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  1. Modern Synthesis is the Light of Microbial Genomics.Austin Booth, Carlos Mariscal & W. Ford Doolittle - 2016 - Annual Reviews of Microbiology 70 (1):279-297.
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  • Metascientific Views: Challenge and Opportunity for Philosophy of Biology in Practice.Emanuele Serrelli - 2017 - Acta Philosophica 26 (1):65-82.
    In this paper I take evolutionary biology as an example to reflect on the role of philosophy and on the transformations that philosophy is constantly stimulated to do in its own approach when dealing with science. I consider that some intellectual movements within evolutionary biology (more specifically, the various calls for 'synthesis') express metascientific views, i.e., claims about 'what it is to do research' in evolutionary biology at different times. In the construction of metascientific views I see a fundamental role (...)
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  • 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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  • The Extended (Evolutionary) Synthesis Debate: Where Science Meets Philosophy.Massimo Pigliucci & Leonard Finkelman - 2015 - BioScience 64 (6):511-516.
    Recent debates between proponents of the modern evolutionary synthesis (the standard model in evolutionary biology) and those of a possible extended synthesis are a good example of the fascinating tangle among empirical, theoretical, and conceptual or philosophical matters that is the practice of evolutionary biology. In this essay, we briefly discuss two case studies from this debate, highlighting the relevance of philosophical thinking to evolutionary biologists in the hope of spurring further constructive cross-pollination between the two fields.
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  • Niche Construction and Conceptual Change in Evolutionary Biology.Tobias Uller & Heikki Helanterä - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (2):351-375.
    The theoretical status of ‘niche construction’ in evolution is intensely debated. Here we substantiate the reasons for different interpretations. We consider two concepts of niche construction brought to bear on evolutionary theory; one that emphasizes how niche construction contributes to selection and another that emphasizes how it contributes to development and inheritance. We explain the rationale for claims that selective and developmental niche construction motivate conceptual change in evolutionary biology and the logic of those who reject these claims. Our analysis (...)
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  • Is Non-Genetic Inheritance Just a Proximate Mechanism? A Corroboration of the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis.Alex Mesoudi, Simon Blanchet, Anne Charmantier, Étienne Danchin, Laurel Fogarty, Eva Jablonka, Kevin N. Laland, Thomas J. H. Morgan, Gerd B. Müller, F. John Odling-Smee & Benoît Pujol - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (3):189-195.
    What role does non-genetic inheritance play in evolution? In recent work we have independently and collectively argued that the existence and scope of non-genetic inheritance systems, including epigenetic inheritance, niche construction/ecological inheritance, and cultural inheritance—alongside certain other theory revisions—necessitates an extension to the neo-Darwinian Modern Synthesis (MS) in the form of an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES). However, this argument has been challenged on the grounds that non-genetic inheritance systems are exclusively proximate mechanisms that serve the ultimate function of calibrating organisms (...)
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  • A Use/Disuse Paradigm for CRISPR-Cas Systems.Sophie Juliane Veigl - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (1):13.
    In his insightful review, Eugene V. Koonin discusses various aspects of CRISPR-Cas systems with a strong focus on their qualities as "adaptive immune systems". The CRISPR-Cas system is most famous for its application as a gene-editing tool. Koonin provides a deeper insight into its biological function in bacteria, which is to immunize the cell against parasite DNA. I shall comment on one issue discussed in the text, in two steps. First, I shall elaborate on CRISPR-Cas systems and their supposed Lamarckian (...)
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  • The Evolutionary Gene and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis.Qiaoying Lu & Pierrick Bourrat - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw035.
    Advocates of an ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’ have claimed that standard evolutionary theory fails to accommodate epigenetic inheritance. The opponents of the extended synthesis argue that the evidence for epigenetic inheritance causing adaptive evolution in nature is insufficient. We suggest that the ambiguity surrounding the conception of the gene represents a background semantic issue in the debate. Starting from Haig’s gene-selectionist framework and Griffiths and Neumann-Held’s notion of the evolutionary gene, we define senses of ‘gene’, ‘environment’, and ‘phenotype’ in a way (...)
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  • Evolutionary Theory and the Ultimate-Proximate Distinction in the Human Behavioral Sciences.T. C. Scott-Phillips, T. E. Dickins & S. A. West - unknown
    To properly understand behavior, we must obtain both ultimate and proximate explanations. Put briefly, ultimate explanations are concerned with why a behavior exists, and proximate explanations are concerned with how it works. These two types of explanation are complementary and the distinction is critical to evolutionary explanation. We are concerned that they have become conflated in some areas of the evolutionary literature on human behavior. This article brings attention to these issues. We focus on three specific areas: the evolution of (...)
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  • The Price Equation and Extended Inheritance.Heikki Helanterä & Tobias Uller - 2010 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 2 (20130604).
    The presence of various mechanisms of non-genetic inheritance is one of the main problems for current evolutionary theory according to several critics. Sufficient empirical and conceptual reasons exist to take this claim seriously, but there is little consensus on the implications of multiple inheritance systems for evolutionary processes. Here we use the Price Equation as a starting point for a discussion of the differences between four recently proposed categories of inheritance systems; genetic, epigenetic, behavioral and symbolic. Specifically, we address how (...)
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  • What’s Wrong with the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis? A Critical Reply to Welch.Koen B. Tanghe, Alexis De Tiège, Lieven Pauwels, Stefaan Blancke & Johan Braeckman - 2018 - Biology and Philosophy 33 (3-4):23.
    Welch :263–279, 2017) has recently proposed two possible explanations for why the field of evolutionary biology is plagued by a steady stream of claims that it needs urgent reform. It is either seriously deficient and incapable of incorporating ideas that are new, relevant and plausible or it is not seriously deficient at all but is prone to attracting discontent and to the championing of ideas that are not very relevant, plausible and/or not really new. He argues for the second explanation. (...)
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  • The Evolutionary Gene and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis.Qiaoying Lu & Pierrick Bourrat - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (3):775-800.
    Advocates of an ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’ have claimed that standard evolutionary theory fails to accommodate epigenetic inheritance. The opponents of the extended synthesis argue that the evidence for epigenetic inheritance causing adaptive evolution in nature is insufficient. We suggest that the ambiguity surrounding the conception of the gene represents a background semantic issue in the debate. Starting from Haig’s gene-selectionist framework and Griffiths and Neumann-Held’s notion of the evolutionary gene, we define senses of ‘gene’, ‘environment’, and ‘phenotype’ in a way (...)
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  • The sociobiology of genes: the gene’s eye view as a unifying behavioural-ecological framework for biological evolution.Alexis De Tiège, Yves Van de Peer, Johan Braeckman & Koen B. Tanghe - 2018 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40 (1):6.
    Although classical evolutionary theory, i.e., population genetics and the Modern Synthesis, was already implicitly ‘gene-centred’, the organism was, in practice, still generally regarded as the individual unit of which a population is composed. The gene-centred approach to evolution only reached a logical conclusion with the advent of the gene-selectionist or gene’s eye view in the 1960s and 1970s. Whereas classical evolutionary theory can only work with fitness differences between individual organisms, gene-selectionism is capable of working with fitness differences among genes (...)
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  • Nested Explanation in Aristotle and Mayr.Lucas Mix - 2016 - Synthese 193 (6):1817-1832.
    Both Aristotle and Ernst Mayr present theories of dual explanation in biology, with proximal, clearly physical explanations and more distal, biology-specific explanations. Aristotle’s presentation of final cause explanations in Posterior Analytics relates final causes to the necessary material, formal, and efficient causes that mediate them. Johnson and Leunissen demonstrate the problematic nature of historical and recent interpretations and open the door for a new interpretation consistent with modern evolutionary theory. Mayr’s differentiation of proximate and ultimate/evolutionary causes provides a key to (...)
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  • Peirce, Evolutionary Aesthetics, and Literary Meaning: Tension, Index, Symbol.Dustin Hellberg - 2018 - Semiotica 2018 (221):71-103.
    Name der Zeitschrift: Semiotica Jahrgang: 2018 Heft: 221 Seiten: 71-103.
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  • Lamarckism and Epigenetic Inheritance: A Clarification.Laurent Loison - 2018 - Biology and Philosophy 33 (3-4):29.
    Since the 1990s, the terms “Lamarckism” and “Lamarckian” have seen a significant resurgence in biological publications. The discovery of new molecular mechanisms have been interpreted as evidence supporting the reality and efficiency of the inheritance of acquired characters, and thus the revival of Lamarckism. The present paper aims at giving a critical evaluation of such interpretations. I argue that two types of arguments allow to draw a clear distinction between the genuine Lamarckian concept of inheritance of acquired characters and transgenerational (...)
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  • Weismann, Wittgenstein and the Homunculus Fallacy.Harry Smit - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (3):263-271.
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  • Weismann, Wittgenstein and the Homunculus Fallacy.Harry Smit - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 41 (3):263-271.
    A problem that has troubled both neo-Darwinists and neo-Lamarckians is whether instincts involve knowledge. This paper discusses the contributions to this problem of the evolutionary biologist August Weismann and the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Weismann discussed an empirical homunculus fallacy: Lamarck’s theory mistakenly presupposes a homunculus in the germ cells. Wittgenstein discussed a conceptual homunculus fallacy which applies to Lamarck’s theory: it is mistaken to suppose that knowledge is stored in the brain or DNA. The upshot of these two fallacies is (...)
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  • More on How and Why: Cause and Effect in Biology Revisited.Kevin N. Laland, John Odling-Smee, William Hoppitt & Tobias Uller - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (5):719-745.
    In 1961, Ernst Mayr published a highly influential article on the nature of causation in biology, in which he distinguished between proximate and ultimate causes. Mayr argued that proximate causes (e.g. physiological factors) and ultimate causes (e.g. natural selection) addressed distinct ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions and were not competing alternatives. That distinction retains explanatory value today. However, the adoption of Mayr’s heuristic led to the widespread belief that ontogenetic processes are irrelevant to evolutionary questions, a belief that has (1) hindered (...)
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  • Unmodern Synthesis: Developmental Hierarchies and the Origin of Phenotypes.Richard Gawne, Kenneth Z. McKenna & H. Frederik Nijhout - 2018 - Bioessays 40 (1):1600265.
    The question of whether the modern evolutionary synthesis requires an extension has recently become a topic of discussion, and a source of controversy. We suggest that this debate is, for the most part, not about the modern synthesis at all. Rather, it is about the extent to which genetic mechanisms can be regarded as the primary determinants of phenotypic characters. The modern synthesis has been associated with the idea that phenotypes are the result of gene products, while supporters of the (...)
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  • Rethinking Inheritance.Kim Sterelny - 2007 - Biological Theory 2 (3):215-217.
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  • From DNA- to NA-Centrism and the Conditions for Gene-Centrism Revisited.Alexis De Tiège, Koen Tanghe, Johan Braeckman & Yves Van de Peer - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (1):55-69.
    First the ‘Weismann barrier’ and later on Francis Crick’s ‘central dogma’ of molecular biology nourished the gene-centric paradigm of life, i.e., the conception of the gene/genome as a ‘central source’ from which hereditary specificity unidirectionally flows or radiates into cellular biochemistry and development. Today, due to advances in molecular genetics and epigenetics, such as the discovery of complex post-genomic and epigenetic processes in which genes are causally integrated, many theorists argue that a gene-centric conception of the organism has become problematic. (...)
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  • The Strategic Gene.David Haig - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (4):461-479.
    Abstract Gene-selectionists define fundamental terms in non-standard ways. Genes are determinants of difference. Phenotypes are defined as a gene’s effects relative to some alternative whereas the environment is defined as all parts of the world that are shared by the alternatives being compared. Environments choose among phenotypes and thereby choose among genes. By this process, successful gene sequences become stores of information about what works in the environment. The strategic gene is defined as a set of gene tokens that combines (...)
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