According to Philip Kitcher, scientific unification is achieved via the derivation of numerous scientific statements from economies of argument schemata. I demonstrate that the unification of selection phenomena across domains in which it is claimed to occur--evolutionary biology, immunology and, speculatively, neurobiology--is unattainable on Kitcher's view. I then introduce an alternative method for rendering the desired unification based on the concept of a mechanism schema. I conclude that the gain in unification provided by the alternative account suggests that Kitcher's view (...) is defective. (shrink)
Recently, a number of philosophers of biology have endorsed views about random drift that, we will argue, rest on an implicit assumption that the meaning of concepts such as drift can be understood through an examination of the mathematical models in which drift appears. They also seem to implicitly assume that ontological questions about the causality of terms appearing in the models can be gleaned from the models alone. We will question these general assumptions by showing how the same equation (...) — the simple 2 = p2 + 2pq + q2 — can be given radically different interpretations, one of which is a physical, causal process and one of which is not. This shows that mathematical models on their own yield neither interpretations nor ontological conclusions. Instead, we argue that these issues can only be resolved by considering the phenomena that the models were originally designed to represent and the phenomena to which the models are currently applied. When one does take those factors into account, starting with the motivation for Sewall Wright’s and R.A. Fisher’s early drift models and ending with contemporary applications, a very different picture of the concept of drift emerges. On this view, drift is a term for a set of physical processes, namely, indiscriminate sampling processes. (shrink)
: This paper explores the calibration of laboratory models in population genetics as an experimental strategy for justifying experimental results and claims based upon them following Franklin (1986, 1990) and Rudge (1996, 1998). The analysis provided undermines Coyne et al.'s (1997) critique of Wade and Goodnight's (1991) experimental study of Wright's (1931, 1932) Shifting Balance Theory. The essay concludes by further demonstrating how this analysis bears on Diamond's (1986) claims regarding the weakness of laboratory experiments as evidence, and further how (...) the calibration strategy fits within Lloyd's (1987, 1988) account of the confirmation of ecological and evolutionary models. (shrink)
This paper considers recent heated debates led by Jerry A. Coyne andMichael J. Wade on issues stemming from the 1929–1962 R.A. Fisher-Sewall Wrightcontroversy in population genetics. William B. Provine once remarked that theFisher-Wright controversy is central, fundamental, and very influential.Indeed,it is also persistent. The argumentative structure of therecent (1997–2000) debates is analyzed with the aim of eliminating a logicalconflict in them, viz., that the two sides in the debates havedifferent aims and that, as such, they are talking past each other. (...) Given aphilosophical analysis of the argumentative structure of the debates,suggestions supportive of Wade's work on the debate are made that areaimed, modestly, at putting the persistent Fisher-Wright controversy on thecourse to resolution. (shrink)
Charles Darwin was one of the ﬁrst to propose a uniﬁed framework with which to understand human and animal behavior. The foundation of Darwin’s framework is his theory of descent with modiﬁcation. What Darwin was convinced that theory allowed him to say about human and animal behavior is exempliﬁed in the ‘continuity thesis.’ As Darwin put it, ‘there is a much wider interval in mental power between one of the lowest ﬁshes, as a lamprey or lancelet, and one of the (...) higher apes, than between an ape and a man; yet this interval is ﬁlled up by numberless gradations’ (Darwin 1871 : 453). Darwin’s continuity thesis is the foundation of contemporary studies of animal behavior; it is, along with contemporary evolutionary theory, what uniﬁes the ﬁeld of animal behavior. (shrink)
: Where there are cases of underdetermination in scientific controversies, such as the case of the molecular clock, scientists may direct the course and terms of dispute by playing off the multidimensional framework of theory evaluation. This is because assessment strategies themselves are underdetermined. Within the framework of assessment, there are a variety of trade-offs between different strategies as well as shifting emphases as specific strategies are given more or less weight in assessment situations. When a strategy is underdetermined, scientists (...) can change the dynamics of a controversy by making assessments using different combinations of evaluation strategies and/or weighting whatever strategies are in play in different ways. Following an underdetermination strategy does not end or resolve a scientific dispute. Consequently, manipulating underdetermination is a feature of controversy dynamics and not controversy closure. (shrink)
Population genetics attempts to measure the influence of the causes of evolution, viz., mutation, migration, natural selection, and random genetic drift, by understanding the way those causes change the genetics of populations. But how does it accomplish this goal? After a short introduction, we begin in section (2) with a brief historical outline of the origins of population genetics. In section (3), we sketch the model theoretic structure of population genetics, providing the flavor of the ways in which population genetics (...) theory might be understood as incorporating causes. In sections (4) and (5) we discuss two specific problems concerning the relationship between population genetics and evolutionary causes, viz., the problem of conceptually distinguishing natural selection from random genetic drift, and the problem of interpreting fitness. In section (6), we briefly discuss the methodology and key epistemological problems faced by population geneticists in uncovering the causes of evolution. Section (7) of the essay contains concluding remarks. (shrink)
Some people believe that there is an “explanatory gap” between the facts of physics and certain other facts about the world—for example, facts about consciousness. The gap is presented as a challenge to any thoroughgoing naturalism or physicalism. We believe that advocates of the explanatory gap have some reasonable expectations that cannot be merely dismissed. We also believe that naturalistic thinkers have the resources to close the explanatory gap, but that they have not adequately explained how and why these resources (...) work. In this paper we isolate the legitimate explanatory demands in the gap reasoning, as it is defended by Chalmers and Jackson . We then argue that these demands can be met. Our solution involves a novel proposal for understanding the relationship between theories, explanations, and scientific identities. (shrink)
This paper explores whether natural selection, a putative evolutionary mechanism, and a main one at that, can be characterized on either of the two dominant conceptions of mechanism, due to Glennan and the team of Machamer, Darden, and Craver, that constitute the “new mechanistic philosophy.” The results of the analysis are that neither of the dominant conceptions of mechanism adequately captures natural selection. Nevertheless, the new mechanistic philosophy possesses the resources for an understanding of natural selection under the rubric.
In a small handful of papers in theoretical population genetics, John Gillespie (2000a, 2000b, 2001) argues that a new stochastic process he calls "genetic draft" is evolutionarily more significant than genetic drift. This case study of chance in evolution explores Gillespie's proposed stochastic evolutionary force and sketches the implications of Gillespie's argument for philosophers' explorations of genetic drift.
Sewall Wright's adaptive landscape is the most influential heuristic in evolutionary biology. Wright's biographer, Provine, criticized Wright's adaptive landscape, claiming that its heuristic value is dubious because of deep flaws. Ruse has defended Wright against Provine. Ruse claims Provine has not shown Wright's use of the landscape is flawed, and that, even if it were, it is heuristically valuable. I argue that both Provine's and Ruse's analyses of the adaptive landscape are defective and suggest a more adequate understanding of it.
During his first decade on the national political stage , Robert A. Taft contributed to a lively “Old Right” conservative critique of the New Deal’s efforts to achieve economic recovery, promote sustainable growth, and convert to a postwar peacetime economy. This paper examines the senator’s market rhetoric—the ideas on the market, entrepreneurship, and the role of the state that he employed in political arguments after 1935—to understand the foundation of his libertarian brand of conservatism. The following article argues that (...) Taft fused Gilded Age evolutionary naturalism with the Republican Party’s tradition of economic nationalism in order to refute Franklin Roosevelt’s statist liberalism. In particular, he asserted that extra-human natural laws governed the market; that, in the absence of federal interference, it operated flawlessly; that small-business entrepreneurs, not corporations or public enterprise, were the agents of progress; and that the federal government should facilitate, not hinder, entrepreneurial enterprise. (shrink)
We critique a series of recent papers in which Reidenbach and Robin developed a multidimensional ethics scale. Our critique raises four problems for the scale. First, it is not clear what the scale measures. Second, the semantic differential items used in the scale seem problematic. Third, the scale omits several important ethical rationales. Finally, no caveats accompany the scale to alert managers about its proper and improper use.
I argue that bureaucracies, as described by Max Weber, have essential characteristics that clash with basic educational values. On the one hand, bureaucracies, because of their divisions of labor, inevitably narrow all those who participate. Bureaucracies also, because of the need for impartiality, inevitably dehumanize all who participate. On the other hand, education aims to broaden and humanize those who participate in it. This tension between bureaucracy and education makes bureaucracy an unsuitable mechanism for delivering an education. Bureaucracies are often (...) the best ways to accomplish large tasks involving many people; however, the task of educating all humanity is not one of those tasks. Problems in education can only be exacerbated by “fixing” the bureaucracy, because efficiency, the greatest bureaucratic virtue, is harmful to education. While I offer no solution, I share some thoughts about how a humanizing, broadening, and suitably inefficient education might look. (shrink)
This is a review of the book Cultivating Original Enlightenment: Wŏnhyo's Exposition of the Vajrasamādhi-Sūtra, by Robert E. Buswell, Jr., published by the Univeristy of Hawaii Press. This volume, the first to be published in the Collected Works of Wŏnhyo series, contains the translation of a single text by Wŏnhyo, the Kŭmgang Sammaegyŏng Non.