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  Subjects -> PHILOSOPHY (Total: 762 journals)
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Biology and Philosophy
Journal Prestige (SJR): 0.713
Citation Impact (citeScore): 1
Number of Followers: 18  
 
  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 1572-8404 - ISSN (Online) 0169-3867
Published by Springer-Verlag Homepage  [2467 journals]
  • Logical fallacies persist in invasion biology and blaming the messengers
           

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      Abstract: Abstract We analyze the “Logical fallacies and reasonable debates in invasion biology: a response to Guiaşu and Tindale” article by Frank et al., and also discuss this work in the context of recent intense debates in invasion biology, and reactions by leading invasion biologists to critics of aspects of their field. While we acknowledge the attempt by Frank et al., at least in the second half of their paper, to take into account more diverse points of view about non-native species and their complex roles in ecosystems, we also find the accusations of misrepresenting invasion biology, for instance by “cherry-picking” and “constructing ‘straw people’”, directed at the Guiaşu and Tindale study to be unwarranted. Despite the sometimes harsh responses by leading invasion biologists to critics of their field, we believe that persistent and fundamental problems remain in invasion biology, and we discuss some of these problems in this article. Failing to recognize these problems, and simply dismissing or minimizing legitimate criticisms, will not advance the cause, or enhance the general appeal, of invasion biology and will prevent meaningful progress in understanding the multiple contributions non-native species can bring to various ecosystems worldwide. We recommend taking a more open-minded and pragmatic approach towards non-native species and the novel ecosystems they are an integral part of.
      PubDate: 2023-01-18
       
  • The minimal role of the higher categories in biology

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      Abstract: Abstract Talk of higher categories (ranks) like Genus and Family is ubiquitous in biology. Yet there is widespread skepticism about these categories. We can locate the source of this skepticism in the lack of “robust concepts” for these categories, robust theories of what it is to be in a certain category. A common defense of category talk is that its virtues are “just pragmatic and not theoretic”. But this strains credulity. We should suppose rather that talk of the higher categories does theoretical work. What work' The paper proposes a “minimal concept” for a category, according to which the category is at least explanatory in marking out, in a rough and ready way , a level in the hierarchy of explanatory taxa. The skepticism is exaggerated.
      PubDate: 2022-12-28
       
  • Cognitive science meets the mark of the cognitive: putting the horse
           before the cart

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      Abstract: Abstract Among those living systems, which are cognizers' Among the behaviours of, and causes of behaviour in, living systems, which are cognitive' Such questions sit at the heart of a sophisticated, ongoing debate, of which the recent papers by Corcoran et al. (2020) and Sims and Kiverstein (2021) serve as excellent examples. I argue that despite their virtues, both papers suffer from flawed conceptions of the point of the debate. This leaves their proposals ill-motivated—good answers to the wrong question. Additionally, their proposals are unfit to serve the legitimate roles for characterizations of cognition.
      PubDate: 2022-12-17
       
  • Darwin and the golden rule: how to distinguish differences of degree from
           differences of kind using mechanisms

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      Abstract: Abstract Darwin claimed that human and animal minds differ in degree but not in kind, and that ethical principles such as the Golden Rule are just an extension of thinking found in animals. Both claims are false. The best way to distinguish differences in degree from differences in kind is by identifying mechanisms that have emergent properties. Recursive thinking is an emergent capability found in humans but not in other animals. The Golden Rule and some other ethical principles such as Kant’s categorical imperative require recursion, so they constitute ethical thinking that is restricted to humans. Changes in kind have tipping points resulting from mechanisms with emergent properties.
      PubDate: 2022-12-14
       
  • Evolutionary anamnesis

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      Abstract: Abstract In the Meno, Phaedo, and Phaedrus, Plato outlines the controversial thesis of a priori knowledge that all learning is a form of recollection—anamnesis. He uses this as an argument for the immortality of the soul via reincarnation. Because of this latter claim, the thesis is widely mocked by contemporary evolutionarily-informed materialists. But we can safely reject the metaphysical claim without abandoning the insight of the epistemological one. And indeed, modern evolutionary theory can explain how learning—at least of the sort that depends on certain a priori concepts—can be a kind of recollection. Through this metaphor, natural selection is a process by which information about the world is transmitted across time. When we learn by reasoning about a priori knowledge, then, we in an important sense rely on information in our genomes—if not our souls—information acquired by the process of natural selection—if not conscious acquisition. Thinking of a priori knowledge with the metaphor of anamnesis elucidates two essential features of the relationship between epistemology and ontology. First, it emphasizes that there is necessarily a time-delay between our a priori knowledge and the universe to which it bears a relationship, if any. Second, it clarifies that a priori knowledge is knowledge that enhances reproductive fitness—which could well be because it reflects ontology faithfully, but could as easily be a kind of innate nominalism.
      PubDate: 2022-12-07
       
  • Skepticism, the critical standpoint, and the origin of birds: a partial
           critique of Havstad and Smith (2019)

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      Abstract: Abstract Havstad and Smith (2019) argue that Lakatos’ “methodology of scientific research programs” (MSRP) is a promising philosophical framework for explaining the perceived empirical success of the hypothesis that birds are maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs, and the perceived empirical failures or stagnation of alternatives to that hypothesis. These conclusions are rejected: Havstad and Smith’s account of the alternative “research programs” inadequately characterizes criticism of the hypothesis that birds are maniraptoran theropods and they neither offer sufficient modifications to MSRP to correct its known difficulties in deriving logically or empirically satisfactory criteria for the assessment and preferential selection of “research programs” from historiographical data, nor proposals to mitigate its tendency to promote confirmation bias and dogmatism. Independent flight loss, an important problem in systematic ornithology with implications for the origin of birds, provides a supplementary demonstration of how the application of MSRP in the present context would tend systematically to mislead investigations of the evolutionary history of birds by promoting an uncritical perspective. Given these difficulties, MSRP is an unacceptable philosophical framework for evaluating alternative hypotheses for the origin of birds.
      PubDate: 2022-12-07
       
  • Introduction to niches and mechanisms in ecology and evolution

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      Abstract: Abstract Niches and mechanisms are two important but contested elements in the study of organism-environment interactions. Although they are closely interrelated, with niches playing a crucial role in theorizing about ecological and evolutionary mechanisms such as niche construction, facilitation, and species invasion, philosophical discussions about each issue have been largely disconnected. This collection addresses this gap, bringing together contributions from philosophers and biologists about the niche concept, niche construction theory, and ecological and evolutionary mechanisms. In this introduction we provide some background to the collection, which arose out of two workshops organized within an interdisciplinary research consortium. We also summarize each contribution, organized roughly into three groups with considerable overlap and interrelations: niche construction and evolutionary theory, niches, and ecological and evolutionary mechanisms.
      PubDate: 2022-12-06
       
  • Dosis sola facit venenum: reconceptualising biological realism

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      Abstract: Abstract Richard Levins’s (Am Sci 54(4):421–431, 1966) paper sets a landmark for the significance of scientific model-making in biology. Colombo and Palacios (Biol Philos 36(5):1–26. 10.1007/S10539-021-09818-X, 2021) have recently built their critique of the explanatory power of the Free Energy Principle on Levins’s insight into the relationship between generality, realism, and precision. This paper addresses the issue of the plausibility of biological explanations that are grounded in the Free Energy Principle (FEP) and deals with the question of the realist fortitude of FEP’s theoretical framework. It indicates that what is required for establishing the plausibility of the explanation of a target system given a model of that system is the dosage or the harmony between the generality and accuracy of explanatory models. This would also provide a basis for seeing how scientific realism could be a viable option with respect to FEP.
      PubDate: 2022-11-11
      DOI: 10.1007/s10539-022-09884-9
       
  • What could cognition be, if not human cognition': Individuating
           cognitive abilities in the light of evolution

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      PubDate: 2022-11-10
      DOI: 10.1007/s10539-022-09880-z
       
  • Circadian clocks signal future states of affairs

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      Abstract: Abstract On receiver-based teleosemantic theories of representation, the chemical states of the circadian clocks in animal, plant and cyanobacterial cells constitute signals of future states of affairs, often the rising and setting of the sun. This signalling is much more rigid than sophisticated representational systems like human language, but it is not simple on all dimensions. In most organisms the clock regulates many different circadian rhythms. The process of entrainment ensures that the mapping between chemical states of the clock and the daily light-dark cycle is adjusted to deal with seasonal changes. In regulating anticipatory behaviour, the states of the clock look forward both to the time the behaviour is supposed to happen and the later time when the anticipated circumstances are supposed to arise. The case of the circadian clock shows that purely indicative signals can arise in very basic biological systems and brings into sharp relief the trade-offs involved in characterizing representational systems. On receiver-based teleosemantic theories, future-directed signals are not restricted to complex multicellular organisms but are ubiquitous in the biological world.
      PubDate: 2022-11-10
      DOI: 10.1007/s10539-022-09876-9
       
  • Empirical adaptationism revisited: is it testable and is it worth
           testing'

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      Abstract: Abstract Empirical adaptationism is often said to be an empirical claim about nature, which concerns the overall relative causal importance of natural selection in evolution compared with other evolutionary factors. Philosophers and biologists who have tried to clarify the meaning of empirical adaptationism usually share, explicitly or implicitly, two assumptions: (1) Empirical adaptationism is an empirical claim that is scientifically testable; (2) testing empirical adaptationism is scientifically valuable. In this article, I challenge these two assumptions and argue that both are unwarranted given how empirical adaptationism is currently formulated. I identify a series of conceptual and methodological difficulties that makes testing empirical adaptationism in a biologically non-arbitrary way virtually impossible. Moreover, I show that those in favor of testing empirical adaptationism have yet to demonstrate the distinctive value and necessity of conducing such a test. My analysis of the case of empirical adaptationism also provides reasons for scientists to reconsider the value and necessity of engaging in scientific debates involving the notion of overall relative causal importance.
      PubDate: 2022-11-10
      DOI: 10.1007/s10539-022-09879-6
       
  • Not by demography alone: Neanderthal extinction and null hypotheses in
           paleoanthropological explanation

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      Abstract: Abstract Neanderthal extinction is a matter of intense debate. It has been suggested that demography (as opposed to environment or competition) could alone provide a sufficient explanation for the phenomenon. We argue that demography cannot be a ‘stand-alone’ or ‘alternative’ explanation of token extinctions as demographic features are entangled with competitive and environmental factors, and further because demography should not be conflated with neutrality.
      PubDate: 2022-11-09
      DOI: 10.1007/s10539-022-09881-y
       
  • Has social constructionism about race outlived its usefulness'
           Perspectives from a race skeptic

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      Abstract: Abstract The phrase ‘social constructionism about race’ is so ambiguous that it is unable to convey anything very meaningful. I argue that the various versions of social constructionism about race are either false, overly broad, or better described as anti-realism about biological race. One of the central rhetorical purposes of social constructionism about race has been to serve as an alternative to biological racial realism. However, most versions of social constructionism about race are compatible with biological racial realism, and there are some race scholars who endorse both positions. Going a step further, David Reich has recently defended both social constructionism about race and racial hereditarianism. While Reich’s defense of racial hereditarianism is unconvincing, I show that most versions of social constructionism about race are indeed compatible with racial hereditarianism. I argue that we ought to replace the social constructionist “consensus” about race with the view that there are no races, only racialized groups.
      PubDate: 2022-11-08
      DOI: 10.1007/s10539-022-09883-w
       
  • Is there a need for consensus in aging biology'

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      Abstract: Abstract In a 2020 paper, 37 authors, all researchers and students in aging biology, pointed out a general lack of consensus in their field, “even on the most fundamental questions”. They evoked a “problem”, for which a solution has yet to be found. But what exactly does this lack of consensus specifically refer to and why should it be inherently problematic' Here, I would like to explore three distinct philosophical reactions when dealing with this issue. First, I will assess the extent to which this lack of consensus can be taken as evidence that science, in a sense, needs philosophy. Then, I will examine how it may be related to the particular nature of the aging phenomenon, which both science and philosophy can help describe and understand. Finally, I will show that this lack of consensus could also be considered, not as a problem, but as an opportunity to question the role of pluralism and the importance of ambiguity in science in general, and in aging biology in particular.
      PubDate: 2022-11-08
      DOI: 10.1007/s10539-022-09882-x
       
  • Computational indeterminacy and explanations in cognitive science

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      Abstract: Abstract Computational physical systems may exhibit indeterminacy of computation (IC). Their identified physical dynamics may not suffice to select a unique computational profile. We consider this phenomenon from the point of view of cognitive science and examine how computational profiles of cognitive systems are identified and justified in practice, in the light of IC. To that end, we look at the literature on the underdetermination of theory by evidence and argue that the same devices that can be successfully employed to confirm physical hypotheses can also be used to rationally single out computational profiles, notwithstanding IC.
      PubDate: 2022-11-07
      DOI: 10.1007/s10539-022-09877-8
       
  • Putting races on the ontological map: a close look at Spencer’s ‘new
           biologism’ of race

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      Abstract: Abstract In a large and impressive body of published work, Quayshawn Spencer has meticulously articulated and defended a metaphysical project aimed at resuscitating a biological conception of race—one free from many of the pitfalls of biological essentialism. If successful, such a project would be highly rewarding, since it would provide a compelling response to philosophers who have denied the genuine existence of race while avoiding the very dangers that they sought to avoid. The aim of this paper is to subject those moves to careful scrutiny and thereby appraise the prospects for a new biologism about race.
      PubDate: 2022-10-27
      DOI: 10.1007/s10539-022-09878-7
       
  • The gay gene(s)' Rethinking the concept of sexual orientation in the
           context of science

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      Abstract: Abstract I argue that scientists should adopt a sexual orientation view that includes ‘internal’ sexual orientation markers such as desire, fantasies, and attraction, plus self-identification, and that these two markers should line up. By ‘internal’ markers, I mean inner states or processes of the agent. This can be contrasted with ‘external markers’, by which I mean, behaviours of the agent. I begin by critically reviewing four genetic studies of sexual orientation that are representative of the literature. I look at how each of these studies deploy the concept of ‘sexual orientation’, and show a) that they are each using different notions, and b) that none of the notions are satisfactory. I argue that these accounts have a very limited amount of predictive and explanatory power. Following this, I outline what an account of sexual orientation that has more predictive and explanatory power might look like. I argue that this account will be one that includes internal markers and self-identification.
      PubDate: 2022-09-17
      DOI: 10.1007/s10539-022-09875-w
       
  • The argument from Evel (Knievel): daredevils and the free energy principle

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      Abstract: Abstract Much of the literature on the free energy principle (FEP) has focused on how organisms maintain homeostasis amidst a constantly changing environment. A fundamental feature of the FEP is that biological entities are “hard-wired” towards self-preservation. However, contrary to this notion, there do exist organisms that appear to seek out rather than avoid conditions that pose an elevated risk of serious injury or death, thereby jeopardizing their physiological integrity. Borrowing a term used in 1990s popular culture to refer to stunt performers like Evel Knievel, these organisms that exhibit such behavioural characteristics can be referred to as daredevils. This paper presents the case of daredevils as a challenge to the FEP’s homeostasis- and optimization-based construal of biological systems. It also introduces three possible explanatory strategies by which the FEP can account for daredevils. The broader objective of the paper is to enhance the FEP’s ability to account for a diverse range of complex behaviour.
      PubDate: 2022-09-11
      DOI: 10.1007/s10539-022-09872-z
       
  • The evolution of complex multicellularity in animals

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      Abstract: Abstract The transition to multicellularity is perhaps the best-studied of the “major evolutionary transitions”. It has occurred independently multiple times within the eukaryotes alone, and multicellular organisms comprise virtually the entirety of Earth’s macrobiota. However, the theoretical framework used to study the major evolutionary transitions does not neatly accommodate the evolution of complex multicellularity as a process distinct from the evolution of multicellularity more generally. Here, I attempt to fill this explanatory gap. I will first give an overview of research on the major evolutionary transitions, focusing on multicellularity, and demonstrate that the theoretical framework so far utilised does not provide us with sufficient conceptual tools to explain crucial phenomena that call for explanation, such as the evolution of organs and organ systems. I will then discuss our current understanding of early metazoan evolution as paradigmatically exemplifying the evolution of complex organisation in a multicellular system, specifically regarding three core processes enabling it, namely modularisation, subfunctionalisation, and integration, allowing the provision of a general account of the evolution of complex from simple multicellularity that is potentially applicable to other such cases such as the evolution of land plants. This paves the way for a revised account of major evolutionary transitions which incorporates the evolution of complex organismal traits following the evolution of minimal autonomous reproducers while marking a shift of emphasis from reproducers to organisms.
      PubDate: 2022-09-11
      DOI: 10.1007/s10539-022-09870-1
       
  • Beyond congruence: evidential integration and inferring the best
           evolutionary scenario

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      Abstract: Abstract Molecular methods have revolutionised virtually every area of biology, and metazoan phylogenetics is no exception: molecular phylogenies, molecular clocks, comparative phylogenomics, and developmental genetics have generated a plethora of molecular data spanning numerous taxa and collectively transformed our understanding of the evolutionary history of animals, often corroborating but at times opposing results of more traditional approaches. Moreover, the diversity of methods and models within molecular phylogenetics has resulted in significant disagreement among molecular phylogenies as well as between these and earlier phylogenies. How should this broad and multifaceted problem be tackled' I argue that the answer lies in integrating evidence to infer the best evolutionary scenario. I begin with an overview of recent development in early metazoan phylogenetics, followed by a discussion of key conceptual issues in phylogenetics revolving around phylogenetic evidence, theory, methodology, and interrelations thereof. I then argue that the integration of different kinds of evidence (e.g. molecular, morphological, ecological) is necessary for arriving at the best evolutionary scenario (causal explanation) rather than merely the best-fitting cladogram (statistical explanation). Finally, I discuss the prospects of this view in stimulating interdisciplinary cross-talk in early metazoan research and beyond, and challenges that need to be overcome.
      PubDate: 2022-09-10
      DOI: 10.1007/s10539-022-09867-w
       
 
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