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Trevor Pearce
University of North Carolina, Charlotte
  1. Puzzles for ZFEL, McShea and Brandon’s Zero Force Evolutionary Law.Martin Barrett, Hayley Clatterbuck, Michael Goldsby, Casey Helgeson, Brian McLoone, Trevor Pearce, Elliott Sober, Reuben Stern & Naftali Weinberger - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (5):723-735.
    In their 2010 book, Biology’s First Law, D. McShea and R. Brandon present a principle that they call ‘‘ZFEL,’’ the zero force evolutionary law. ZFEL says (roughly) that when there are no evolutionary forces acting on a population, the population’s complexity (i.e., how diverse its member organisms are) will increase. Here we develop criticisms of ZFEL and describe a different law of evolution; it says that diversity and complexity do not change when there are no evolutionary causes.
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  2.  34
    “A Great Complication of Circumstances” – Darwin and the Economy of Nature.Trevor Pearce - 2010 - Journal of the History of Biology 43 (3):493-528.
    In 1749, Linnaeus presided over the dissertation "Oeconomia Naturae," which argued that each creature plays an important and particular role in nature 's economy. This phrase should be familiar to readers of Darwin, for he claims in the Origin that "all organic beings are striving, it may be said, to seize on each place in the economy of nature." Many scholars have discussed the influence of political economy on Darwin's ideas. In this paper, I take a different tack, showing that (...)
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  3.  50
    Evolution and Constraints on Variation: Variant Specification and Range of Assessment.Trevor Pearce - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (5):739-751.
    There is still a great deal of debate over what counts as a constraint and about how to assess experimentally the relative importance of constraints and selection in evolutionary history. I will argue that the notion of a constraint on variation, and thus the selection-constraint distinction, depends on two specifications: (1) what counts as a variant -- constraints limit or bias the production of what? and (2) range of assessment -- over what range of times or conditions is the variation (...)
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  4.  49
    From 'Circumstances' to 'Environment': Herbert Spencer and the Origins of the Idea of Organism–Environment Interaction.Trevor Pearce - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (3):241-252.
    The word ‘environment’ has a history. Before the mid-nineteenth century, the idea of a singular, abstract entity—the organism—interacting with another singular, abstract entity—the environment—was virtually unknown. In this paper I trace how the idea of a plurality of external conditions or circumstances was replaced by the idea of a singular environment. The central figure behind this shift, at least in Anglo-American intellectual life, was the philosopher Herbert Spencer. I examine Spencer’s work from 1840 to 1855, demonstrating that he was exposed (...)
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  5.  55
    Convergence and Parallelism in Evolution: A Neo-Gouldian Account.Trevor Pearce - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (2):429-448.
    Determining whether a homoplastic trait is the result of convergence or parallelism is central to many of the most important contemporary discussions in biology and philosophy: the relation between evolution and development, the importance of constraints on variation, and the role of contingency in evolution. In this article, I show that two recent attempts to draw a black-or-white distinction between convergence and parallelism fail, albeit for different reasons. Nevertheless, I argue that we should not be afraid of gray areas: a (...)
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  6.  62
    Entangled Life: Organism and Environment in the Biological and Social Sciences.Gillian Barker, Eric Desjardins & Trevor Pearce (eds.) - 2014 - Springer.
    Despite the burgeoning interest in new and more complex accounts of the organism-environment dyad by biologists and philosophers, little attention has been paid in the resulting discussions to the history of these ideas and to their deployment in disciplines outside biology—especially in the social sciences. Even in biology and philosophy, there is a lack of detailed conceptual models of the organism-environment relationship. This volume is designed to fill these lacunae by providing the first multidisciplinary discussion of the topic of organism-environment (...)
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  7.  45
    Ecosystem Engineering, Experiment, and Evolution.Trevor Pearce - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (6):793-812.
    This paper argues that philosophers should pay more attention to the idea of ecosystem engineering and to the scientific literature surrounding it. Ecosystem engineering is a broad but clearly delimited concept that is less subject to many of the “it encompasses too much” criticisms that philosophers have directed at niche construction . The limitations placed on the idea of ecosystem engineering point the way to a narrower idea of niche construction. Moreover, experimental studies in the ecosystem engineering literature provide detailed (...)
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  8. The Origins and Development of the Idea of Organism-Environment Interaction.Trevor Pearce - 2014 - In Gillian Barker, Eric Desjardins & Trevor Pearce (eds.), Entangled Life: Organism and Environment in the Biological and Social Sciences. Springer.
    The idea of organism-environment interaction, at least in its modern form, dates only to the mid-nineteenth century. After sketching the origins of the organism-environment dichotomy in the work of Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer, I will chart its metaphysical and methodological influence on later scientists and philosophers such as Conwy Lloyd Morgan and John Dewey. In biology and psychology, the environment was seen as a causal agent, highlighting questions of organismic variation and plasticity. In philosophy, organism-environment interaction provided a new (...)
     
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  9.  54
    The Dialectical Biologist, Circa 1890: John Dewey and the Oxford Hegelians.Trevor Pearce - 2014 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 52 (4):747-777.
    I argue in this paper that rather than viewing John Dewey as either a historicist or a naturalist, we should see him as strange but potentially fruitful combination of both. I will demonstrate that the notion of organism-environment interaction central to Dewey’s pragmatism stems from a Hegelian approach to adaptation; his turn to biology was not necessarily a turn away from Hegel. I argue that Dewey’s account of the organism-environment relation derives from the work of Oxford Hegelians such as Edward (...)
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  10.  12
    Cheryl Misak. The American Pragmatists. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. [REVIEW]Trevor Pearce - 2014 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 4 (1):172-176.
    Most analytic philosophers, when asked about American pragmatism, simply scoff. Like Bertrand Russell, they attribute to the pragmatists the view that “we may as well believe what is most convenient” (101). Cheryl Misak’s book is a history designed to silence the scoffers—to show that pragmatism should be taken more seriously. She certainly achieves this goal, but her framing may end up exacerbating the “with us or against us” tone of conversations about the pragmatists and their account of truth.
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  11.  59
    Philosophy of Biology in the Twenty-First Century. [REVIEW]Trevor Pearce - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (1):312-315.
    Essay review of Michael Ruse (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Biology (2008).
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  12.  10
    “Protoplasm Feels”: The Role of Physiology in Charles Sanders Peirce’s Evolutionary Metaphysics.Trevor Pearce - 2018 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 8 (1):28-61.
    This essay is an attempt to explain why Charles Sanders Peirce’s evolutionary metaphysics would not have seemed strange to its original 1890s audience. Building on the pioneering work of Andrew Reynolds, I will excavate the scientific context of Peirce’s Monist articles—in particular “The Law of Mind” and “Man’s Glassy Essence,” both published in 1892—focusing on the relationship between protoplasm, evolution, and consciousness. I argue that Peirce’s discussions should be understood in the context of contemporary evolutionary and physiological speculations, many of (...)
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  13.  7
    Beth L. Eddy. Evolutionary Pragmatism and Ethics. Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2016. [REVIEW]Trevor Pearce - 2017 - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 53 (3):495-498.
    This short book is a history of what might be called the Chicago school of pragmatist evolutionary ethics. It places John Dewey and Jane Addams in their late-nineteenth-century intellectual context, emphasizing in particular how they drew on the work of Herbert Spencer, Thomas Henry Huxley, and Peter Kropotkin. Eddy suggests in her introduction that because today’s “social climate” is similar in many respects to that of the United States circa 1900, pragmatism may offer “significant insights for our situation now” (p. (...)
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  14.  27
    Meeting Report: Fourth ISHPSSB Off-Year Workshop. [REVIEW]Trevor Pearce - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (2):315-316.
    Report of the 2010 off-year workshop of ISHPSSB at the University of Western Ontario.
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  15.  8
    Naomi Beck. La Gauche Évolutionniste: Spencer Et Ses Lecteurs En France Et En Italie (Besançon: Presses Universitaires de Franche-Comté, 2014). [REVIEW]Trevor Pearce - 2016 - Isis 107 (2):418-419.
    Naomi Beck’s very readable book examines the reception of Herbert Spencer’s work among Italian and French intellectuals from 1860 to 1900, focusing on the role of biology in analyses of society and politics. Although its topic is narrow, the book is relevant to historians interested in Social Darwinism, positivism, early social science, and comparative history. It also provides a case study for scholars of the reception and transformation of ideas.
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  16.  9
    “Science Organized”: Positivism and the Metaphysical Club, 1865–1875.Trevor Pearce - 2015 - Journal of the History of Ideas 76 (3):441-465.
    In this paper, I explore the work of several positivists involved with the "Metaphysical Club" of Cambridge, MA in the early 1870s -- John Fiske, Chauncey Wright, and Francis Ellingwood Abbot. Like the logical positivists of the 1930s, these philosophers were forced to answer a key question: with so many of its traditional domains colonized by science and so many of its traditional questions dismissed as metaphysical or useless, what is left for philosophy to do? One answer they gave was (...)
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