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  Subjects -> PHILOSOPHY (Total: 762 journals)
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History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Journal Prestige (SJR): 0.205
Number of Followers: 6  
 
  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 0391-9714 - ISSN (Online) 1742-6316
Published by Springer-Verlag Homepage  [2469 journals]
  • Organisms as subjects: Jakob von Uexküll and Adolf Portmann on the
           autonomy of living beings and anthropological difference

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      Abstract: Abstract This paper focuses on the links between Jakob von Uexküll’s theoretical biology and Adolf Portmann’s conception of organic life. Its main purpose is to show that Uexküll and Portmann not only share a view of the living being as an autonomous and holistically organized entity, but also base this view on the seminal idea of the subjectivity of the organism. In other words, the respective holistic principles securing the autonomy of the living being—the Bauplan, for Uexküll; the Innerlichkeit, for Portmann—share an essentially subjective character. Such principles, indeed, express themselves in a centrally directed and formative way; moreover, in organisms endowed with a central nervous system, they also extend their influence on the overt behavioral sphere and on the organism’s capacity to give meaning to the surrounding reality. The conclusion of the article will show how, though starting from this common background, the two authors develop divergent positions on the issue of the anthropological difference. If Portmann emphasizes the special status of the relationship between the human animal and the world, Uexküll tends to see a substantial continuity in the biosemiotic processes through which human and non-human animals constitute their species-specific worlds of experience (Umwelten).
      PubDate: 2022-08-09
       
  • A tale of two cities: emotion and reason in the formation of moral
           judgement and possible metaethical implications

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      Abstract: Abstract The project of naturalizing ethics has multiple contributions, from cognitive and moral psychology to primatology, neuroscience or evolutionary theory. One of the strategies for naturalizing ethics has been to argue that moral norms and values can be explained away if we focus on their causal history, if it is possible to offer both an ultimate and proximate causal explanation for them. In this article, I will focus on the contribution of cognitive and moral psychology as a way of offering a proximate causal explanation for moral judgments. I am mostly interested in understanding to what extent these cognitive and psychological questions have some bearing in the fields of ethics and meta-ethics. Does this research programme put at stake the contention that ethics is a manifestation of human rationality' Is it true that finding the cognitive underpinnings of some of our moral judgments vindicates some meta-ethical position, namely some kind of reductionist naturalism' In the end, I will argue that even if scientific disciplines such as cognitive psychology give us a naturalized picture of the moral agent, there seem to be no reasons to think that from a naturalized perspective of the agent capable of perceiving value it must follow the naturalization of value itself.
      PubDate: 2022-08-08
       
  • Change in the graphics of journal articles in the life sciences field:
           analysis of figures and tables in the journal “Cell”

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      Abstract: Abstract The purpose of this study is to examine how trends in the use of images in modern life science journals have changed since the spread of computer-based visual and imaging technology. To this end, a new classification system was constructed to analyze how the graphics of a scientific journal have changed over the years. The focus was on one international peer-reviewed journal in life sciences, Cell, which was founded in 1974, whereby 1725 figures and 160 tables from the research articles in Cell were sampled. The unit of classification was defined as a graphic and the figures and tables were divided into 5952 graphics. These graphics were further classified into hierarchical categories, and the data in each category were aggregated every five years. The following categories were observed: (1) data graphics, (2) explanation graphics, and (3) hybrid graphics. Data graphics increased by more than sixfold between 1974 and 2014, and some types of data graphics including mechanical reproduction images and bar charts displayed notable changes. The representation of explanatory graphics changed from hand-painted illustrations to diagrams of Bezier-curves. It is suggested that in addition to the development of experimental technologies such as fluorescent microscopy and big data analysis, continuously evolving application software for image creation and researchers’ motivation to convince reviewers and editors have influenced these changes.
      PubDate: 2022-08-02
       
  • A hapless mathematical contribution to biology

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      Abstract: Abstract This is the story, told in the light of a new analysis of historical data, of a mathematical biology problem that was explored in the 1930s in Thomas Morgan’s laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. It is one of the early developments of evolutionary genetics and quantitative phylogeny, and deals with the identification and counting of chromosomal inversions in Drosophila species from comparisons of genetic maps. A re-analysis of the data produced in the 1930s using current mathematics and computational technologies reveals how a team of biologists, with the help of a renowned mathematician and against their first intuition, came to an erroneous conclusion regarding the presence of phylogenetic signals in gene arrangements. This example illustrates two different aspects of a same piece: (1) the appearance of a mathematical in biology problem solved with the development of a combinatorial algorithm, which was unusual at the time, and (2) the role of errors in scientific activity. Also underlying is the possible influence of computational complexity in understanding the directions of research in biology.
      PubDate: 2022-08-02
       
  • Health as temporally extended: theoretical foundations and implications

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      Abstract: Abstract This paper seeks to develop a theory of health that aligns with the shift in contemporary medical practice and research toward a temporally extended epidemiological view of health. The paper describes how such a theory is at the core of life course based approaches to health, and finds theoretical grounding in recent work in the philosophy of biology promulgating a process theory of life.
      PubDate: 2022-07-28
       
  • Correction to: Temporal sociomedical approaches to intersex* bodies

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      PubDate: 2022-07-22
       
  • Laboratory animal strain mobilities: handling with care for animal
           sentience and biosecurity

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      Abstract: Abstract The global distribution of laboratory mouse strains is valued for ensuring the continuity, validity and accessibility of model organisms. Mouse strains are therefore assumed mobile and able to travel. We draw on the concept of ‘animal mobilities’ (Hodgetts and Lorimer 2019) to explain how attending to laboratory mice as living animal, commodity and scientific tool is shaping how they are transported through contemporary scientific infrastructures and communities. Our paper is framed around exploring how animal strains travel, rather than animals, as we show that it is only through understanding strain mobility that we can explain how and why live animal movement can be replaced by germinal products. The research is based on qualitative fieldwork in 2018 and 2019 that included 2 weeks ethnography and interviews with key informants involved in the movement of laboratory animals. The empirical analysis discusses practices that relate to managing biosecurity and animal welfare concerns when moving laboratory animal strains. In closing we reflect more broadly on the contemporary ‘ethico-onto-epistemological’ (Barad, 2014) entanglement that shapes who or what travels to support laboratory science data-making practices, and the intensity of care ‘tinkering’ practices (Mol and Law 2010) that facilitate the movement. We explain how a laboratory animal strain exceeds its value solely as a mobile and thus exchangeable commodity, illustrated in how values that relate to animal sentience and infection-risk supports its material transformation. Consequently, it is becoming increasingly common for non-sentient germinal products – embryos and gametes - to replace live sentient animals when being moved.
      PubDate: 2022-06-29
       
  • Medical technologies, time, and the good life

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      Abstract: Abstract Against the backdrop of emerging medical technologies that promise transgression of temporal limits, this paper aims to show the importance that an individual lifetime’s finitude and fugacity have for the question of the good life. The paper’s first section examines how the passing of an individual’s finite lifetime can be experienced negatively, and thus cause “suffering from the passing of time.” The second section is based on a sociological analysis within the conceptual framework of individualization and capitalism, which characterizes many modern individualized and consumerist societies and explains how the described problem of time’s passage is particularly relevant today. The paper then proceeds to show and discuss how individuals employ various, primarily medical, enhancement-technologies like social egg freezing, anti-aging-medicine and physical- and neuro-enhancement in an attempt to overcome time’s passing. Finally, the paper seeks to explain why such attempts fail and, moreover, why it is exactly the awareness of time’s passing that can constitute a prerequisite for a good life.
      PubDate: 2022-06-09
       
  • Ross L. Jones, Anatomists of Empire: race, evolution and the Discovery of
           Human Biology in the British World, North Melbourne: australian Scholarly
           Publishing, 2020

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      PubDate: 2022-06-08
       
  • Temporal sociomedical approaches to intersex* bodies

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      Abstract: Abstract The history of the field of intersex bodies/bodies with variations of sex development (VSD) reflects the ongoing tension between sociomedical attempts to control uncertainty and reduce the duration of corporeal uncertainty by means of early diagnosis and treatment, and the embodied subjects who resist or challenge these attempts, which ultimately increase uncertainty. Based on various qualitative studies in the field of intersex, this article describes three temporal sociomedical approaches that have evolved over the last decade and aims to address the uncertainty surrounding intersex/VSD bodies. These approaches are (1) the corrective-concealing approach, which includes early surgeries and hormone therapies intended to “correct” intersex conditions and the deliberate concealment of the ambiguity and uncertainty associated with intersex conditions; (2) the preventive approach, which involves early genetic diagnostic methods aimed at regulating or preventing the recurrence of hereditary conditions under the umbrella of VSD; and (3) the wait-and-see approach, which perceives intersex bodies as natural variations and encourages parents to take time, wait, and give their children the right to bodily autonomy. A comparison of these approaches from biopolitical, phenomenological, and pragmatic perspectives reveals that time is an essential social agent in addressing and controlling uncertainty, a gatekeeper of social norms and social and physical orders, and, on the other hand, a sociopolitical agent that enables creative social change.
      PubDate: 2022-06-08
       
  • Francesca Michelini & Kristian Köchy (eds.), Jakob von Uexküll and
           philosophy: life, environments, anthropology, Abingdon: Routledge, 2020

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      PubDate: 2022-06-07
       
  • The foucauldian approach to conservation: pitfalls and genuine promises

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      Abstract: Abstract Conservation biology is a branch of ecology devoted to conserving biodiversity. Because this discipline is based on the assumption that knowledge should guide actions, it endows experts with a power that should be questioned. The work of the French philosopher Michel Foucault (1926–1984) can be seen as a relevant conceptual resource to think these aspects of conservation biology through. I critically analyse the relevance of the Foucauldian approach to conservation. I argue that Foucauldian arguments are deeply ambiguous, and therefore useless for conservation purposes, unless they are supplemented with unsaid assumptions that are, depending on the case at hand, untenable, or at least at odds with basic assumptions underlying conservation biology. In any case, the prospects of using the Foucauldian approach for conservation purposes are deeply undermined. However, the Foucauldian reasoning contains some ideas that can be important and useful for conservation purposes, if they are duly clarified.
      PubDate: 2022-06-07
       
  • David Sepkoski, Catastrophic thinking: extinction and the value of
           diversity from Darwin to the Anthropocene, Chicago: the University of
           Chicago Press, 2020

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      PubDate: 2022-06-02
      DOI: 10.1007/s40656-022-00507-w
       
  • The evolution of moral belief: support for the debunker’s causal
           premise

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      Abstract: Abstract The causal premise of the evolutionary debunking argument contends that human moral beliefs are explained by the process of natural selection. While it is universally acknowledged that such a premise is fundamental to the debunker’s case, the vast majority of philosophers focus instead on the epistemic premise that natural selection does not track moral truth and the resulting skeptical conclusion(s). Recently, however, some have begun to concentrate on the causal premise. So far, the upshot of this small but growing literature has been that the causal premise is likely false due to the seemingly persuasive evidence that our moral beliefs are in fact not the result of natural selection. In this paper, I argue that this view is mistaken. Specifically, I advocate the Innate Biases Model, which contends that there is not only compelling evidence for an evolved cognitive capacity for acquiring norms but also for the existence of an evolutionarily instilled set of cognitive biases that make it either more or less likely that we adopt certain moral beliefs.
      PubDate: 2022-06-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s40656-022-00505-y
       
  • Values in evolutionary biology: a comparison between the contemporary
           debate on organic progress and Canguilhem’s biological philosophy

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      Abstract: Abstract The aim of this paper is to make a comparison and build up a dialogue between two different philosophical approaches to values in evolutionary biology. First, I present the approach proposed by Alexander Rosenberg and Daniel McShea in their contribution to the contemporary debate on organic progress. i.e. the idea that there has been some kind of improvement concerning organisms over the history of life. Discussing organic progress raises the question of what “better” exactly means. This requires an explicit clarification on what legitimately means to speak about “good” in evolutionary biology, thus to speak about values. Second, I move on to present an approach to values that has been proposed by Georges Canguilhem in the context of a different philosophical tradition (i.e. the “continental” tradition). Canguilhem’s original theses are conceived in a Darwinian framework and clearly relate to the question of values in evolutionary biology. I shall then propose a comparison between these two heterogeneous perspectives on values by critically evaluating their common points and main differences. I will argue that both perspectives agree that the question of values in evolutionary biology takes on its full meaning with respect to the relationship between the organism and the environment. However, the framework for conceptualizing values in evolutionary biology provided by Rosenberg and McShea neglects a significant point highlighted by Canguilhem, i.e. the active role that the organism can play in evaluating the environment. In line with recent developments of biology (e.g. niche construction), this point can be easily integrated into Rosenberg and McShea’s framework. Finally, I will point out some main differences between the two perspectives relative to the specificity of Canguilhem’s biological philosophy.
      PubDate: 2022-05-25
      DOI: 10.1007/s40656-022-00493-z
       
  • The ‘good’ of extending fertility: ontology and moral reasoning in a
           biotemporal regime of reproduction

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      Abstract: Abstract Since the emergence of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), a specific set of technologies has been developed to address the problem of the ‘biological clock’. The medical extension of fertility time is accompanied by promissory narratives to help women synchronize conflicting biological and social temporalities. This possibility also has a transgressive potential by blurring one of the biological landmarks – the menopause – by which reproductive lives are organized and governed. These new ways of managing, measuring and controlling reproductive time have renewed debates on the age limits of motherhood and the moral legitimacy of medical intervention into age-related fertility decline. Building on Amir’s feminist concept of biotemporality, this paper questions what happens when the ontological foundations of age-limited motherhood are disrupted by technologies which allow fertility to be extended. It discusses the reconfigurations of the ontological boundaries of the facts of life in the light of literature on reproductive technologies and temporality. Through the Swiss experience, the paper shows how medical experts are drawn into negotiating the ontological boundaries of age-limited motherhood along the binaries of the normal/pathological and the biological/social. Questioning the purpose of medical interventions in what are seen as facts of life, they produce different configurations of moral reasoning where what is natural undergoes shifts which both reinforce the normative order and subvert it.
      PubDate: 2022-05-18
      DOI: 10.1007/s40656-022-00496-w
       
  • The emergence of temporality in attitudes towards cryo-fertility: a case
           study comparing German and Israeli social egg freezing users

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      Abstract: Abstract Assistive reproductive technologies are increasingly used to control the biology of fertility and its temporality. Combining historical, theoretical, and socio-empirical insights, this paper aims at expanding our understanding of the way temporality emerges and is negotiated in the contemporary practice of cryopreservation of reproductive materials. We first present an historical overview of the practice of cryo-fertility to indicate the co-production of technology and social constructions of temporality. We then apply a theoretical framework for analysing cryobiology and cryopreservation technologies as creating a new epistemic perspective interconnecting biology and temporality. Thereafter, we focus on the case of ‘social egg freezing’ (SEF) to present socio-empirical findings illustrating different reproductive temporalities and their connection to the social acceptance of and expectations towards the practice. SEF is a particularly interesting case as it aims to enable women to disconnect their reproductive potential from their biological rhythms. Based on 39 open interviews with Israeli and German SEF users, the cross-cultural comparative findings reveal three types of attitudes: postponing motherhood/reproductive decisions (German users); singlehood and “waiting” for a partner (Israeli and German users); and the planning of and hope for multiple children (Israeli users). For theory building, this analysis uncovers temporality formations embedded in gender and reproductive moral values; including the ‘extended present’, ‘waiting’, and ‘reproductive futurism’. We conclude by discussing the contribution of our findings by advancing the theoretical framework of ‘cryopolitics’ highlighting the theoretical implications and importance of gendered and cultural imaginaries (re)constructing medical technological innovations and related temporalities.
      PubDate: 2022-05-17
      DOI: 10.1007/s40656-022-00495-x
       
  • Figuring out what is happening: the discovery of two electrophysiological
           phenomena

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      Abstract: Abstract Research devoted to characterizing phenomena is underappreciated in philosophical accounts of scientific inquiry. This paper develops a diachronic analysis of research over 100 years that led to the recognition of two related electrophysiological phenomena, the membrane potential and the action potential. A diachronic perspective allows for reconciliation of two threads in philosophical discussions of phenomena—Hacking’s treatment of phenomena as manifest in laboratory settings and Bogen and Woodward’s construal of phenomena as regularities in the world. The diachronic analysis also reveals the epistemic tasks that contribute to establishing phenomena, including the development of appropriate investigative techniques and concepts for characterizing them.
      PubDate: 2022-05-17
      DOI: 10.1007/s40656-022-00502-1
       
  • Metaphors we Lie by: our ‘War’ against COVID-19

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      Abstract: Abstract In this paper we discuss the influence of war as a metaphor in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. After an introduction on the traditional analysis of the war metaphor, we address the social consequences of using this metaphor, a topic that has been widely debated with regard to public communication in the context of COVID-19. We pay particular attention to a theory that many intellectuals have raised: the possibility that the use of the metaphor in this context is harmful to a democratic society because it may lead citizens to accept limited civil liberties and authoritarian policies. After presenting the extensive literature on the use of the war metaphor before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, in the final section of the paper, we analyse experimental evidence of the effects of this metaphor. In the conclusion, we hint at open questions and suggest that the current evidence does not support claims of direct liberticidal influence.
      PubDate: 2022-05-12
      DOI: 10.1007/s40656-022-00501-2
       
  • The ‘Is’ and the ‘Ought’ of the Animal Organism: Hegel’s Account
           of Biological Normativity

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      Abstract: Abstract This paper investigates Hegel’s account of the animal organism as it is presented in the Philosophy of Nature, with a special focus on its normative implications. I argue that the notion of “organisation” is fundamental to Hegel’s theory of animal normativity. The paper starts by showing how a Hegelian approach takes up the scientific image of organism and assigns a basic explanatory role to the notion of “organisation” in its understanding living beings. Moving from this premise, the paper turns to the group of accounts in contemporary theoretical biology known as “organisational accounts” (OA), which offer a widely debated strategy for naturalizing teleology and normativity in organisms. As recent scholarship recognizes, these accounts explicitly rely on insights from Kant and Post-Kantianism. I make the historical and conceptual argument that Hegel’s view of the organism shares several basic commitments with OAs, especially regarding the notion of “organisational closure”. I assess the account of normativity that such accounts advance and its implications for how we approach Hegel. Finally, I argue that the notion of “organisation” is more fundamental to Hegel’s theory of animal normativity than the Aristotelian notion of “Gattung” or “species”, which by contrast appears derivative – at least in the Philosophy of Nature and the Lectures – and does not play the central role in his account maintained by some scholars.
      PubDate: 2022-04-29
      DOI: 10.1007/s40656-022-00498-8
       
 
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