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  1. Explaining Ambiguity in Scientific Language.Beckett Sterner - 2022 - Synthese 200 (5):1-27.
    The idea that ambiguity can be productive in data science remains controversial. Efforts to make scientific publications and data intelligible to computers generally assume that accommodating multiple meanings for words, known as polysemy, undermines reasoning and communication. This assumption has nonetheless been contested by historians, philosophers, and social scientists, who have applied qualitative research methods to demonstrate the generative and strategic value of polysemy. Recent quantitative results from linguistics have also shown how polysemy can actually improve the efficiency of human (...)
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  • Heritable Changeability: Epimutation and the Legacy of Negative Definition in Epigenetic Concepts.Anne Le Goff, Patrick Allard & Hannah Landecker - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 86:35-46.
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  • Putting History Back Into Mechanisms.Justin Garson - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Mechanisms, in the prominent biological sense of the term, are historical entities. That is, whether or not something is a mechanism for something depends on its history. Put differently, while your spontaneously-generated molecule-for-molecule double has a heart, and its heart pumps blood around its body, its heart does not have a mechanism for pumping, since it does not have the right history. My argument for this claim is that mechanisms have proper functions; proper functions are historical entities; so, mechanisms are (...)
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  • Do Transposable Elements Have Functions of Their Very Own?Justin Garson - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (3):1-18.
    Philosophers who study the problem of biological function often begin their deliberations by reflecting on the functions of parts of animals, or the behavior of animals. Applying theories of biological function to unconventional or borderline cases can help us to better evaluate and refine those theories. This is the case when we consider whether parts of transposable elements —bits of “selfish” DNA that move about within a host genome—have functions of their own, that is, whether the parts of TEs have (...)
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