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  1. Evolution, Genetic Engineering, and Human Enhancement.Russell Powell, Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu - 2012 - Philosophy and Technology 25 (4):439-458.
    There are many ways that biological theory can inform ethical discussions of genetic engineering and biomedical enhancement. In this essay, we highlight some of these potential contributions, and along the way provide a synthetic overview of the papers that comprise this special issue. We begin by comparing and contrasting genetic engineering with programs of selective breeding that led to the domestication of plants and animals, and we consider how genetic engineering differs from other contemporary biotechnologies such as embryo selection. We (...)
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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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  • Variedades de la explicación en evo-devo.María Alejandra Petino Zappala & Sergio Daniel Barberis - 2018 - Epistemologia E Historia de la Ciencia 3 (1):18-31.
    The aim of this paper lies in characterizing the explanations and models used in the field of evolutionary developmental biology throughout its history. While manipulative experiments in controlled conditions have been useful to set the bases of the discipline and are still routinely performed, this approach supposes a tension between the reliability and the representativity of the conclusions. Given the recent changes in the understanding of evolutionary phenomena, different authors currently emphasize the need of avoiding excessive simplifications in experimental approaches, (...)
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  • The Mismeasure of Machine: Synthetic Biology and the Trouble with Engineering Metaphors.Maarten Boudry & Massimo Pigliucci - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):660-668.
    The scientific study of living organisms is permeated by machine and design metaphors. Genes are thought of as the ‘‘blueprint’’ of an organism, organisms are ‘‘reverse engineered’’ to discover their functionality, and living cells are compared to biochemical factories, complete with assembly lines, transport systems, messenger circuits, etc. Although the notion of design is indispensable to think about adaptations, and engineering analogies have considerable heuristic value (e.g., optimality assumptions), we argue they are limited in several important respects. In particular, the (...)
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  • Basic Emotions: A Reconstruction.William A. Mason & John P. Capitanio - 2012 - Emotion Review 4 (3):238-244.
    Emotionality is a basic feature of behavior. The argument over whether the expression of emotions is based primarily on culture (constructivism, nurture) or biology (natural forms, nature) will never be resolved because both alternatives are untenable. The evidence is overwhelming that at all ages and all levels of organization, the development of emotionality is epigenetic: The organism is an active participant in its own development. To ascribe these effects to “experience” was the best that could be done for many years. (...)
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  • Plant Studies May Lead Us to Rethink the Concept of Behavior.Fatima Cvrčková, Viktor Žárský & Anton Markoš - 2016 - Frontiers in Psychology 7.
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  • Recent Work in The Philosophy of Biology.Christopher J. Austin - 2017 - Analysis 77 (2):anx032.
    The biological sciences have always proven a fertile ground for philosophical analysis, one from which has grown a rich tradition stemming from Aristotle and flowering with Darwin. And although contemporary philosophy is increasingly becoming conceptually entwined with the study of the empirical sciences with the data of the latter now being regularly utilised in the establishment and defence of the frameworks of the former, a practice especially prominent in the philosophy of physics, the development of that tradition hasn’t received the (...)
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  • Homology Across Inheritance Systems.Russell Powell & Nicholas Shea - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (6):781-806.
    Recent work on inheritance systems can be divided into inclusive conceptions, according to which genetic and non-genetic inheritance are both involved in the development and transmission of nearly all animal behavioral traits, and more demanding conceptions of what it takes for non-genetic resources involved in development to qualify as a distinct inheritance system. It might be thought that, if a more stringent conception is adopted, homologies could not subsist across two distinct inheritance systems. Indeed, it is commonly assumed that homology (...)
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  • What Are We to Make of the Concept of Race? Thoughts of a Philosopher–Scientist.Massimo Pigliucci - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):272-277.
    Discussions about the biological bases (or lack thereof) of the concept of race in the human species seem to be never ending. One of the latest rounds is represented by a paper by Neven Sesardic, which attempts to build a strong scientific case for the existence of human races, based on genetic, morphometric and behavioral characteristics, as well as on a thorough critique of opposing positions. In this paper I show that Sesardic’s critique falls far short of the goal, and (...)
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  • Explanatory Integration Challenges in Evolutionary Systems Biology.Sara Green, Melinda Fagan & Johannes Jaeger - 2015 - Biological Theory 10 (1):18-35.
    Evolutionary systems biology aims to integrate methods from systems biology and evolutionary biology to go beyond the current limitations in both fields. This article clarifies some conceptual difficulties of this integration project, and shows how they can be overcome. The main challenge we consider involves the integration of evolutionary biology with developmental dynamics, illustrated with two examples. First, we examine historical tensions between efforts to define general evolutionary principles and articulation of detailed mechanistic explanations of specific traits. Next, these tensions (...)
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  • The Molecular and Mathematical Basis of Waddington's Epigenetic Landscape: A Framework for Post‐Darwinian Biology?Sui Huang - 2012 - Bioessays 34 (2):149-157.
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  • The Comet Cometh: Evolving Developmental Systems.Johannes Jaeger, Manfred Laubichler & Werner Callebaut - 2015 - Biological Theory 10 (1):36-49.
    In a recent opinion piece, Denis Duboule has claimed that the increasing shift towards systems biology is driving evolutionary and developmental biology apart, and that a true reunification of these two disciplines within the framework of evolutionary developmental biology may easily take another 100 years. He identifies methodological, epistemological, and social differences as causes for this supposed separation. Our article provides a contrasting view. We argue that Duboule’s prediction is based on a one-sided understanding of systems biology as a science (...)
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  • The Mismeasure of Machine: Synthetic Biology and the Trouble with Engineering Metaphors.Maarten Boudry & Massimo Pigliucci - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (4):660-668.
    The scientific study of living organisms is permeated by machine and design metaphors. Genes are thought of as the ‘‘blueprint’’ of an organism, organisms are ‘‘reverse engineered’’ to discover their func- tionality, and living cells are compared to biochemical factories, complete with assembly lines, transport systems, messenger circuits, etc. Although the notion of design is indispensable to think about adapta- tions, and engineering analogies have considerable heuristic value (e.g., optimality assumptions), we argue they are limited in several important respects. In (...)
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  • Engineering and Evolvability.Brett Calcott - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (3):293-313.
    Comparing engineering to evolution typically involves adaptationist thinking, where well-designed artifacts are likened to well-adapted organisms, and the process of evolution is likened to the process of design. A quite different comparison is made when biologists focus on evolvability instead of adaptationism. Here, the idea is that complex integrated systems, whether evolved or engineered, share universal principles that affect the way they change over time. This shift from adaptationism to evolvability is a significant move for, as I argue, we can (...)
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