model than the extension of Woodward’s radio I propose.
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  32.  23
    Evolution by Natural Selection: Confidence, Evidence and the Gap, by Michaelis Michael: Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2016, Pp. Xv + 152, £61.99. [REVIEW]Pierrick Bourrat - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (4):816-819.
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  33.  20
    Evolution is About Populations, But Its Causes are About Individuals.Pierrick Bourrat - 2019 - Biological Theory 14 (4):254-266.
    There is a tension between, on the one hand, the view that natural selection refers to individual-level causes, and on the other hand, the view that it refers to a population-level cause. In this article, I make the case for the individual-level cause view. I respond to recent claims made by McLoone that the individual-level cause view is inconsistent. I show that if one were to follow his arguments, any causal claim in any context would have to be regarded as (...)
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  34.  11
    Facts, Conventions, and the Levels of Selection.Pierrick Bourrat - 2021 - Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    Debates concerning the units and levels of selection have persisted for over fifty years. One major question in this literature is whether units and levels of selection are genuine, in the sense that they are objective features of the world, or merely reflect the interests and goals of an observer. Scientists and philosophers have proposed a range of answers to this question. This Element introduces this literature and proposes a novel contribution. It defends a realist stance and offers a way (...)
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  35.  6
    Function, Persistence, and Selection: Generalizing the Selected-Effect Account of Function Adequately.Pierrick Bourrat - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 90:61-67.
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  36.  3
    Measuring Causal Invariance Formally.Pierrick Bourrat - 2021 - Entropy 23 (6):690.
    Invariance is one of several dimensions of causal relationships within the interventionist account. The more invariant a relationship between two variables, the more the relationship should be considered paradigmatically causal. In this paper, I propose two formal measures to estimate invariance, illustrated by a simple example. I then discuss the notion of invariance for causal relationships between non-nominal (i.e., ordinal and quantitative) variables, for which Information theory, and hence the formalism proposed here, is not well suited. Finally, I propose how (...)
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  37.  3
    Review of Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb's "Inheritance Systems and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis". [REVIEW]Pierrick Bourrat - 2021 - BJPS Review of Books.
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  38.  3
    Review of "Biological Individuality: Integrating Scientific, Philosophical, and Historical Perspectives", by S. Lidgard and L. K. Nyhart (Eds.).Pierrick Bourrat - 2017 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  39. Supernatural Punishment and Individual Social Compliance Across Cultures.Pierrick Bourrat, Quentin Atkinson & Robin Dunbar - 2011 - Religion, Brain and Behavior 1 (2):119-134.
    Cooperation for the public good is vulnerable to exploitation by free-riders because it always pays individuals to exploit the social contract for their own benefit. This problem can be resolved if free-riders are punished, but punishment is itself a public good subject to free-riding. The fear of supernatural punishment hypothesis (FSPH) proposes that belief in supernatural punishment might offer a solution to this problem by deflecting the cost of punishment onto supernatural forces and thereby incentivizing cooperation. FSPH is supported empirically (...)
     
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  40.  37
    Time and Fitness in Evolutionary Transitions in Individuality.Pierrick Bourrat - unknown
    It is striking that the concept of fitness although fundamental in evolutionary theory, still remains ambiguous. I argue here that time, although usually neglected, is an important parameter in regards to the concept of fitness. I will show some of the benefits of taking it seriously using the example of recent debates over evolutionary transitions in individuality. I start from Okasha's assertion that once an evolutionary transition in individuality is completed an ontologically new level of selection emerges from lower levels (...)
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  41.  14
    Transitions in Evolution: A Formal Analysis.Pierrick Bourrat - 2019 - Synthese 198 (4):3699-3731.
    Evolutionary transitions in individuality are events during which individuals at a given level of organization interact to form higher-level entities which are then recognized as new individuals at that level. ETIs are intimately related to levels of selection, which, following Okasha, can be approached from two different perspectives. One, referred to as ‘synchronic’, asks whether selection occurs at the collective level while the partitioning of particles into collectives is taken for granted. The other, referred to as ‘diachronic’, asks about the (...)
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  42. The Idea of Mismatch in Evolutionary Medicine.Pierrick Bourrat & Paul Edmund Griffiths - manuscript
    Mismatch is a prominent concept in evolutionary medicine and a number of philosophers have published analyses of this concept. The word ‘mismatch’ has been used in a diversity of ways across a range of sciences, leading these authors to regard it as a vague concept in need of philosophical clarification. Here, in contrast, we concentrate on the use of mismatch in modelling and experimentation in evolutionary medicine. This reveals a rigorous theory of mismatch within which the term ‘mismatch’ is indeed (...)
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  43.  3
    Fidelity and the grain problem in cultural evolution.Mathieu Charbonneau & Pierrick Bourrat - forthcoming - Synthese:1-22.
    High-fidelity cultural transmission, rather than brute intelligence, is the secret of our species’ success, or so many cultural evolutionists claim. It has been selected because it ensures the spread, stability and longevity of beneficial cultural traditions, and it supports cumulative cultural change. To play these roles, however, fidelity must be a causally-efficient property of cultural transmission. This is where the grain problem comes in and challenges the explanatory potency of fidelity. Assessing the degree of fidelity of any episode or mechanism (...)
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  44.  66
    Are Biological Traits Explained by Their 'Selected Effect' Functions?Joshua R. Christie, Carl Brusse, Pierrick Bourrat, Peter Takacs & Paul Edmund Griffiths - forthcoming - Australasian Philosophical Review.
    The selected effects or ‘etiological’ theory of Proper function is a naturalistic and realist account of biological teleology. It is used to analyse normativity in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, philosophy of medicine and elsewhere. The theory has been developed with a simple and intuitive view of natural selection. Traits are selected because of their positive effects on the fitness of the organisms that have them. These ‘selected effects’ are the Proper functions of the traits. Proponents argue that this (...)
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  45.  8
    Small Things, Big Consequences: Microbiological Perspectives on Biology.Michael J. Duncan, Pierrick Bourrat, Jennifer Deberardinis & Maureen A. O'Malley - 2013 - In Kostas Kampourakis (ed.), The Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators. Springer. pp. 1--373.
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