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Evolution and the Levels of Selection

Critica 41 (123):162-170 (2009)

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  1. A Defining Analysis of the Life and Death Dyad: Paving the Way for an Ethical Debate.G. Boniolo & P. Paolo Di Fiore - 2008 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 33 (6):609-634.
    We discuss the meaning of “being alive” and “being dead.” Our primary aim is to pave the way for a sound and accurate ethical debate concerning these two concepts. In particular, we analyze a metabolic approach and a genetic one and discuss the reasons for their failure to constitute a good starting point for successive debates. We argue that any ethical or social discussion of topics involving life and death must introduce cultural constructs such as, on the one hand, the (...)
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  • Queller’s Separation Condition Explained and Defended.Jonathan Birch & James A. R. Marshall - 2014 - American Naturalist 184 (4):531-540.
    The theories of inclusive fitness and multilevel selection provide alternative perspectives on social evolution. The question of whether these perspectives are of equal generality remains a divisive issue. In an analysis based on the Price equation, Queller argued (by means of a principle he called the separation condition) that the two approaches are subject to the same limitations, arising from their fundamentally quantitative-genetical character. Recently, van Veelen et al. have challenged Queller’s results, using this as the basis for a broader (...)
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  • The Nature of Programmed Cell Death.Pierre M. Durand & Grant Ramsey - 2019 - Biological Theory 14 (1):30-41.
    In multicellular organisms, cells are frequently programmed to die. This makes good sense: cells that fail to, or are no longer playing important roles are eliminated. From the cell’s perspective, this also makes sense, since somatic cells in multicellular organisms require the cooperation of clonal relatives. In unicellular organisms, however, programmed cell death poses a difficult and unresolved evolutionary problem. The empirical evidence for PCD in diverse microbial taxa has spurred debates about what precisely PCD means in the case of (...)
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  • The Evolution of Failure: Explaining Cancer as an Evolutionary Process.Christopher Lean & Anya Plutynski - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (1):39-57.
    One of the major developments in cancer research in recent years has been the construction of models that treat cancer as a cellular population subject to natural selection. We expand on this idea, drawing upon multilevel selection theory. Cancer is best understood in our view from a multilevel perspective, as both a by-product of selection at other levels of organization, and as subject to selection at several levels of organization. Cancer is a by-product in two senses. First, cancer cells co-opt (...)
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  • Individuals, Groups, Fitness and Utility: Multi-Level Selection Meets Social Choice Theory.Samir Okasha - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (5):561-584.
    In models of multi-level selection, the property of Darwinian fitness is attributed to entities at more than one level of the biological hierarchy, e.g. individuals and groups. However, the relation between individual and group fitness is a controversial matter. Theorists disagree about whether group fitness should always, or ever, be defined as total (or average) individual fitness. This paper tries to shed light on the issue by drawing on work in social choice theory, and pursuing an analogy between fitness and (...)
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  • Genidentity and Biological Processes.Thomas Pradeu - 2018 - In Daniel J. Nicholson & John Dupre (eds.), Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology. Oxford University Press.
    A crucial question for a process view of life is how to identify a process and how to follow it through time. The genidentity view can contribute decisively to this project. It says that the identity through time of an entity X is given by a well-identified series of continuous states of affairs. Genidentity helps address the problem of diachronic identity in the living world. This chapter describes the centrality of the concept of genidentity for David Hull and proposes an (...)
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  • Kinds of Process and the Levels of Selection.Benjamin C. Jantzen - 2019 - Synthese 196 (6):2407-2433.
    Most attempts to answer the question of whether populations of groups can undergo natural selection focus on properties of the groups themselves rather than the dynamics of the population of groups. Those approaches to group selection that do emphasize dynamics lack an account of the relevant notion of equivalent dynamics. I show that the theory of ‘dynamical kinds’ I proposed in Jantzen :3617–3646, 2014) can be used as a framework for assessing dynamical equivalence. That theory is based upon the notion (...)
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  • Symbiosis, Lateral Function Transfer and the (Many) Saplings of Life.Frédéric Bouchard - 2010 - Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):623-641.
    One of intuitions driving the acceptance of a neat structured tree of life is the assumption that organisms and the lineages they form have somewhat stable spatial and temporal boundaries. The phenomenon of symbiosis shows us that such ‘fixist’ assumptions does not correspond to how the natural world actually works. The implications of lateral gene transfer (LGT) have been discussed elsewhere; I wish to stress a related point. I will focus on lateral function transfer (LFT) and will argue, using examples (...)
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  • I: The Meaning of the First Person Term.J. L. Bermudez - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):634-637.
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  • Intricate Ethics.E. Mason - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):621-623.
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  • Plato's Natural Philosophy: A Study of the Timaeus-Critias. [REVIEW]C. Osborne - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):610-614.
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  • Explaining the Cosmos: The Ionian Tradition of Scientific Philosophy.G. Betegh - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):607-610.
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  • Wittgenstein on the Arbitrariness of Grammar. [REVIEW]C. Panjvani - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):623-626.
    WITTGENSTEIN ON THE ARBITRARINESS OF GRAMMAR Michael N. Forster What is the nature of a conceptual scheme? Are there alternative conceptual schemes?
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  • Evolution and the Levels of Selection.P. Forber - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):626-630.
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  • Appearances of the Good: An Essay on the Nature of Practical Reason.T. Brewer - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):618-620.
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  • Two-Dimensional Semantics.P. Sutton - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):637-639.
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  • Pierre Gassendi and the Birth of Early Modern Philosophy. [REVIEW]L. M. Jorgensen - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):615-617.
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  • Okasha’s Unintended Argument for Toolbox Theorizing.C. Kenneth Waters - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (1):232-240.
    Okasha claims at the outset of his book "Evolution and the Levels of Selection" that the Price equation lays bare the fundamentals underlying all selection phenomena. However, the thoroughness of his subsequent analysis of multi-level selection theories leads him to abandon his fundamentalist commitments. At critical points he invokes cost benefit analyses that sometimes favors the Price approach and sometimes the contextual approach, sometimes favors MLS1 and sometimes MLS2. And although he doesn’t acknowledge it, even the Price approach breaks down (...)
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  • Evolutionary Perspectives on Molecular Medicine: Cancer From an Evolutionary Perspective.A. Plutynski - forthcoming - In G. Boniolo & M. J. Nathan (eds.), Philosophy of Molecular Medicine: Foundational Issues in Research and Practice. Routledge.
    There is an active research program currently underway, which treats cancer progression as an evolutionary process. This contribution investigates the ways that cancer progression is like and unlike evolution in other contexts. The aim is to take a multi-level perspective on cancer, investigating the levels at which selection may be acting, the unit or target of selection, the relative roles of selection and drift, and the idea that cancer progression may be a by-product of selection at other levels of organization.
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  • Selection Never Dominates Drift.Hayley Clatterbuck, Elliott Sober & Richard Lewontin - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (4):577-592.
    The probability that the fitter of two alleles will increase in frequency in a population goes up as the product of N (the effective population size) and s (the selection coefficient) increases. Discovering the distribution of values for this product across different alleles in different populations is a very important biological task. However, biologists often use the product Ns to define a different concept; they say that drift “dominates” selection or that drift is “stronger than” selection when Ns is much (...)
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  • Realism, Conventionalism, and Causal Decomposition in Units of Selection: Reflections on Samir Okasha’s Evolution and the Levels of Selection.Elliott Sober - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (1):221-231.
    I discuss two subjects in Samir Okasha’s excellent book, Evolution and the Levels of Selection. In consonance with Okasha’s critique of the conventionalist view of the units of selection problem, I argue that conventionalists have not attended to what realists mean by group, individual, and genic selection. In connection with Okasha’s discussion of the Price equation and contextual analysis, I discuss whether the existence of these two quantitative frameworks is a challenge to realism.
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  • Levels of Selection in Darwin’s Origin of Species.Gordon Chancellor - 2015 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 37 (2):131-157.
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  • Mapping an Expanding Territory: Computer Simulations in Evolutionary Biology.Philippe Huneman - 2014 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 36 (1):60-89.
    The pervasive use of computer simulations in the sciences brings novel epistemological issues discussed in the philosophy of science literature since about a decade. Evolutionary biology strongly relies on such simulations, and in relation to it there exists a research program (Artificial Life) that mainly studies simulations themselves. This paper addresses the specificity of computer simulations in evolutionary biology, in the context (described in Sect. 1) of a set of questions about their scope as explanations, the nature of validation processes (...)
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  • Is There Such a Thing as “Group Selection” in the Contextual Analysis Framework?Ciprian Jeler - 2015 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 36 (4):484-502.
    This paper argues that the contextual approach to natural selection does not offer an estimation of the contributions of individual and group selection to evolutionary change in multi-level selection scenarios, and that this is so because the term “group selection”, as defined by the contextual approach, does not refer to a process taking place at the group level. In the contextual analysis framework, this term simply denotes an evolutionary change that takes place due to the fact that, overall, individual types (...)
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  • Which Comes First in Major Transitions: The Behavioral Chicken, or the Evolutionary Egg?Michael Trestman - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (1):48 - 55.
    This paper takes a close look at the role of behavior in the “major transitions” in evolution—events during which inheritance and development, and therefore the process of adaptation by natural selection, are reorganized at a new level of compositional hierarchy—and at the requirements for sufficiently explaining these important events in the history of life. I argue that behavior played a crucial role in driving at least some of the major transitions. Because behavioral interactions can become stably organized in novel ways (...)
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  • Epistemic Angst: Radical Skepticism and the Groundlessness of Our Believing, by Pritchard, Duncan: Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016, Pp. Xv + 239, US$35. [REVIEW]Scott Aikin - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (4):819-822.
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  • Evolution by Natural Selection: Confidence, Evidence and the Gap, by Michaelis Michael: Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2016, Pp. Xv + 152, £61.99. [REVIEW]Pierrick Bourrat - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (4):816-819.
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  • Plant Individuality: A Solution to the Demographer’s Dilemma.Ellen Clarke - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (3):321-361.
    The problem of plant individuality is something which has vexed botanists throughout the ages, with fashion swinging back and forth from treating plants as communities of individuals (Darwin 1800 ; Braun and Stone 1853 ; Münch 1938 ) to treating them as organisms in their own right, and although the latter view has dominated mainstream thought most recently (Harper 1977 ; Cook 1985 ; Ariew and Lewontin 2004 ), a lively debate conducted mostly in Scandinavian journals proves that the issues (...)
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  • Reduction.A. Hütterman & A. C. Love - 2016 - In P. Humphries (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Science. Oxford University Press. pp. 460-484.
    Reduction and reductionism have been central philosophical topics in analytic philosophy of science for more than six decades. Together they encompass a diversity of issues from metaphysics and epistemology. This article provides an introduction to the topic that illuminates how contemporary epistemological discussions took their shape historically and limns the contours of concrete cases of reduction in specific natural sciences. The unity of science and the impulse to accomplish compositional reduction in accord with a layer-cake vision of the sciences, the (...)
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  • Evolutionary Epistemology and the Aim of Science.Darrell Patrick Rowbottom - 2010 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (2):209-225.
    Both Popper and van Fraassen have used evolutionary analogies to defend their views on the aim of science, although these are diametrically opposed. By employing Price's equation in an illustrative capacity, this paper considers which view is better supported. It shows that even if our observations and experimental results are reliable, an evolutionary analogy fails to demonstrate why conjecture and refutation should result in: (1) the isolation of true theories; (2) successive generations of theories of increasing truth-likeness; (3) empirically adequate (...)
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  • The Series, the Network, and the Tree: Changing Metaphors of Order in Nature.Olivier Rieppel - 2010 - Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):475-496.
    The history of biological systematics documents a continuing tension between classifications in terms of nested hierarchies congruent with branching diagrams (the ‘Tree of Life’) versus reticulated relations. The recognition of conflicting character distribution led to the dissolution of the scala naturae into reticulated systems, which were then transformed into phylogenetic trees by the addition of a vertical axis. The cladistic revolution in systematics resulted in a representation of phylogeny as a strictly bifurcating pattern (cladogram). Due to the ubiquity of character (...)
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  • Schaffner’s Model of Theory Reduction: Critique and Reconstruction.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (2):119-142.
    Schaffner’s model of theory reduction has played an important role in philosophy of science and philosophy of biology. Here, the model is found to be problematic because of an internal tension. Indeed, standard antireductionist external criticisms concerning reduction functions and laws in biology do not provide a full picture of the limits of Schaffner’s model. However, despite the internal tension, his model usefully highlights the importance of regulative ideals associated with the search for derivational, and embedding, deductive relations among mathematical (...)
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  • Why Reciprocal Altruism is Not a Kind of Group Selection.Grant Ramsey & Robert Brandon - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (3):385-400.
    Reciprocal altruism was originally formulated in terms of individual selection and most theorists continue to view it in this way. However, this interpretation of reciprocal altruism has been challenged by Sober and Wilson (1998). They argue that reciprocal altruism (as well as all other forms of altruism) evolves by the process of group selection. In this paper, we argue that the original interpretation of reciprocal altruism is the correct one. We accomplish this by arguing that if fitness attaches to (at (...)
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  • The Relation Between Kin and Multilevel Selection: An Approach Using Causal Graphs.Samir Okasha - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):435-470.
    Kin selection and multilevel selection are alternative approaches for studying the evolution of social behaviour, the relation between which has long been a source of controversy. Many recent theorists regard the two approaches as ultimately equivalent, on the grounds that gene frequency change can be correctly expressed using either. However, this shows only that the two are formally equivalent, not that they offer equally good causal representations of the evolutionary process. This article articulates the notion of an ‘adequate causal representation’ (...)
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  • Mating Markets: A Naturally Selected Sex Allocation Theory of Sexual Selection.Marion Blute - 2019 - Biological Theory 14 (2):103-111.
    This article utilizes three premises. There are commonly ecologically oriented, naturally selected specialized differences in frequency and/or quality as well as sexually selected differences between the sexes. Sex in the sense of coming together and going apart or going apart and coming together is trade in these naturally selected differences, i.e., there is a mating market in sexual species. While such trade is beneficial to the population as a whole, sexual competition and selection is conflict over the profits of that (...)
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  • Time and Fitness in Evolutionary Transitions in Individuality.Pierrick Bourrat - unknown
    It is striking that the concept of fitness although fundamental in evolutionary theory, still remains ambiguous. I argue here that time, although usually neglected, is an important parameter in regards to the concept of fitness. I will show some of the benefits of taking it seriously using the example of recent debates over evolutionary transitions in individuality. I start from Okasha's assertion that once an evolutionary transition in individuality is completed an ontologically new level of selection emerges from lower levels (...)
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  • Evolution of Multicellularity: Cheating Done Right.Walter Veit - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (3):34.
    For decades Darwinian processes were framed in the form of the Lewontin conditions: reproduction, variation and differential reproductive success were taken to be sufficient and necessary. Since Buss and the work of Maynard Smith and Szathmary biologists were eager to explain the major transitions from individuals to groups forming new individuals subject to Darwinian mechanisms themselves. Explanations that seek to explain the emergence of a new level of selection, however, cannot employ properties that would already have to exist on that (...)
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  • Of Human Bonding: An Essay on the Natural History of Agency.Mariam Thalos & Chrisoula Andreou - 2009 - Public Reason 1 (2).
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  • How to Read ‘Heritability’ in the Recipe Approach to Natural Selection.Pierrick Bourrat - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (4):883-903.
    There are two ways evolution by natural selection is conceptualized in the literature. One provides a ‘recipe’ for ENS incorporating three ingredients: variation, differences in fitness, and heritability. The other provides formal equations of evolutionary change and partitions out selection from other causes of evolutionary changes such as transmission biases or drift. When comparing the two approaches there seems to be a tension around the concept of heritability. A recent claim has been made that the recipe approach is flawed and (...)
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  • Levels of Selection Are Artefacts of Different Fitness Temporal Measures.Pierrick Bourrat - 2015 - Ratio 28 (1):40-50.
    In this paper I argue against the claim, recently put forward by some philosophers of biology and evolutionary biologists, that there can be two or more ontologically distinct levels of selection. I show by comparing the fitness of individuals with that of collectives of individuals in the same environment and over the same period of time – as required to decide if one or more levels of selection is acting in a population – that the selection of collectives is a (...)
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  • From Survivors to Replicators: Evolution by Natural Selection Revisited.Pierrick Bourrat - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (4):517-538.
    For evolution by natural selection to occur it is classically admitted that the three ingredients of variation, difference in fitness and heredity are necessary and sufficient. In this paper, I show using simple individual-based models, that evolution by natural selection can occur in populations of entities in which neither heredity nor reproduction are present. Furthermore, I demonstrate by complexifying these models that both reproduction and heredity are predictable Darwinian products (i.e. complex adaptations) of populations initially lacking these two properties but (...)
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  • Levels, Time and Fitness in Evolutionary Transitions in Individuality.Pierrick Bourrat - 2015 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 7 (20150505).
    Yes, fitness is the central concept of evolutionary biology, but it is an elusive concept. Almost everyone who looks at it seriously comes out in a different place.
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  • Guilt by Association?Michael Deem & Grant Ramsey - 2016 - Philosophical Psychology 29 (4):570-585.
    Recent evolutionary perspectives on guilt tend to focus on how guilt functions as a means for the individual to self-regulate behavior and as a mechanism for reinforcing cooperative tendencies. While these accounts highlight important dimensions of guilt and provide important insights into its evolutionary emergence, they pay scant attention to the large empirical literature on its maladaptive effects on individuals. This paper considers the nature of guilt, explores its biological function, and provides an evolutionary perspective on whether it is an (...)
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  • Causal Foundations of Evolutionary Genetics.Jun Otsuka - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (1):axu039.
    The causal nature of evolution is one of the central topics in the philosophy of biology. The issue concerns whether equations used in evolutionary genetics point to some causal processes or purely phenomenological patterns. To address this question the present article builds well-defined causal models that underlie standard equations in evolutionary genetics. These models are based on minimal and biologically plausible hypotheses about selection and reproduction, and generate statistics to predict evolutionary changes. The causal reconstruction of the evolutionary principles shows (...)
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  • A Teoria da Dupla Herança E a Evolução da Moralidade.Fábio Portela Lopes de Almeida & Paulo Cesar Coelho Abrantes - 2012 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 16 (1):1-32.
    A darwinian evolutionary approach can contribute to reassess philosophical problems in different fields, including ethics and moral theory. Sociobiology and evolutionary psychology address these issues by presupposing mechanisms such as kin selection and reciprocal altruism. However, these mechanisms can’t account for cooperation in the human species. Dual inheritance theory addresses human cooperation differently, by taking into account the above-mentioned classical biological mechanisms without ignoring, however, relevant knowledge produced by social scientists. According to this approach, human social psychology comprises tribal social (...)
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  • Models, Truth, and Realism.Allan Hazlett - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):630-633.
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  • Multi-Level Selection and the Issue of Environmental Homogeneity.Ciprian Jeler - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (5):651-681.
    In this paper, I identify two general positions with respect to the relationship between environment and natural selection. These positions consist in claiming that selective claims need and, respectively, need not be relativized to homogenous environments. I then show that adopting one or the other position makes a difference with respect to the way in which the effects of selection are to be measured in certain cases in which the focal population is distributed over heterogeneous environments. Moreover, I show that (...)
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  • The Hamiltonian View of Social Evolution.J. Arvid Ågren - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 68:88-93.
    Hamilton’s Rule, named after the evolutionary biologist Bill Hamilton, and the related concepts of inclusive fitness and kin selection, have been the bedrock of the study of social evolution for the past half century. In ’The Philosophy of Social Evolution’, Jonathan Birch provides a comprehensive introduction to the conceptual foundations of the Hamiltonian view of social evolution, and a passionate defence of its enduring value in face of the recent high profile criticism. In this review essay, I first outline the (...)
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  • Shifting Attention From Theory to Practice in Philosophy of Biology.C. Kenneth Waters - unknown
    Traditional approaches in philosophy of biology focus attention on biological concepts, explanations, and theories, on evidential support and inter-theoretical relations. Newer approaches shift attention from concepts to conceptual practices, from theories to practices of theorizing, and from theoretical reduction to reductive retooling. In this article, I describe the shift from theory-focused to practice-centered philosophy of science and explain how it is leading philosophers to abandon fundamentalist assumptions associated with traditional approaches in philosophy of science and to embrace scientific pluralism. This (...)
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  • Evolution of Individuality: A Case Study in the Volvocine Green Algae.Erik R. Hanschen, Dinah R. Davison, Zachariah I. Grochau-Wright & Richard E. Michod - 2017 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 9 (3).
    All disciplines must define their basic units and core processes. In evolutionary biology, the core process is natural selection and the basic unit of selection and adaptation is the individual. To operationalize the theory of natural selection we must count individuals, as they are the bearers of fitness. While canonical individuals have often been taken to be multicellular organisms, the hierarchy of life shows that new kinds of individuals have evolved. A variety of criteria have been used to define biological (...)
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