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  1. A Framework for Philosophical Biology.Sepehr Ehsani - manuscript
    Advances in biology, at least over the past two centuries, have mostly relied on theories that were subsequently revised, expanded or eventually refuted using experimental and other means. The field of theoretical biology used to primarily provide a basis, similar to theoretical physics in the physical sciences, to rationally examine the frameworks within which biological experiments were carried out and to shed light on overlooked gaps in understanding. Today, however, theoretical biology has generally become synonymous with computational and mathematical biology. (...)
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  2. THE ROLE OF TIME IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF BIO-MATERIALS: A NOVEL INSIGHT.Varanasi Ramabrahmam - manuscript
    Various understandings and definitions of time will be reviewed. The nature and structure of time will be reviewed and the concepts of time and passage of time will be refreshed. The fundamental role played by energy and four natural forces in the actions, reactions and interactions concerning matter, anti-matter, energy in space and time will be critically analyzed. The reality how time is constructed during the construction of materials will be presented and discussed. The classical and quantum ideas in this (...)
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  3. Causal Specificity, Biological Possibility and Non-Parity About Genetic Causes.Marcel Weber - manuscript
    Several authors have used the notion of causal specificity in order to defend non-parity about genetic causes (Waters 2007, Woodward 2010, Weber 2017, forthcoming). Non-parity in this context is the idea that DNA and some other biomolecules that are often described as information-bearers by biologists play a unique role in life processes, an idea that has been challenged by Developmental Systems Theory (e.g., Oyama 2000). Indeed, it has proven to be quite difficult to state clearly what the alleged special role (...)
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  4. Causal Control: A Rationale for Causal Selection.Lauren N. Ross - 2015
    Causal selection has to do with the distinction we make between background conditions and “the” true cause or causes of some outcome of interest. A longstanding consensus in philosophy views causal selection as lacking any objective rationale and as guided, instead, by arbitrary, pragmatic, and non-scientific considerations. I argue against this position in the context of causal selection for disease traits. In this domain, causes are selected on the basis of the type of causal control they exhibit over a disease (...)
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  5. Is Evolution Fundamental When It Comes to Defining Biological Ontology?Ellen Clarke - forthcoming - In Shamik Dasgupta & Brad Westlake (eds.), Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science. Routledge.
    I argue for the usefulness of the evolutionary kind of biological individual.
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  6. Topological Explanations: An Opinionated Appraisal.Daniel Kostić - forthcoming - In I. Lawler, E. Shech & K. Khalifa (eds.), Scientific Understanding and Representation: Modeling in the Physical Sciences.
    This chapter provides a systematic overview of topological explanations in the philosophy of science literature. It does so by presenting an account of topological explanation that I (Kostić and Khalifa 2021; Kostić 2020a; 2020b; 2018) have developed in other publications and then comparing this account to other accounts of topological explanation. Finally, this appraisal is opinionated because it highlights some problems in alternative accounts of topological explanations, and also it outlines responses to some of the main criticisms raised by the (...)
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  7. Decoupling Topological Explanations From Mechanisms.Daniel Kostic & Kareem Khalifa - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science:1-39.
    We provide three innovations to recent debates about whether topological or “network” explanations are a species of mechanistic explanation. First, we more precisely characterize the requirement that all topological explanations are mechanistic explanations and show scientific practice to belie such a requirement. Second, we provide an account that unifies mechanistic and non-mechanistic topological explanations, thereby enriching both the mechanist and autonomist programs by highlighting when and where topological explanations are mechanistic. Third, we defend this view against some powerful mechanist objections. (...)
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  8. Causal Selection Versus Causal Parity in Biology: Relevant Counterfactuals and Biologically Normal Interventions.Marcel Weber - forthcoming - In C. Kenneth Waters & James Woodward (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Causal Reasoning in Biology. Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science. Vol. XXI. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
    Causal selection is the task of picking out, from a field of known causally relevant factors, some factors as elements of an explanation. The Causal Parity Thesis in the philosophy of biology challenges the usual ways of making such selections among different causes operating in a developing organism. The main target of this thesis is usually gene centrism, the doctrine that genes play some special role in ontogeny, which is often described in terms of information-bearing or programming. This paper is (...)
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  9. Control Mechanisms: Explaining the Integration and Versatility of Biological Organisms.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2022 - Adaptive Behavior.
    Living organisms act as integrated wholes to maintain themselves. Individual actions can each be explained by characterizing the mechanisms that perform the activity. But these alone do not explain how various activities are coordinated and performed versatilely. We argue that this depends on a specific type of mechanism, a control mechanism. We develop an account of control by examining several extensively studied control mechanisms operative in the bacterium E. coli. On our analysis, what distinguishes a control mechanism from other mechanisms (...)
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  10. Organization Needs Organization: Understanding Integrated Control in Living Organisms.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 93:96-106.
    Organization figures centrally in the understanding of biological systems advanced by both new mechanists and proponents of the autonomy framework. The new mechanists focus on how components of mechanisms are organized to produce a phenomenon and emphasize productive continuity between these components. The autonomy framework focuses on how the components of a biological system are organized in such a way that they contribute to the maintenance of the organisms that produce them. In this paper we analyze and compare these two (...)
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  11. Free energy: a user’s guide.Stephen Francis Mann, Ross Pain & Michael D. Kirchhoff - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (4):1-35.
    Over the last fifteen years, an ambitious explanatory framework has been proposed to unify explanations across biology and cognitive science. Active inference, whose most famous tenet is the free energy principle, has inspired excitement and confusion in equal measure. Here, we lay the ground for proper critical analysis of active inference, in three ways. First, we give simplified versions of its core mathematical models. Second, we outline the historical development of active inference and its relationship to other theoretical approaches. Third, (...)
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  12. Vitalism and Cognition in a Conscious Universe.Marco Masi - 2022 - Communicative and Integrative Biology 1 (15):121-136.
    According to the current scientific paradigm, what we call ‘life’, ‘mind’, and ‘consciousness’ are considered epiphenomenal occurrences, or emergent properties or functions of matter and energy. Science does not associate these with an inherent and distinct existence beyond a materialistic/energetic conception. ‘Life’ is a word pointing at cellular and multicellular processes forming organisms capable of specific functions and skills. ‘Mind’ is a cognitive ability emerging from a matrix of complex interactions of neuronal processes, while ‘consciousness’ is an even more elusive (...)
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  13. Natural Goodness Without Natural History.Parisa Moosavi - 2022 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research:78-100.
    Neo‐Aristotelian ethical naturalism purports to show that moral evaluation of human action and character is an evaluation of natural goodness—a kind of evaluation that applies to living things in virtue of their nature and based on their form of life. The standard neo‐Aristotelian view defines natural goodness by way of generic statements describing the natural history, or the ‘characteristic’ life, of a species. In this paper, I argue that this conception of natural goodness commits the neo‐Aristotelian view to a problematic (...)
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  14. Continuing After Species: An Afterword.Robert A. Wilson - 2022 - In John S. Wilkins, Igor Pavlinov & Frank Zachos (eds.), Species Problems and Beyond: Contemporary Issues in Philosophy and Practice. New York: Routledge. pp. 343-353.
    This afterword to Species and Beyond provides some reflections on species, with special attention to what I think the most significant developments have been in the thinking of biologists and philosophers working on species over the past 25 years, as well as some bad jokes.
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  15. An Externalist Teleology.Gunnar Babcock & Daniel W. McShea - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):8755-8780.
    Teleology has a complicated history in the biological sciences. Some have argued that Darwin’s theory has allowed biology to purge itself of teleological explanations. Others have been content to retain teleology and to treat it as metaphorical, or have sought to replace it with less problematic notions like teleonomy. And still others have tried to naturalize it in a way that distances it from the vitalism of the nineteenth century, focusing on the role that function plays in teleological explanation. No (...)
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  16. Autonomous Systems and the Place of Biology Among Sciences. Perspectives for an Epistemology of Complex Systems.Leonardo Bich - 2021 - In Gianfranco Minati (ed.), Multiplicity and Interdisciplinarity. Essays in Honor of Eliano Pessa. Springer. pp. 41-57.
    This paper discusses the epistemic status of biology from the standpoint of the systemic approach to living systems based on the notion of biological autonomy. This approach aims to provide an understanding of the distinctive character of biological systems and this paper analyses its theoretical and epistemological dimensions. The paper argues that, considered from this perspective, biological systems are examples of emergent phenomena, that the biological domain exhibits special features with respect to other domains, and that biology as a discipline (...)
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  17. Mechanism, Autonomy and Biological Explanation.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (6):1-27.
    The new mechanists and the autonomy approach both aim to account for how biological phenomena are explained. One identifies appeals to how components of a mechanism are organized so that their activities produce a phenomenon. The other directs attention towards the whole organism and focuses on how it achieves self-maintenance. This paper discusses challenges each confronts and how each could benefit from collaboration with the other: the new mechanistic framework can gain by taking into account what happens outside individual mechanisms, (...)
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  18. The Beauty of What is Unfolding: Philosophy, Biology, and Laudato Si'.Louis Caruana - 2021 - Gregorianum 102 (3):617-631.
    One of the aims of the encyclical "Laudato Si’" is to help us “marvel at the manifold connections existing among creatures”, to show how we are also involved, and to motivate us thereby to care for our common home. Are there new dimensions of beauty available to us today because of recent advances in biology? In this paper I seek to answer this question by first recalling the basic criteria for beauty, as expressed by Aristotle and Aquinas, and then evaluating (...)
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  19. First Principles in the Life Sciences: The Free-Energy Principle, Organicism, and Mechanism.Matteo Colombo & Cory Wright - 2021 - Synthese 198 (14):3463–3488.
    The free-energy principle states that all systems that minimize their free energy resist a tendency to physical disintegration. Originally proposed to account for perception, learning, and action, the free-energy principle has been applied to the evolution, development, morphology, anatomy and function of the brain, and has been called a postulate, an unfalsifiable principle, a natural law, and an imperative. While it might afford a theoretical foundation for understanding the relationship between environment, life, and mind, its epistemic status is unclear. Also (...)
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  20. The Meaning of "Cause" in Genetics.Kate E. Lynch - 2021 - Combining Human Genetics and Causal Inference to Understand Human Disease and Development. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine.
    Causation has multiple distinct meanings in genetics. One reason for this is meaning slippage between two concepts of the gene: Mendelian and molecular. Another reason is that a variety of genetic methods address different kinds of causal relationships. Some genetic studies address causes of traits in individuals, which can only be assessed when single genes follow predictable inheritance patterns that reliably cause a trait. A second sense concerns the causes of trait differences within a population. Whereas some single genes can (...)
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  21. A New Role for Mathematics in Empirical Sciences.Atoosa Kasirzadeh - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (4):686-706.
    Mathematics is often taken to play one of two roles in the empirical sciences: either it represents empirical phenomena or it explains these phenomena by imposing constraints on them. This article identifies a third and distinct role that has not been fully appreciated in the literature on applicability of mathematics and may be pervasive in scientific practice. I call this the “bridging” role of mathematics, according to which mathematics acts as a connecting scheme in our explanatory reasoning about why and (...)
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  22. Glycemia Regulation: From Feedback Loops to Organizational Closure.Leonardo Bich, Matteo Mossio & Ana M. Soto - 2020 - Frontiers in Physiology 11.
    Endocrinologists apply the idea of feedback loops to explain how hormones regulate certain bodily functions such as glucose metabolism. In particular, feedback loops focus on the maintenance of the plasma concentrations of glucose within a narrow range. Here, we put forward a different, organicist perspective on the endocrine regulation of glycaemia, by relying on the pivotal concept of closure of constraints. From this perspective, biological systems are understood as organized ones, which means that they are constituted of a set of (...)
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  23. From Life-Like to Mind-Like Explanation: Natural Agency and the Cognitive Sciences.Alex Djedovic - 2020 - Dissertation, University of Toronto, St. George Campus
    This dissertation argues that cognition is a kind of natural agency. Natural agency is the capacity that certain systems have to act in accordance with their own norms. Natural agents are systems that bias their repertoires in response to affordances in the pursuit of their goals. Cognition is a special mode of this general phenomenon. Cognitive systems are agents that have the additional capacity to actively take their worlds to be certain ways, regardless of whether the world is really that (...)
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  24. Analytic Philosophy for Biomedical Research: The Imperative of Applying Yesterday's Timeless Messages to Today's Impasses.Sepehr Ehsani - 2020 - In P. Glauner & P. Plugmann (eds.), Innovative Technologies for Market Leadership - Investing in the Future. Springer. pp. 167-200.
    The mantra that "the best way to predict the future is to invent it" (attributed to the computer scientist Alan Kay) exemplifies some of the expectations from the technical and innovative sides of biomedical research at present. However, for technical advancements to make real impacts both on patient health and genuine scientific understanding, quite a number of lingering challenges facing the entire spectrum from protein biology all the way to randomized controlled trials should start to be overcome. The proposal in (...)
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  25. The Animal Sexes as Historical Explanatory Kinds.Laura Franklin-Hall - 2020 - In Shamik Dasgupta, Ravit Dotan & Brad Weslake (eds.), Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science. Routledge. pp. 177-197.
    Though biologists identify individuals as ‘male’ or ‘female’ across a broad range of animal species, the particular traits exhibited by males and females can vary tremendously. This diversity has led some to conclude that cross-animal sexes (males, or females, of whatever animal species) have “little or no explanatory power” (Dupré 1986: 447) and, thus, are not natural kinds in any traditional sense. This essay will explore considerations for and against this conclusion, ultimately arguing that the animal sexes, properly understood, are (...)
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  26. General Theory of Topological Explanations and Explanatory Asymmetry.Daniel Kostic - 2020 - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 375 (1796):1-8.
    In this paper, I present a general theory of topological explanations, and illustrate its fruitfulness by showing how it accounts for explanatory asymmetry. My argument is developed in three steps. In the first step, I show what it is for some topological property A to explain some physical or dynamical property B. Based on that, I derive three key criteria of successful topological explanations: a criterion concerning the facticity of topological explanations, i.e. what makes it true of a particular system; (...)
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  27. Dynamical Causes.Russell Meyer - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (5):1-21.
    Mechanistic explanations are often said to explain because they reveal the causal structure of the world. Conversely, dynamical models supposedly lack explanatory power because they do not describe causal structure. The only way for dynamical models to produce causal explanations is via the 3M criterion: the model must be mapped onto a mechanism. This framing of the situation has become the received view around the viability of dynamical explanation. In this paper, I argue against this position and show that dynamical (...)
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  28. On Being the Right Size, Revisited: The Problem with Engineering Metaphors in Molecular Biology.Daniel J. Nicholson - 2020 - In Sune Hannibal Holm & Maria Serban (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on the Engineering Approach in Biology: Living Machines? London, UK: pp. 40-68.
    In 1926, Haldane published an essay titled 'On Being the Right Size' in which he argued that the structure, function, and behavior of an organism are strongly conditioned by the physical forces that exert the greatest impact at the scale at which it exists. This chapter puts Haldane’s insight to work in the context of contemporary cell and molecular biology. Owing to their minuscule size, cells and molecules are subject to very different forces than macroscopic organisms. In a sense, macroscopic (...)
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  29. What Constitutes an Explanation in Biology?Angela Potochnik - 2020 - In Kostas Kampourakis & Tobias Uller (eds.), Philosophy of Science for Biologists. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    One of biology's fundamental aims is to generate understanding of the living world around—and within—us. In this chapter, I aim to provide a relatively nonpartisan discussion of the nature of explanation in biology, grounded in widely shared philosophical views about scientific explanation. But this discussion also reflects what I think is important for philosophers and biologists alike to appreciate about successful scientific explanations, so some points will be controversial, at least among philosophers. I make three main points: (1) causal relationships (...)
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  30. Mechanist Idealisation in Systems Biology.Dingmar van Eck & Cory Wright - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):1555-1575.
    This paper adds to the philosophical literature on mechanistic explanation by elaborating two related explanatory functions of idealisation in mechanistic models. The first function involves explaining the presence of structural/organizational features of mechanisms by reference to their role as difference-makers for performance requirements. The second involves tracking counterfactual dependency relations between features of mechanisms and features of mechanistic explanandum phenomena. To make these functions salient, we relate our discussion to an exemplar from systems biological research on the mechanism for countering (...)
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  31. The Use and Limitations of Null-Model-Based Hypothesis Testing.Mingjun Zhang - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (2):1-22.
    In this article I give a critical evaluation of the use and limitations of null-model-based hypothesis testing as a research strategy in the biological sciences. According to this strategy, the null model based on a randomization procedure provides an appropriate null hypothesis stating that the existence of a pattern is the result of random processes or can be expected by chance alone, and proponents of other hypotheses should first try to reject this null hypothesis in order to demonstrate their own (...)
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  32. Explaining the Behaviour of Random Ecological Networks: The Stability of the Microbiome as a Case of Integrative Pluralism.Roger Deulofeu, Javier Suárez & Alberto Pérez-Cervera - 2019 - Synthese 198 (3):2003-2025.
    Explaining the behaviour of ecosystems is one of the key challenges for the biological sciences. Since 2000, new-mechanicism has been the main model to account for the nature of scientific explanation in biology. The universality of the new-mechanist view in biology has been however put into question due to the existence of explanations that account for some biological phenomena in terms of their mathematical properties (mathematical explanations). Supporters of mathematical explanation have argued that the explanation of the behaviour of ecosystems (...)
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  33. Organic Selection and Social Heredity: The Original Baldwin Effect Revisited.Nam Le - 2019 - Artificial Life Conference Proceedings 2019 (31):515-522.
    The so-called “Baldwin Effect” has been studied for years in the fields of Artificial Life, Cognitive Science, and Evolutionary Theory across disciplines. This idea is often conflated with genetic assimilation, and has raised controversy in trans-disciplinary scientific discourse due to the many interpretations it has. This paper revisits the “Baldwin Effect” in Baldwin’s original spirit from a joint historical, theoretical and experimental approach. Social Heredity – the inheritance of cultural knowledge via non-genetic means in Baldwin’s term – is also taken (...)
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  34. Possibility Spaces and the Notion of Novelty: From Music to Biology.Maël Montévil - 2019 - Synthese 196 (11):4555-4581.
    We provide a new perspective on the relation between the space of description of an object and the appearance of novelties. One of the aims of this perspective is to facilitate the interaction between mathematics and historical sciences. The definition of novelties is paradoxical: if one can define in advance the possibles, then they are not genuinely new. By analyzing the situation in set theory, we show that defining generic (i.e., shared) and specific (i.e., individual) properties of elements of a (...)
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  35. Mechanistic Causation: Difference-Making is Enough.Stathis Psillos & Stavros Ioannidis - 2019 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 3 (38):53-75.
    In this paper we defend the view that mechanisms are underpinned by networks of difference-making relations. First, we distinguish and criticise two different kinds of arguments in favour of an activity-based understanding of mechanism: Glennan’s metaphysics- first approach and Illari and Williamson’s science-first approach. Second, we present an alternative difference-making view of mechanism and illustrate it by looking at the history of the case of scurvy prevention. We use the case of scurvy to argue that evidence for a mechanism just (...)
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  36. Mechanisms, Then and Now: From Metaphysics to Practice.Stathis Psillos & Stavros Ioannidis - 2019 - In Brigitte Falkenburg & Gregor Schiemann (eds.), Mechanistic Explanations in Physics and Beyond. Cham: Springer Nature. pp. 11-31.
    For many old and new mechanists, Mechanism is both a metaphysical position and a thesis about scientific methodology. In this paper we discuss the relation between the metaphysics of mechanisms and the role of mechanical explanation in the practice of science, by presenting and comparing the key tenets of Old and New Mechanism. First, by focusing on the case of gravity, we show how the metaphysics of Old Mechanism constrained scientific explanation, and discuss Newton’s critique of Old Mechanism. Second, we (...)
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  37. Equilibrium Explanation as Structural Non-Mechanistic Explanation: The Case Long-Term Bacterial Persistence in Human Hosts.Javier Suárez & Roger Deulofeu - 2019 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 3 (38):95-120.
    Philippe Huneman has recently questioned the widespread application of mechanistic models of scientific explanation based on the existence of structural explanations, i.e. explanations that account for the phenomenon to be explained in virtue of the mathematical properties of the system where the phenomenon obtains, rather than in terms of the mechanisms that causally produce the phenomenon. Structural explanations are very diverse, including cases like explanations in terms of bowtie structures, in terms of the topological properties of the system, or in (...)
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  38. Some Concerns Regarding Explanatory Pluralism: The Explanatory Role of Optimality Models.Gabriel Târziu - 2019 - Filozofia Nauki 28 (4):95-113.
    Optimality models are widely used in different parts of biology. Two important questions that have been asked about such models are: are they explanatory and, if so, what type of explanations do they offer? My concern in this paper is with the approach of Rice (2012, 2015) and Irvine (2015), who claim that these models provide non-causal explanations. I argue that there are serious problems with this approach and with the accounts of explanation it is intended to justify. The idea (...)
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  39. Incest, Incest Avoidance, and Attachment: Revisiting the Westermarck Effect.Robert A. Wilson - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (3):391-411.
    This article defends a version of the Westermarck Effect, integrating existing clinical, biological, and philosophical dimensions to incest avoidance. By focusing on care-based attachment in primates, my formulation of the effect suggests the power of a phylogenetic argument widely accepted by primatologists but not by cultural anthropologists. Identifying postadoption incest as a phenomenon with underexplored evidential value, the article sketches an explanatory strategy for reconciling the effect with the clinical reality of incest, concluding with an explicit argument against culture-first or (...)
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  40. When Mechanisms Are Not Enough: The Origin of Eukaryotes and Scientific Explanation.Roger Deulofeu & Javier Suárez - 2018 - In Alexander Christian, David Hommen, Gerhard Schurz & N. Retzlaff (eds.), Philosophy of Science. European Studies in Philosophy of Science, vol 9. Dordrecht, Netherlands: pp. 95-115.
    The appeal to mechanisms in scientific explanation is commonplace in contemporary philosophy of science. In short, mechanists argue that an explanation of a phenomenon consists of citing the mechanism that brings the phenomenon about. In this paper, we present an argument that challenges the universality of mechanistic explanation: in explanations of the contemporary features of the eukaryotic cell, biologists appeal to its symbiogenetic origin and therefore the notion of symbiogenesis plays the main explanatory role. We defend the notion that symbiogenesis (...)
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  41. From Tapestry to Loom: Broadening the Perspective on Values in Science.Heather Douglas - 2018 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 10 (8).
    After raising some minor philosophical points about Kevin Elliott’s A Tapestry of Values (2017), I argue that we should expand on the themes raised in the book and that philosophers of science need to pay as much attention to the loom of science (i.e., the institutional structures which guide the pursuit of science) as the tapestry of science. The loom of science includes such institutional aspects as patents, funding sources, and evaluation regimes that shape how science gets pursued, and that (...)
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  42. How to Be a Function Pluralist.Justin Garson - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1101-1122.
    I distinguish two forms of pluralism about biological functions, between-discipline pluralism and within-discipline pluralism. Between-discipline pluralism holds that different theories of function are appropriate for different subdisciplines of biology and psychology. I provide reasons for rejecting this view. Instead, I recommend within-discipline pluralism, which emphasizes the plurality of function concepts at play within any given subdiscipline of biology and psychology.
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  43. Mechanisms in Practice: A Methodological Approach.Stavros Ioannidis & Stathis Psillos - 2018 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 24 (5):1177-1183.
    In this paper we offer a minimal characterisation of the concept of mechanism in biomedicine, according to which a mechanism is a theoretically described causal pathway. We argue that this conceptionan be drawn from scientific practice, as illustrated by how a central biological and biomedical mechanism, the mechanism of apoptosis, was first identified and characterised. We will use the example of cytological and biochemical theoretical descriptions of the mechanism of apoptosis to draw lessons about the meaning of the concept of (...)
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  44. Minimal Structure Explanations, Scientific Understanding and Explanatory Depth.Daniel Kostić - 2018 - Perspectives on Science (1):48-67.
    In this paper, I outline a heuristic for thinking about the relation between explanation and understanding that can be used to capture various levels of “intimacy”, between them. I argue that the level of complexity in the structure of explanation is inversely proportional to the level of intimacy between explanation and understanding, i.e. the more complexity the less intimacy. I further argue that the level of complexity in the structure of explanation also affects the explanatory depth in a similar way (...)
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  45. How-Possibly Explanation in Biology: Lessons From Wilhelm His’s ‘Simple Experiments’ Models.Christopher Pearson - 2018 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 10 (4).
    A common view of how-possibly explanations in biology treats them as explanatorily incomplete. In addition to this interpretation of how-possibly explanation, I argue that there is another interpretation, one which features what I term “explanatory strategies.” This strategy-centered interpretation of how-possibly explanation centers on there being a different explanatory context within which how-possibly explanations are offered. I contend that, in conditions where this strategy context is recognized, how-possibly explanations can be understood as complete explanations. I defend this alternative interpretation by (...)
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  46. When Ecology and Philosophy Meet: Constructing Explanation and Assessing Understanding in Scientific Practice.Luana Poliseli - 2018 - Dissertation, Federal University of Bahia
    Philosophy of Science in Practice (PoSiP) has the “practice of science” as its object of research. Notwithstanding, it does not possess yet any general or specific methodology in order to achieve its goal. Instead of sticking to one protocol, PoSiP takes advantage of a set of approaches from different fields. This thesis takes as a starting point a collaborative and interdisciplinary research between two Ph.D. students from distinct areas: ecology and philosophy. This collaboration showed how a scientist could benefit from (...)
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  47. Merleau-Ponty’s Implicit Critique of the New Mechanists.Benjamin Sheredos - 2018 - Synthese (Suppl 9):1-25.
    I argue (1) that what (ontic) New Mechanistic philosophers of science call mechanisms would be material Gestalten, and (2) that Merleau-Ponty’s engagement with Gestalt theory can help us frame a standing challenge against ontic conceptions of mechanisms. In short, until the (ontic) New Mechanist can provide us with a plausible account of the organization of mechanisms as an objective feature of mind-independent ontic structures in the world which we might discover – and no ontic Mechanist has done so – it (...)
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  48. Individuality and Aggregativity.Stéphane Chauvier - 2017 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 9 (11).
    Why is there a specific problem with biological individuality? Because the living realm contains a wide range of exotic particular concrete entities that do not easily match our ordinary concept of an individual. Slime moulds, dandelions, siphonophores are among the Odd Entities that excite the ontological zeal of the philosophers of biology. Most of these philosophers, however, seem to believe that these Odd Cases oblige us to refine or revise our common concept of an individual. They think, explicitly or tacitly, (...)
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  49. Innateness as Genetic Adaptation: Lorenz Redivivus (and Revised).Nathan Cofnas - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (4):559-580.
    In 1965, Konrad Lorenz grounded the innate–acquired distinction in what he believed were the only two possible sources of information that can underlie adaptedness: phylogenetic and individual experience. Phylogenetic experience accumulates in the genome by the process of natural selection. Individual experience is acquired ontogenetically through interacting with the environment during the organism’s lifetime. According to Lorenz, the adaptive information underlying innate traits is stored in the genome. Lorenz erred in arguing that genetic adaptation is the only means of accumulating (...)
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  50. Explanatory Pluralism: An Unrewarding Prediction Error for Free Energy Theorists.Matteo Colombo & Cory Wright - 2017 - Brain and Cognition 112:3–12.
    Courtesy of its free energy formulation, the hierarchical predictive processing theory of the brain (PTB) is often claimed to be a grand unifying theory. To test this claim, we examine a central case: activity of mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic (DA) systems. After reviewing the three most prominent hypotheses of DA activity—the anhedonia, incentive salience, and reward prediction error hypotheses—we conclude that the evidence currently vindicates explanatory pluralism. This vindication implies that the grand unifying claims of advocates of PTB are unwarranted. More generally, (...)
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