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Russell Powell
Boston University
  1.  7
    The Evolution of Moral Progress. A Biocultural Theory.Allan Buchanan & Russel Powell - 2019 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 73 (1):161-164.
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  2. Breaking Evolution's Chains: The Prospect of Deliberate Genetic Modification in Humans.Russell Powell & Allen Buchanan - 2011 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 36 (1):6-27.
    Many philosophers invoke the "wisdom of nature" in arguing for varying degrees of caution in the development and use of genetic enhancement technologies. Because they view natural selection as akin to a master engineer that creates functionally and morally optimal design, these authors tend to regard genetic intervention with suspicion. In Part II, we examine and ultimately reject the evolutionary assumptions that underlie the master engineer analogy (MEA). By highlighting the constraints on ordinary unassisted evolution, we show how intentional genetic (...)
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  3. The Limits of Evolutionary Explanations of Morality and Their Implications for Moral Progress.Allen Buchanan & Russell Powell - 2015 - Ethics 126 (1):37-67.
    Traditional conservative arguments against the possibility of moral progress relied on underevidenced assumptions about the limitations of human nature. Contemporary thinkers have attempted to fill this empirical gap in the conservative argument by appealing to evolutionary science. Such “evoconservative” arguments fail because they overstate the explanatory reach of evolutionary theory. We maintain that no adequate evolutionary explanation has been given for important features of human morality, namely cosmopolitan and other “inclusivist” moral commitments. We attribute these evolutionarily anomalous features to a (...)
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  4.  30
    Toward a Naturalistic Theory of Moral Progress.Allen Buchanan & Russell Powell - 2016 - Ethics 126 (4):983-1014.
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  5. The Evolutionary Biological Implications of Human Genetic Engineering.Russell Powell - 2012 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 37 (1):22.
    A common worry about the genetic engineering of human beings is that it will reduce human genetic diversity, creating a biological monoculture that could not only increase our susceptibility to disease but also hasten the extinction of our species. Thus far, however, the evolutionary implications of human genetic modification remain largely unexplored. In this paper, I consider whether the widespread use of genetic engineering technology is likely to narrow the present range of genetic variation, and if so, whether this would (...)
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  6.  39
    De-Moralization as Emancipation: Liberty, Progress, and the Evolution of Invalid Moral Norms.Allen Buchanan & Russell Powell - 2017 - Social Philosophy and Policy 34 (2):108-135.
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  7.  10
    Major Problems in Evolutionary Transitions: How a Metabolic Perspective Can Enrich Our Understanding of Macroevolution.Maureen A. O’Malley & Russell Powell - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (2):159-189.
    The model of major transitions in evolution devised by Maynard Smith and Szathmáry has exerted tremendous influence over evolutionary theorists. Although MTE has been criticized for inconsistently combining different types of event, its ongoing appeal lies in depicting hierarchical increases in complexity by means of evolutionary transitions in individuality. In this paper, we consider the implications of major evolutionary events overlooked by MTE and its ETI-oriented successors, specifically the biological oxygenation of Earth, and the acquisitions of mitochondria and plastids. By (...)
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  8. What's the Harm? An Evolutionary Theoretical Critique of the Precautionary Principle.Russell Powell - 2010 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 20 (2):181-206.
    The precautionary principle (“the Principle”) has been widely embraced as the new paradigm for contending with biological and environmental risk in the context of emerging technologies. Increasingly, it is being incorporated into domestic, supranational, and international legal regimes as part of a general overhaul of health and environmental regulation.1 Codifications of the Principle typically are vague, with their content intentionally left for scholars to debate, decision makers to interpret, and the courts to flesh out through case law. Generally speaking, the (...)
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  9.  94
    Convergent Evolution and the Limits of Natural Selection.Russell Powell - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):355-373.
    Stephen Jay Gould argued that replaying the “tape of life” would result in a radically different evolutionary outcome. Some biologists and philosophers, however, have pointed to convergent evolution as evidence for robust replicability in macroevolution. These authors interpret homoplasy, or the independent origination of similar biological forms, as evidence for the power of natural selection to guide form toward certain morphological attractors, notwithstanding the diversionary tendencies of drift and the constraints of phylogenetic inertia. In this paper, I consider the implications (...)
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  10. Religion as an Evolutionary Byproduct: A Critique of the Standard Model.R. Powell & S. Clarke - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (3):457-486.
    The dominant view in the cognitive science of religion (the ‘Standard Model’) is that religious belief and behaviour are not adaptive traits but rather incidental byproducts of the cognitive architecture of mind. Because evidence for the Standard Model is inconclusive, the case for it depends crucially on its alleged methodological superiority to selectionist alternatives. However, we show that the Standard Model has both methodological and evidential disadvantages when compared with selectionist alternatives. We also consider a pluralistic approach, which holds that (...)
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  11. Behaviorism and the Psychology of Language: An Historical Reassessment.R. P. Powell & A. W. Still - 1979 - Behaviorism 7 (1):71-89.
  12. Contingency and Convergence in Macroevolution: A Reply to John Beatty.Russell Powell - 2009 - Journal of Philosophy 106 (7):390-403.
  13.  13
    The Evolutionary Biological Implications of Human Genetic Engineering.R. Powell - 2012 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 37 (3):204-225.
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  14.  57
    Is Behavioural Flexibility Evidence of Cognitive Complexity? How Evolution Can Inform Comparative Cognition.Irina Mikhalevich, Russell Powell & Corina Logan - 2017 - Interface Focus 7.
    Behavioural flexibility is often treated as the gold standard of evidence for more sophisticated or complex forms of animal cognition, such as planning, metacognition and mindreading. However, the evidential link between behavioural flexibility and complex cognition has not been explicitly or systematically defended. Such a defence is particularly pressing because observed flexible behaviours can frequently be explained by putatively simpler cognitive mechanisms. This leaves complex cognition hypotheses open to ‘deflationary’ challenges that are accorded greater evidential weight precisely because they offer (...)
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  15. There is Grandeur in This View of Life: The Bio-Philosophical Implications of Convergent Evolution. [REVIEW]Russell Powell & Carlos Mariscal - 2014 - Acta Biotheoretica 62 (1):115-121.
  16.  38
    Is the Creation of Artificial Life Morally Significant?Thomas Douglas, Russell Powell & Julian Savulescu - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 44 (4b):688-696.
    In 2010, the Venter lab announced that it had created the first bacterium with an entirely synthetic genome. This was reported to be the first instance of ‘artificial life,’ and in the ethical and policy discussions that followed it was widely assumed that the creation of artificial life is in itself morally significant. We cast doubt on this assumption. First we offer an account of the creation of artificial life that distinguishes this from the derivation of organisms from existing life (...)
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  17.  37
    Is Convergence More Than an Analogy? Homoplasy and its Implications for Macroevolutionary Predictability.Russell Powell - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (4):565-578.
    A number of authors have pointed to “convergent evolution” as evidence for the central role of natural selection in shaping predictable trajectories of macroevolution. However, there are numerous conceptual and empirical difficulties that arise in broadly appealing to the frequency of homoplasy as evidence for a non-contingently constrained adaptational design space. Most important is the need to distinguish between convergent (externally constrained) and parallel (internally constrained) evolution, and to consider how the respective frequencies of these significantly different sources of homoplasy (...)
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  18.  35
    The Future of Human Evolution.Russell Powell - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1):145-175.
    There is a tendency in both scientific and humanistic disciplines to think of biological evolution in humans as significantly impeded if not completely overwhelmed by the robust cultural and technological capabilities of the species. The aim of this article is to make sense of and evaluate this claim. In Section 2 , I flesh out the argument that humans are ‘insulated’ from ordinary evolutionary mechanisms in terms of our contemporary biological understandings of phenotypic plasticity, niche construction, and cultural transmission. In (...)
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  19.  47
    In Genes We Trust: Germline Engineering, Eugenics, and the Future of the Human Genome.Russell Powell - 2015 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 40 (6):669-695.
    Liberal proponents of genetic engineering maintain that developing human germline modification technologies is morally desirable because it will result in a net improvement in human health and well-being. Skeptics of germline modification, in contrast, fear evolutionary harms that could flow from intervening in the human germline, and worry that such programs, even if well intentioned, could lead to a recapitulation of the scientifically and morally discredited projects of the old eugenics. Some bioconservatives have appealed as well to the value of (...)
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  20. Resisting Sparrow's Sexy Reductio : Selection Principles and the Social Good.Simon Rippon, Pablo Stafforini, Katrien Devolder, Russell Powell & Thomas Douglas - 2010 - American Journal of Bioethics 10 (7):16-18.
    Principles of procreative beneficence (PPBs) hold that parents have good reasons to select the child with the best life prospects. Sparrow (2010) claims that PPBs imply that we should select only female children, unlesswe attach normative significance to “normal” human capacities. We argue that this claim fails on both empirical and logical grounds. Empirically, Sparrow’s argument for greater female wellbeing rests on a selective reading of the evidence and the incorrect assumption that an advantage for females would persist even when (...)
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  21.  95
    Homology Across Inheritance Systems.Russell Powell & Nicholas Shea - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (6):781-806.
    Recent work on inheritance systems can be divided into inclusive conceptions, according to which genetic and non-genetic inheritance are both involved in the development and transmission of nearly all animal behavioral traits, and more demanding conceptions of what it takes for non-genetic resources involved in development to qualify as a distinct inheritance system. It might be thought that, if a more stringent conception is adopted, homologies could not subsist across two distinct inheritance systems. Indeed, it is commonly assumed that homology (...)
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  22. Adopting a Technological Stance Toward the Living World. Promises, Pitfalls and Perils.Russell Powell - 2015 - In Sven Ove Hansson (ed.), The Role of Technology in Science: Philosophical Perspectives. Springer Verlag.
     
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  23. Evolution, Genetic Engineering, and Human Enhancement.Russell Powell, Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu - 2012 - Philosophy and Technology 25 (4):439-458.
    There are many ways that biological theory can inform ethical discussions of genetic engineering and biomedical enhancement. In this essay, we highlight some of these potential contributions, and along the way provide a synthetic overview of the papers that comprise this special issue. We begin by comparing and contrasting genetic engineering with programs of selective breeding that led to the domestication of plants and animals, and we consider how genetic engineering differs from other contemporary biotechnologies such as embryo selection. We (...)
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  24.  19
    Organism, Machine, Artifact: The Conceptual and Normative Challenges of Synthetic Biology.Sune Holm & Russell Powell - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):627-631.
    Synthetic biology is an emerging discipline that aims to apply rational engineering principles in the design and creation of organisms that are exquisitely tailored to human ends. The creation of artificial life raises conceptual, methodological and normative challenges that are ripe for philosophical investigation. This special issue examines the defining concepts and methods of synthetic biology, details the contours of the organism–artifact distinction, situates the products of synthetic biology vis-à-vis this conceptual typology and against historical human manipulation of the living (...)
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  25.  43
    Human Nature and Respect for the Evolutionarily Given: A Comment on Lewens.Russell Powell - 2012 - Philosophy and Technology 25 (4):485-493.
    Any serious ethical discussion of the enhancement of human nature must begin with a reasonably accurate picture of the causal-historical structure of the living world. In this Comment, I show that even biologically sophisticated ethical discussions of the biomedical enhancement of species and speciel natures are susceptible to the kind of essentialistic thinking that Lewens cautions against. Furthermore, I argue that the same evolutionary and developmental considerations that compel Lewens to reject more plausible conceptions of human nature pose equally serious (...)
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  26.  23
    The Disvalue of Genetic Diversity, Or: How to Treat a Sandelian Ethos on Steroids.Russell Powell - 2015 - American Journal of Bioethics 15 (6):29-32.
  27.  28
    Highlights From This Issue: The Biomedical Enhancement of Moral Status.Russell Powell - 2013 - Journal of Medical Ethics 39 (2):65-66.
    The biomedical enhancement of human capacities has emerged as one of the most philosophically invigorating areas of contemporary bioethical research. In exploring the ethical dimensions of emerging biotechnologies and human–machine interfaces, the literature on human enhancement has made significant contributions to traditional problems in moral philosophy. One such area concerns the enhancement of cognitive capacities that bear on moral status. Could biotechnological or other forms of neurocognitive intervention result in the creation of ‘postpersons’ who possess a moral status that is (...)
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  28.  70
    Survey Article: Constitutional Democracy and the Rule of International Law: Are They Compatible?Allen Buchanan & Russell Powell - 2008 - Journal of Political Philosophy 16 (3):326-349.
  29.  35
    Sex, Lies and Gender.Irina Mikhalevich & Russell Powell - 2017 - Journal of Medical Ethics 43 (1):14-16.
    Browne 1 (this issue ) argues that what may appear to be a benevolent practice-disclosing the sex of a fetus to expecting parents who wish to know-is in fact an epistemically problematic and, as a result, ethically questionable medical practice. Browne worries that not only will the disclosure of fetal sex encourage sex-selective abortions (an issue we will not take up here), but also that it will convey a misleading and pernicious message about the relationship between sex and gender. More (...)
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  30.  57
    Highlights From This Issue.R. Powell - 2012 - Journal of Medical Ethics 38 (6):325-326.
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  31.  42
    That a State Establishment of Any Religion Claiming Divine Revelation Is Contrary to Natural Law.Ralph Austin Powell & Benedict Ashley - 2000 - Semiotics:455-469.
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  32.  10
    Crows Learn Not to Respond Under Response-Independent Reinforcement.Robert W. Powell & William A. Kelly - 1979 - Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 13 (6):397-400.
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  33.  8
    Response-Independent Reinforcement in the Crow: Failure to Obtain Autoshaping or Positive Automaintenance.Robert W. Powell, William Kelly & David Santisteban - 1975 - Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 6 (5):513-516.
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  34.  20
    Pupils' Perceptions of Foreign Language Learning at 12+: Some Gender Differences.Robert C. Powell & Julia D. Batters - 1985 - Educational Studies 11 (1):11-23.
  35.  14
    Epistemology's Minimal Cause as Basis of Science.Ralph A. Powell - 1988 - Semiotics:180-188.
  36.  12
    From Semiotic of Scientific Mechanism to Semiotic of Teleology in Nature.Ralph Powell - 1986 - Semiotics:296-305.
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  37. The Nature of Species and the Moral Significance of Their Extinction.Russell Powell - forthcoming - In Tom Beauchamp (ed.), Oxford Handbook on Ethics and Animals. Oxford University Press.
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  38.  2
    Destruction and Reconstruction in Cinematic Portrayals of Tokyo.Richard Powell - forthcoming - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique:1-22.
    Since becoming the globe’s most populous city in the early eighteenth century, Tokyo has risen, collapsed and boomed again as no other metropolis. For 300 years spectacular bursts of growth occurred against a background of earthquakes, fires and floods, until in 1923 a horrific quake wiped it out. The bombing of the rebuilt city in 1945 was deadlier than the atomic attacks on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Relative seismic and political stability after the war underpinned an economic miracle and transformed Tokyo (...)
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  39.  10
    Female Offenders and Their Guards: A Programme to Promote Moral and Ego Development of Both Groups.Robert E. Powell, Don C. Locke & Norman A. Sprinthall - 1991 - Journal of Moral Education 20 (2):191-203.
    Abstract The study was designed as a test of an especially constructed series of dilemma discussion methods for an experimental group of female offenders and their guards. The programme conducted on prison grounds, consisted of a five?month programme for the offenders and a separate ten?month programme for the staff. The results indicated that the experimental group of inmates improved on both the Defining Issues Test (DIT), an estimate of moral judgement and the Loevinger Sentence Completion Test (SCT), an estimate of (...)
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  40.  9
    A Comparison of Signaled Vs. Unsignaled Free-Operant Avoidance in Mongolian Gerbils and Domesticated Rats.Robert W. Powell, Michael D. Curley & Linda J. Palm - 1978 - Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 12 (6):415-418.
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  41.  7
    Responding Under Variable-Interval, Variable-Time, and Extinction Schedules in Pigeons and Crows.Robert W. Powell & Linda J. Palm - 1982 - Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 19 (1):55-58.
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  42.  21
    The Philosophy of Human Evolution: Contemporary Debates in Historical Context.Russell Powell - 2014 - Metascience 23 (2):285-291.
    What does human evolutionary theory reveal about the origins of human nature and the constraints it imposes on human cognition, behavior, and society? “The whole field of human evolution is pregnant with philosophical questions of great interest”, Michael Ruse concludes in the final passage of The Philosophy of Human Evolution. This engaging and eminently readable romp through the philosophical landscape of human evolution fills a significant niche in the existing literature. There are numerous scientific texts surveying historical and contemporary problems (...)
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  43.  16
    An Ethical and Prudential Argument for Prioritizing the Reduction of Parasite-Stress in the Allocation of Health Care Resources.Russell Powell, Steve Clarke & Julian Savulescu - 2012 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 35 (2):90-91.
    The link between parasite-stress and complex psychological dispositions implies that the social, political, and economic benefits likely to flow from public health interventions that reduce rates of non-zoonotic infectious disease are far greater than have traditionally been thought. We sketch a prudential and ethical argument for increasing public health resources globally and redistributing these to focus on the alleviation of parasite-stress in human populations.
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  44.  5
    Instinctive Drift in Nondomesticated Rodents.Robert W. Powell & Michael Curley - 1976 - Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 8 (3):175-178.
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  45.  6
    Highlights From This Issue.Russell Powell - 2016 - Journal of Medical Ethics 42 (3):145-146.
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  46.  4
    Further Evidence of Interaction Between Deprivation Effects and Stimulus Control of Responding: III.Robert W. Powell & Linda Palm - 1977 - Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 9 (4):307-310.
  47.  11
    Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: Food and Diet as Instigators of Bizarre and Disturbing Dreams.Tore Nielsen & Russell A. Powell - 2015 - Frontiers in Psychology 6.
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  48.  18
    Kant's Thought Interpreted Through Peirce's Categories.Ralph Austin Powell - 1984 - Semiotics:325-332.
  49.  35
    Zakat: Drawing Insights for Legal Theory and Economic Policy From Islamic Jurisprudence.Russell Powell - unknown
    The rapid development of complex income taxation and welfare systems in the 20th century may give the impression that progressive wealth redistribution systems are uniquely modern. However, religious systems provided similar mechanisms for addressing economic injustice and poverty alleviation centuries earlier. Zakat is the obligation of almsgiving and is the third pillar of Islam--a requirement for all believers. In the early development of the Islamic community, zakat was collected as a tax by the state and the funds were distributed to (...)
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  50.  14
    Dicent Signs as Signs of Mechanist Causality in a Totally Intelligible Cosmos.Ralph Austin Powell - 1990 - Semiotics:354-361.
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