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Rachael Louise Brown
Australian National University
  1. What Evolvability Really Is.Rachael L. Brown - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (3):axt014.
    In recent years, the concept of evolvability has been gaining in prominence both within evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) and the broader field of evolutionary biology. Despite this, there remains considerable disagreement about what evolvability is. This article offers a solution to this problem. I argue that, in focusing too closely on the role played by evolvability as an explanandum in evo-devo, existing philosophical attempts to clarify the evolvability concept have been overly narrow. Within evolutionary biology more broadly, evolvability offers a (...)
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  2.  20
    What Evolvability Really Is.Rachael L. Brown - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (3):549-572.
  3. Identifying Behavioral Novelty.Rachael L. Brown - 2014 - Biological Theory 9 (2):135-148.
    Although there is no in-principle impediment to an EvoDevo of behavior, such an endeavor is not as straightforward as one might think; many of the key terms and concepts used in EvoDevo are tailored to suit its traditional focus on morphology, and are consequently difficult to apply to behavior. In this light, the application of the EvoDevo conceptual toolkit to the behavioral domain requires the establishment of a set of tractable concepts that are readily applicable to behavioral characters. Here, I (...)
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  4.  6
    Is Cultural Evolution Always Fast? Challenging the Idea That Cognitive Gadgets Would Be Capable of Rapid and Adaptive Evolution.Rachael L. Brown - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):8965-8989.
    Against the background of “arms race” style competitive explanations for complex human cognition, such as the Social Intelligence Hypothesis Growing points in ethology, Cambridge University Press, pp 303–317, 1976; Jolly in Science, 10.1126/science.153.3735.501, 1966), and theories that tie complex cognition with environmental variability more broadly The evolution of intelligence, Lawrence Earlbaum and Associates, 2001), the idea that culturally inherited mechanisms for social cognition would be more capable of responding to the labile social environment is a compelling one. Whilst it is (...)
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  5.  14
    Unification at the Cost of Realism and Precision.Rachael L. Brown, Carl Brusse, Bryce Huebner & Ross Pain - 2020 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 43.
    Veissière et al. must sacrifice explanatory realism and precision in order to develop a unified formal model. Drawing on examples from cognitive archeology, we argue that this makes it difficult for them to derive the kinds of testable predictions that would allow them to resolve debates over the nature of human social cognition and cultural acquisition.
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  6. Learning, Evolvability and Exploratory Behaviour: Extending the Evolutionary Reach of Learning.Rachael L. Brown - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (6):933-955.
    Traditional accounts of the role of learning in evolution have concentrated upon its capacity as a source of fitness to individuals. In this paper I use a case study from invasive species biology—the role of conditioned taste aversion in mitigating the impact of cane toads on the native species of Northern Australia—to highlight a role for learning beyond this—as a source of evolvability to populations. This has two benefits. First, it highlights an otherwise under-appreciated role for learning in evolution that (...)
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  7.  44
    Why Development Matters.Rachael L. Brown - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (6):889-899.
    Günter Wagner’s Homology, Genes, and Evolutionary Innovation is a compelling, and empirically well-supported account of the evolution of character identity and character origination which emphasizes the importance of homology and novelty as central explananda for 21st century evolutionary biology. In this essay review, I focus on the similarities and differences between the structuralist picture of evolutionary biology advocated by Wagner, and that presented by standard evolutionary theory. First, I outline the ways in which Wagner’s genetic theory of homology diverges from (...)
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  8.  9
    The Signature-Testing Approach to Mapping Biological and Artificial Intelligences.Alex H. Taylor, Amalia P. M. Bastos, Rachael L. Brown & Colin Allen - 2022 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 26 (9):738-750.
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  9.  2
    Animal Traditions: What They Are, and Why They Matter.Rachael L. Brown - 2018 - In Kristin Andrews & Jacob Beck (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Animal Minds.
  10.  7
    Mapping Out the Landscape: A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Behavioural Innovation.Rachael L. Brown - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science:1-23.
    Transformations in the “behavioural innovativeness” of species—broadly, the capacity to generate new or novel behaviours—have been associated with significant evolutionary shifts in cognition by both philosophers and scientists. Whilst intuitively and theoretically appealing, this assumption lacks strong empirical support. One barrier being the absence of a good measure of behavioural innovation. This paper offers a solution to this problem by breaking down innovation into its components and presenting a novel multi-dimensional framework for characterising and comparing putative cases of behavioural innovation.
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  11.  5
    Correction to: Social inheritance and the social mind: Introduction to the Synthese topical collection The Cultural Evolution of Human Social Cognition.Richard Moore & Rachael L. Brown - 2022 - Synthese 200 (4):1-1.
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  12. Rethinking Behavioural Evolution.Rachael L. Brown - forthcoming - In Barker Desjardins & Pearce (eds.), Entangled Life: Organism and Environment in the Biological and Social Sciences. Springer.
  13.  4
    Coversheet for social inheritance and the social mind: Introduction to the synthese topical collection on the cultural evolution of human social cognition.Richard Moore & Rachael L. Brown - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-17.
    In this introduction to the Synthese SI: The Cultural Evolution of Human Social Cognition, we introduce some basic theoretical terms that will help readers to navigate the volume. Subsequently we describe the papers that make up the volume and draw attention to points of agreement and disagreement between the authors. We also identify a number of outstanding issues for the field of cultural evolution research. The papers in the volume can be divided into three sections: The Cultural Evolution of Mindreading, (...)
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  14.  17
    Mind the Gap: A More Evolutionarily Plausible Role for Technical Reasoning in Cumulative Technological Culture.Ross Pain & Rachael L. Brown - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):2467-2489.
    How do technologies that are too complex for any one individual to produce arise and persist in human populations? Contra prevailing views focusing on social learning, Osiurak and Reynaud argue that the primary driver for cumulative technological culture is our ability for technical reasoning. Whilst sympathetic to their overall position, we argue that two specific aspects of their account are implausible: first, that technical reasoning is unique to humans; and second, that technical reasoning is a necessary condition for the production (...)
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  15.  3
    Proximate Versus Ultimate Causation and Evo-Devo.Rachael L. Brown - 2020 - In L. Nuño de la Rosa & Gerd Muller (eds.), Evolutionary Developmental Biology. Cham.:
    Made famous by Ernst Mayr (1961), the distinction between proximate and ultimate causation in biological explanation is widely seen as a key tenet of evolutionary theory and a central organizing principle for evolutionary research. The study of immediate, individual-level mechanistic causes of development or physiology (“proximate causation”) is distinguished from the study of historical, population-level statistical causes in evolutionary biology (“ultimate causation”). Since evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) is a field that explicitly uses so-called “proximate” sciences such as developmental biology, morphology, (...)
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  16.  29
    Infer with Care: A Critique of the Argument From Animals.Rachael L. Brown - 2019 - Mind and Language 34 (1):21-36.
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  17.  28
    A Clear-Eyed Defense of Philosophy of Biology.Rachael L. Brown - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 49:63-65.
  18.  1
    Not Statistically Significant, but Still Scientific.Rachael L. Brown - 2017 - Animal Sentience 4 (16).
    Birch’s formulation is persuasive but not nuanced enough to capture at least one situation where it is reasonable to invoke the precautionary principle (PP): when we have multiple, weak, but convergent, lines of evidence that a species is sentient, but no statistically significant evidence of a single credible indicator of sentience within the order as required by BAR. I respond to the worry that if we include such cases in our framework for applying the PP, we open ourselves to the (...)
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