In this essay, I argue for four related claims. First, Richard Levins’ classic “The Strategy of Model Building in Population Biology” was a statement and defense of theoretical population biology growing out of collaborations between Robert MacArthur, Richard Lewontin, E. O. Wilson, and others. Second, I argue that the essay served as a response to the rise of systems ecology especially as pioneered by Kenneth Watt. Third, the arguments offered by Levins against systems ecology and in favor of (...) his own methodological program are best construed as “pragmatic”. Fourth, I consider limitations of Levins’ arguments given contemporary population biology. (shrink)
I defend a radical interpretation of biological populations—what I call population pluralism—which holds that there are many ways that a particular grouping of individuals can be related such that the grouping satisfies the conditions necessary for those individuals to evolve together. More constraining accounts of biological populations face empirical counter-examples and conceptual difficulties. One of the most intuitive and frequently employed conditions, causal connectivity—itself beset with numerous difficulties—is best construed by considering the relevant causal relations as ‘thick’ causal concepts. (...) I argue that the fine-grained causal relations that could constitute membership in a biological population are huge in number and many are manifested by degree, and thus we can construe population membership as being defined by massively multidimensional constructs, the differences between which are largely arbitrary. I end by showing that positions in two recent debates in theoretical biology depend on a view of biological populations at odds with the pluralism defended here. 1 Introduction2 Biological Population, Broad and Narrow3 Difficulties with Narrow Biological Population Conditions3.1 Against the genealogical condition3.2 Against the conspecificity condition3.3 Against the proximity condition3.4 Against the typology condition4 Causal Connectivity5 Massively Multidimensional Population Constructs6 Population Uniqueness and Natural Selection6.1 Statisticalism and its discontents6.2 Price at what price?7 Conclusion. (shrink)
I defend a radical interpretation of biological populations—what I call population pluralism—which holds that there are many ways that a particular grouping of individuals can be related such that the grouping satisfies the conditions necessary for those individuals to evolve together. More constraining accounts of biological populations face empirical counter-examples and conceptual difficulties. One of the most intuitive and frequently employed conditions, causal connectivity—itself beset with numerous difficulties—is best construed by considering the relevant causal relations as ‘thick’ causal concepts. (...) I argue that the fine-grained causal relations that could constitute membership in a biological population are huge in number and many are manifested by degree, and thus we can construe population membership as being defined by massively multidimensional constructs, the differences between which are largely arbitrary. I end by showing that positions in two recent debates in theoretical biology depend on a view of biological populations at odds with the pluralism defended here. (shrink)
Given the deep disagreement surrounding population axiology, one should remain uncertain about which theory is best. However, this uncertainty need not leave one neutral about which acts are better or worse. We show that as the number of lives at stake grows, the Expected Moral Value approach to axiological uncertainty systematically pushes one towards choosing the option preferred by the Total and Critical Level views, even if one’s credence in those theories is low.
The standard mathematical models in population ecology assume that a population's growth rate is a function of its environment. In this paper we investigate an alternative proposal according to which the rate of change of the growth rate is a function of the environment and of environmental change. We focus on the philosophical issues involved in such a fundamental shift in theoretical assumptions, as well as on the explanations the two theories offer for some of the key data (...) such as cyclic populations. We also discuss the relationship between this move in population ecology and a similar move from first-order to second-order differential equations championed by Galileo and Newton in celestial mechanics. (shrink)
This paper suggests that many of the pressing dilemmas of bioethics are global and structural in nature. Accordingly, global ethical frameworks are required which recognize the ethically significant factors of all global actors. To this end, ethical frameworks must recognize the rights and interests of both individuals and groups (and the interrelation of these). The paper suggests that the current dominant bioethical framework is inadequate to this task as it is over-individualist and therefore unable to give significant weight to the (...) ethical demands of groups (and by extension communal and public goods). It will explore this theme by considering the inadequacy of informed consent (the ‘global standard’ of bioethics) to address two pressing global bioethical issues: medical tourism and population genetics.Using these examples it will show why consent is inadequate to address all the significant features of these ethical dilemmas. Four key failures will be explored, namely,• That the rights and interests of those related (and therefore affected) are neglected;• That consent fails to take account of the context and commitments of individuals which may constitute inducement and coercion;• That consent alone does not have the ethical weight to negate exploitation or make an unjust action just (‘the fallacy of sufficiency’);• That consent is a single one-off act which is inappropriate for the types of decision being made.It will conclude by suggesting that more appropriate models are emerging, particularly in population genetics, which can supplement consent. (shrink)
The concept of population thinking was introduced by Ernst Mayr as the right way of thinking about the biological domain, but it is difficult to find an interpretation of this notion that is both unproblematic and does the theoretical work it was intended to do. I argue that, properly conceived, Mayr’s population thinking is a version of trope nominalism: the view that biological property-types do not exist or at least they play no explanatory role. Further, although population (...) thinking has been traditionally used to argue against essentialism about biological kinds, recently it has been suggested that it may be consistent with at least some forms of essentialism—ones that construe essential properties as relational. I argue that if population thinking is a version of trope nominalism, then, as Mayr originally claimed, it rules out any version of essentialism about biological kinds. (shrink)
Regional planning for improved agricultural capacity to supply produce, legumes, and whole grains has the potential to improve population health as well as the local food economy. This case study of Waterloo Region (WR), Canada, had two objectives. First, we estimate the quantity of locally grown vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains needed to help meet the Region of Waterloo population’s optimal nutritional requirements currently and in 2026. Secondly, we estimate how much of these healthy food requirements for (...) the WR population could realistically be produced through local agriculture by the year 2026. Results show that a shift of approximately 10% of currently cropped hectares to the production of key nutritious foods would be both agriculturally feasible and nutritionally significant to the growing population. We supplement our findings with some agronomic considerations and community-level strategies that would inform and support such change. The methodology of this study could be applied to other regions: more such analyses would create a broader picture of the diverse qualitative and quantitative agricultural shifts that could synchronize optimal land use with dietary recommendations, thus informing coordinated policy and planning. (shrink)
Millstein (2009) argues against conceptual pluralism with respect to the definition of “population,” and proposes her own definition of the term. I challenge both Millstein's negative arguments against conceptual pluralism and her positive proposal for a singular definition of population. The concept of population, I argue, does not refer to a natural kind; populations are constructs of biologists variably defined by contexts of inquiry.
Recently, in his Rolf Schock Prize Lecture, Derek Parfit has suggested a novel way of avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion by introducing what he calls “imprecision” in value comparisons. He suggests that in a range of important cases, populations of different sizes are only imprecisely comparable. Parfit suggests that this feature of value comparisons opens up a way of avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion without implying other counterintuitive conclusions, and thus solves one of the major challenges in ethics. In this article, I (...) try to clarify Parfit's proposal and evaluate whether it will help us with the paradoxes in population ethics. (shrink)
Analysing the demands of global justice for the distribution of resources is a complex task and requires consideration of a broad range of issues. Of particular relevance is the effect that different distributions will have on global population growth and individual welfare. Since changes in the consumption and distribution of resources can have major effects on the welfare of the global population, and the rate at which it increases, it is important to establish meaningful principles to ensure a (...) just distribution of resources. In order to establish such principles we must consider the scope of any reproductive rights, and rights to other goods, such as food and health care, as well as examine the extent of duties correlating to those rights. In addition to the impact that distributions of global goods have on the welfare of current generations, it is also important to consider what duties we have, if any, to future generations. -/- The final version of this paper is available to download here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/9780470015902.a0024140. (shrink)
Elsewhere, I defend the “causal interactionist population concept” (CIPC). Here I further defend the CIPC by showing how it clarifies another concept that biologists grapple with, namely, environment. Should we understand selection as ranging only over homogeneous environments or, alternatively, as ranging over any habitat area we choose to study? I argue instead that the boundaries of the population dictate the range of the environment, whether homogeneous or heterogeneous, over which selection operates. Thus, understanding the concept of (...) class='Hi'>population helps us to understand concepts of selective environment, exemplifying the importance of the CIPC to other concepts and debates. (shrink)
This brief commentary reappraises the issue of emigration of physicians from developing countries to developed countries. A methodological framework is developed for assessing the impact of physician emigration on population health outcomes. The evidence from macro and micro studies suggest that developing countries especially in sub-Saharan Africa would benefit from regulating physician emigration because the loss of physicians can lower quality of healthcare services and lead to worse health outcomes. Further discussion is contained in an e-letter: http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2013/05/30/medethics-2013-101409/reply.
Millstein argues against conceptual pluralism with respect to the definition of “population,” and proposes her own definition of the term. I challenge both Millstein’s negative arguments against conceptual pluralism and her positive proposal for a singular definition of population. The concept of population, I argue, does not refer to a natural kind; populations are constructs of biologists variably defined by contexts of inquiry.
The status of population genetics has become hotly debated among biologists and philosophers of biology. Many seem to view population genetics as relatively unchanged since the Modern Synthesis and have argued that subjects such as development were left out of the Synthesis. Some have called for an extended evolutionary synthesis or for recognizing the insignificance of population genetics. Yet others such as Michael Lynch have defended population genetics, declaring "nothing in evolution makes sense except in the (...) light of population genetics" (a twist on Dobzhansky's famous slogan that "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution"). Missing from this discussion is the use of population genetics to shed light on ecology and vice versa, beginning in the 1940s and continuing until the present day. I highlight some of that history through an overview of traditions such as ecological genetics and population biology, followed by a slightly more in-depth look at a contemporary study of the endangered California Tiger Salamander. I argue that population genetics is a powerful and useful tool that continues to be used and modified, even if it isn't required for all evolutionary explanations or doesn't incorporate all the causal factors of evolution. (shrink)
Two new modes of thinking have spread through systematics in the twentieth century. Both have deep historical roots, but they have been widely accepted only during this century. Population thinking overtook the field in the early part of the century, culminating in the full development of population systematics in the 1930s and 1940s, and the subsequent growth of the entire field of population biology. Population thinking rejects the idea that each species has a natural type (as (...) the earlier essentialist view had assumed), and instead sees every species as a varying population of interbreeding individuals. Tree thinking has spread through the field since the 1960s with the development of phylogenetic systematics. Tree thinking recognizes that species are not independent replicates within a class (as earlier group thinkers had tended to see them), but are instead interconnected parts of an evolutionary tree. It lays emphasis on the explanation of evolutionary events in the context of a tree, rather than on the states exhibited by collections of species, and it sees evolutionary history as a story of divergence rather than a story of development. Just as population thinking gave rise to the new field of population biology, so tree thinking is giving rise to the new field of phylogenetic biology. (shrink)
Two related asymmetries have been discussed in relation to the ethics of creating new lives: First, we seem to have strong moral reason to avoid creating lives that are not worth living, but no moral reason to create lives that are worth living. Second, we seem to have strong moral reason to improve the wellbeing of existing lives, but, again, no moral reason to create lives that are worth living. Both asymmetries have proven very difficult to account for in any (...) coherent moral framework. I propose an impersonal population axiology to underpin the asymmetries, which sidesteps the problematic issue of whether or not people can be harmed or benefited by creation or non-creation. This axiology yields perfect asymmetry from a deliberative perspective, in terms of expected value. The axiology also yields substantial asymmetry for large and realistic populations in terms of their actual value, beyond deliberative relevance. (shrink)
In a recent article, “Wayward Modeling: Population Genetics and Natural Selection,” Bruce Glymour claims that population genetics is burdened by serious predictive and explanatory inadequacies and that the theory itself is to blame. Because Glymour overlooks a variety of formal modeling techniques in population genetics, his arguments do not quite undermine a major scientific theory. However, his arguments are extremely valuable as they provide definitive proof that those who would deploy classical population genetics over natural systems (...) must do so with careful attention to interactions between individual population members and environmental causes. Glymour’s arguments have deep implications for causation in classical population genetics. (shrink)
Research on incompetent humans raises ethical challenges, especially when there is no direct benefit to these research subjects. Contemporary codes of research ethics typically require that such research must specifically serve to benefit the population to which the research subjects belong. The article critically examines this “same-population condition”, raising issues of both interpretation and moral justification. Of particular concern is the risk that the way in which the condition is articulated and rationalized in effect disguises or downplays the (...) instrumentalization of incompetent individuals. (shrink)
This paper explores the intersections between national identity and the production of medical/population genomics in Mexico. The ongoing efforts to construct a Haplotype Map of Mexican genetic diversity offers a unique opportunity to illustrate and analyze the exchange between the historic-political narratives of nationalism, and the material culture of genomic science. Haplotypes are central actants in the search for medically significant SNP’s, as well as powerful entities involved in the delimitation of ancestry, temporality and variability. By following the circulation (...) of Haplotypes, light is shed on the alignments and discordances between socio-historical and bio-molecular mappings. The analysis is centred on the comparison between the genomic construction of time and ethnicity in the laboratory, and on the public mobilisation of a “Mexican Genome” and its wider political implications. Even though both: the scientific practice and the public discourse on medical/population genomics are traversed by notions of “admixture”, there are important distinctions to be made. In the public realm, the nationalist post-revolutionary ideas of Jose Vasconcelos, as expressed in his Cosmic Race, still hold sway in the social imaginary. In contrast, admixture is treated as a complex, relative and probabilistic notion in laboratory practices. I argue that the relation between medical/population genomics and national identity is better understood as a process of re-articulation, rather than coproduction of social and natural orders. The evolving process of re-articulation conceals the novelty of medical/population genomics, aligning scientific facts in order to fit the temporal and ethnic grids of “Mestizaje”. But it is precisely the social and political work, that matches the emerging field of population genomics to the pre-existing projects of national identity, what is most revealing in order to understand the multiple and even subtle ways in which population genomics challenges the historical and identitarian frames of a “Mestizo” nation. (shrink)
A path scheme for a game is composed of a path, i.e., a sequence of coalitions that is formed during the coalition formation process and a scheme, i.e., a payoff vector for each coalition in the path. A path scheme is called population monotonic if a player’s payoff does not decrease as the path coalition grows. In this study, we focus on Shapley path schemes of simple games in which for every path coalition the Shapley value of the associated (...) subgame provides the allocation at hand. Obviously, each Shapley path scheme of a game is population monotonic if and only if the Shapley allocation scheme of the game is population monotonic in the sense of Sprumont (Games Econ Behav 2:378–394, 1990). We prove that a simple game allows for population monotonic Shapley path schemes if and only if the game is balanced. Moreover, the Shapley path scheme of a specific path is population monotonic if and only if the first winning coalition that is formed along the path contains every minimal winning coalition. We also show that each Shapley path scheme of a simple game is population monotonic if and only if the set of veto players of the game is a winning coalition. Extensions of these results to other efficient probabilistic values are discussed. (shrink)
The relationship between individual and population health is partially built on the broad dichotomization of medicine into clinical medicine and public health. Potential drawbacks of current views include seeing both individual and population health as absolute and independent concepts. I will argue that the relationship between individual and population health is largely relative and dynamic. Their interrelated dynamism derives from a causally defined life course perspective on health determination starting from an individual’s conception through growth, development and (...) participation in the collective till death, all seen within the context of an adaptive society. Indeed, it will become clear that neither individual nor population health is identifiable or even definable without informative contextualization within the other. For instance, a person’s health cannot be seen in isolation but must be placed in the rich contextual web such as the socioeconomic circumstances and other health determinants of where they were conceived, born, bred, and how they shaped and were shaped by their environment and communities, especially given the prevailing population health exposures over their lifetime. We cannot discuss the “what” and “how much” of individual and population health until we know the cumulative trajectories of both, using appropriate causal language. (shrink)
Sober (1984) presents an account of selection motivated by the view that one property can causally explain the occurrence of another only if the first plays a unique role in the causal production of the second. Sober holds that a causal property will play such a unique role if it is a population level cause of its effect, and on this basis argues that there is selection for a trait T only if T is a population level cause (...) of survival and reproductive success. Sterelny and Kitcher (1988) claim against Sober that some traits directly subject to selection will not satisfy the probabilistic condition on population level causation. In this paper I show that Sober has the resources to resist the Sterelny-Kitcher complaint, but I argue that not all traits that satisfy the probabilistic condition play the required unique role in the production of their effects. (shrink)
According to prioritarianism, roughly, it is better to benefit a person, the worse off she is. This seems a plausible principle as long as it is applied only to fixed populations. However, once this restriction is lifted, prioritarianism seems to imply that it is better cause a person to exist at a welfare level of l than to confer l units on a person who already exists and is at a positive welfare level. Thus, prioritarianism seems to assign too much (...) weight to the welfare of possible future people. It is in this respect even more demanding than total utilitarianism. However, in this article, I argue that all told, it is not clear that prioritarian- ism is less plausible than total utilitarianism, even when it comes to Population Ethics. (shrink)
This paper addresses the application of the ethical concept of trust and the legal and political concept of public trust to population genomics projects in Iceland, Estonia, and Tonga. Focusing on trust and public trust, the paper explores analogies between the genomics projects and the treatment of other common-pool resources, making use of the notion of trust as an ethical demand, derived from the works of Emmanuel Levinas and Knud Eljer Lgstrup. The paper discusses the degree to which the (...) ethical demands for trust and public trust have been established and maintained in the three national population genomics projects. (shrink)
Biological studies have demonstrated that it is possible to slow the ageing process and extend lifespan in a wide variety of organisms, perhaps including humans. Making use of the findings of these studies, this article examines two problems concerning the effect of life extension on population size and welfare. The first—the problem of overpopulation—is that as a result of life extension too many people will co-exist at the same time, resulting in decreases in average welfare. The second—the problem of (...) underpopulation—is that life extension will result in too few people existing across time, resulting in decreases in total welfare. I argue that overpopulation is highly unlikely to result from technologies that slow ageing. Moreover, I claim that the problem of underpopulation relies on claims about life extension that are false in the case of life extension by slowed ageing. The upshot of these arguments is that the population problems discussed provide scant reason to oppose life extension by slowed ageing. (shrink)
In what follows, I argue that the semantic approach to scientific theories fails as a means to present the Wright—Fisher formalism (WFF) of population genetics. I offer an account of what population geneticist understand insofar as they understand the WFF, a variation on Lloyd's view that population genetics can be understood as a family of models of mid-level generality.
This paper focuses on the relations between population ethics and metaethics. Population ethics gives rise to well-known paradoxes, such as the paradox of mere addition. After presenting a version of this paradox, it is argued that a different way to dismantle it might be by considering it as a way to change our standard view of justification in moral theory. Two possible views are considered: a non-cognitivist approach to justification and to the explanation of inconsistency in morals; Parfit's (...) suggestion that certain paradoxes might be «quarantined» without shaking our confidence in moral theories encapsulating them. (shrink)
This paper demonstrates that the property of Replication Invariance, generally considered to be an innocuous requirement for the extension of fixed-population poverty comparisons to variable-population contexts, is incompatible with other plausible variable- and fixed-population axioms. This fact raises questions about what constitutes an appropriate headcount assessment of poverty, in terms of whether one should focus on the proportion, or the absolute numbers, of the population in poverty. This observation, in turn, has important implications for tracking poverty (...) and setting targets for its reduction or elimination. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to further develop van Fraassen’s diagnosis, expanding a previous analysis of the fundamental law of classical genetics and the status of the so-called ‘Mendel’s laws’.6 According to this diagnosis the Hardy-Weinberg law: 1) cannot be considered as axiom (or fundamental law) for classical population genetics, since it is a law that describes an equilibrium that 2) holds only under certain special conditions, and 3) only determines a subclass of models, 4) whose generalized form (...) (and fundamental law) being shading off into logical vacuity, and 5) more complex variants of the fundamental law (and of the Hardy-Weinberg law) can be “deduced” for more realistic assumptions. In order to achieve this, I will use notions of the structuralist view of theories, a version that is related to but different from that of van Fraassen’s. These are the notions of fundamental law, specialization, and special law. Having as a background a structuralist reconstruction of classical population genetics, I will show why the Hardy-Weinberg law should not be in fact considered the fundamental law of such a theory, but a special law (and not even a “terminal” specialization, i.e. a “non-terminal” specialization). (shrink)
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 than is commonly thought. In this first part, I will argue that Mayr's dichotomy was based on two distinct type/population contrasts that had been articulated much earlier by George Gaylord Simpson and Theodosius Dobzhansky. Their distinctions made eminent sense in their own, isolated contexts. In the second part, I will show how Mayr conflated these type/population distinctions and blended in some of his own, unrelated concerns with ‘types’ of a rather different sort. Although Mayr told his early critics that he was merely making “a temporary oversimplification,” he ended up burdening the history and philosophy of biology with a troubled dichotomy. (shrink)
Many of the major self-determination movements of the 20th and early 21st Centuries did not go smoothly, but resulted in forced or semi-forced transfers of groups of people from one country to another. Forced population transfers are not, of course, supported by major theorists of self-determination and secession. However, the problems that make population transfers extremely common in actual cases of self-determination and secession, are not squarely faced in many theories of self-determination. And, I shall argue, certain leading (...) theories of self-determination and secession would make population transfers almost inevitable in practice, even if not called for or sanctioned in theory. This is a major stumbling block for any attempt to move from an abstract account of self-determination towards a working theory. In this paper I take a first step towards addressing this problem. I shall show how any approach to dealing with secession, including “primary rights” accounts, “remedial rights only” accounts, and even “consensual” accounts, must be able to deal with the inevitable problem of population transfers, if it is to be a complete and plausible theory. I shall also show how population transfers, to the extent that we can always expect them to take place, can be made as just as possible, in light of any approach to the problem of secession. I will not here attempt to adjudicate between different approaches to secession and self-determination. To that extent, my argument may be seen as a friendly addition to all of the above approaches, showing how they may try to meet an objection which they have not yet faced. (shrink)
This paper traces changes in the dominant paradigm of Serbian demography that took palace in the context of major socio-political changes during the late twentieth century. The changes are traced both in the realm of research and social policy. It is argued that demographic transition theory remained the main explanatory model but that its modified version which gives precedence to ideational vs. structural variables gained the dominant status. In the realm of social policy the ideology of family planning was replaced (...) by population policy ideology. It is further argued that alarming discourses and sharp rhetoric about population problems did not result in formulation of a system of specific measures of population policy. Thus, the author claims, demographic discourses that at the time saturated public spaces were constitutive for - gender and national -identity politics and not inconsequential for social policy. (shrink)
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 than is commonly thought. In the first part, I argued that Mayr's dichotomy was based on two distinct type/population contrasts that had been articulated much earlier by George Gaylord Simpson and Theodosius Dobzhansky. Their distinctions made eminent sense in their own, isolated contexts. In this second part, I will show how Mayr conflated these type/population distinctions and blended in some of his own, unrelated concerns with ‘types’ of a rather different sort. Although Mayr told his early critics that he was merely making “a temporary oversimplification,” he ended up burdening the history and philosophy of biology with a troubled dichotomy. (shrink)
Population ethics is defined and presented, and some of the paradoxes it encapsulates are spelled out. It is argued that the concept of the quality of a life or of a life worth living can- not be avoided if inquiry on many relevant ethical and political topics is to be pursued in a theoretically fitting mode. In particular, the article deals with the asymmetry between rea- sons for not creating unhappy lives and reasons for creating happy lives, the well-known (...) repugnant conclusion and the paradox of mere addition. (shrink)
The mechanisms of longevity have been the subject of investigations for a number of years. Although the role of genetic factors is generally acknowledged, important questions persist regarding the relative impact of environmental exposures, lifestyle characteristics, and genes. The BALSAC population register offers a unique opportunity to study longevity from an intergenerational and genealogical point of view. Individuals from the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean population who died at age 90 or older between 1950 and 1974 were selected from this database (n (...) = 576), along with a control group of individuals born in the same period who died between 50 and 75 years of age. For these subjects and controls, spouses’ ages at death and parental ages at death and at their birth were investigated using regression analysis. Genealogical reconstructions were carried out for each individual, and various analyses were performed on both groups. Both fathers’ and mothers’ mean ages at death were significantly higher among the longer-lived cases than among controls whereas spouses’ ages at death and parental ages at birth had no effect. Regression analysis confirmed the positive effect of both fathers’ and mothers’ age at death. Mean kinship coefficients for the parents’ generations displayed significant differences, indicating that kinship was higher among subjects than controls (this effect was stronger among the oldest 10% of the subjects). Frequencies and genetic contributions of ancestors were very similar for the two groups, and none of these ancestors appeared more likely to have introduced genetic variants involved in longevity patterns in this French Canadian population. (shrink)
Although the category “race” fails as a postulated natural kind, racial, ethnic, national, linguistic, religious, and other group designations might nonetheless be considered projectible insofar as they support inductive inferences in biomedicine. This article investigates what it might mean for group concepts in population genetics and genomics to be projectible and whether the projectibility of such predicates licenses the representation of their corresponding classes as natural kinds according to currently prevailing projectibility-based accounts of natural kinds. The article draws on (...) a case study from cancer genetics, specifically, breast cancer risk in Ashkenazi Jewish women. (shrink)
This note demonstrates that the property of Replication Invariance, generally considered to be an innocuous requirement for the extension of fixed-population poverty comparisons to variable- population contexts, is incompatible with other plausible variable-population axioms in the presence of specific canonical fixed-population axioms.
There has been much debate regarding when modern human cognition arose. It was previously thought that the technocomplexes and artifacts associated with a particular timeframe during the Upper Paleolithic could provide a proxy for identifying the signature of modern cognition. It now appears that this approach has underestimated the complexity of human behavior on a number of different levels. As the artifacts, once thought to be confined to Europe 40,000 years ago onwards, can now be found in other parts of (...) the world well before this date, especially in South Africa, this suggests that modern cognition arose well before this period. Moreover, the variability of the archaeological record from the time when anatomically modern humans appeared 200,000 years ago suggests cognitive factors alone are unable to explain the obvious unevenness. In this article, it will be demonstrated how neuro-cognition can be assimilated with population dynamics and the transmission of information between individuals and groups that can provide important insights as to the nature and origins of modern human cognition. (shrink)