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  1. Epistemic misalignments in microbiome research.Federico Boem & Javier Suárez - forthcoming - Bioessays:2300220.
    We argue that microbiome research should be more reflective on the methods that it relies on to build its datasets due to the danger of facing a methodological problem which we call “epistemic misalignment.” An epistemic misalignment occurs when the method used to answer specific scientific questions does not track justified answers, due to the material constraints imposed by the very method. For example, relying on 16S rRNA to answer questions about the function of the microbiome generates epistemic misalignments, due (...)
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  • Scrutinizing microbiome determinism: why deterministic hypotheses about the microbiome are conceptually ungrounded.Javier Suárez - 2024 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 46 (1):1-26.
    This paper addresses the topic of determinism in contemporary microbiome research. I distinguish two types of deterministic claims about the microbiome, and I show evidence that both types of claims are present in the contemporary literature. First, the idea that the host genetics determines the composition of the microbiome which I call “host-microbiome determinism”. Second, the idea that the genetics of the holobiont (the individual unit composed by a host plus its microbiome) determines the expression of certain phenotypic traits, which (...)
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  • Biological Individuals.Robert A. Wilson & Matthew J. Barker - 2024 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    The impressive variation amongst biological individuals generates many complexities in addressing the simple-sounding question what is a biological individual? A distinction between evolutionary and physiological individuals is useful in thinking about biological individuals, as is attention to the kinds of groups, such as superorganisms and species, that have sometimes been thought of as biological individuals. More fully understanding the conceptual space that biological individuals occupy also involves considering a range of other concepts, such as life, reproduction, and agency. There has (...)
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  • Rethinking hereditary relations: the reconstitutor as the evolutionary unit of heredity.Sophie J. Veigl, Javier Suárez & Adrian Stencel - 2022 - Synthese 200 (5):1-42.
    This paper introduces the reconstitutor as a comprehensive unit of heredity within the context of evolutionary research. A reconstitutor is the structure resulting from a set of relationships between different elements or processes that are actively involved in the recreation of a specific phenotypic variant in each generation regardless of the biomolecular basis of the elements or whether they stand in a continuous line of ancestry. Firstly, we justify the necessity of introducing the reconstitutor by showing the limitations of other (...)
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  • What is a hologenomic adaptation? Emergent individuality and inter-identity in multispecies systems.Javier Suárez & Vanessa Triviño - 2020 - Frontiers in Psychology 187 (11).
    Contemporary biological research has suggested that some host–microbiome multispecies systems (referred to as “holobionts”) can in certain circumstances evolve as unique biological individual, thus being a unit of selection in evolution. If this is so, then it is arguably the case that some biological adaptations have evolved at the level of the multispecies system, what we call hologenomic adaptations. However, no research has yet been devoted to investigating their nature, or how these adaptations can be distinguished from adaptations at the (...)
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  • Technology-driven surrogates and the perils of epistemic misalignment: an analysis in contemporary microbiome science.Javier Suárez & Federico Boem - 2022 - Synthese 200 (6):1-28.
    A general view in philosophy of science says that the appropriateness of an object to act as a surrogate depends on the user’s decision to utilize it as such. This paper challenges this claim by examining the role of surrogative reasoning in high-throughput sequencing technologies as they are used in contemporary microbiome science. Drawing on this, we argue that, in technology-driven surrogates, knowledge about the type of inference practically permitted and epistemically justified by the surrogate constrains their use and thus (...)
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  • The Holobiont Blindspot: Relating Host-Microbiome Interactions to Cognitive Biases and the Concept of the “Umwelt”.Jake M. Robinson & Ross Cameron - 2020 - Frontiers in Psychology 11.
    Cognitive biases can lead to misinterpretations of human and non-human biology and behavior. The concept of the Umwelt describes phylogenetic contrasts in the sensory realms of different species and has important implications for evolutionary studies of cognition (including biases) and social behavior. It has recently been suggested that the microbiome (the diverse network of microorganisms in a given environment, including those within a host organism such as humans) has an influential role in host behavior and health. In this paper, we (...)
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  • How many ways can you die? Multiple biological deaths as a consequence of the multiple concepts of an organism.Piotr Grzegorz Nowak & Adrian Stencel - 2022 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 43 (2):127-154.
    According to the mainstream position in the bioethical definition of death debate, death is to be equated with the cessation of an organism. Given such a perspective, some bioethicists uphold the position that brain-dead patients are dead, while others claim that they are alive. Regardless of the specific opinion on the status of brain-dead patients, the mere bioethical concept of death, according to many bioethicists, has the merit of being unanimous and univocal, as well as grounded in biology. In the (...)
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  • Ontic and Epistemic Differentiation: Mechanistic Problems for Microbiology and Biology.Flavia Marcacci, Michal Oleksowicz & Angela Conti - forthcoming - Foundations of Science:1-23.
    Species are considered the basic unit of biological classification and evolution. Hence, they are used as a benchmark in several fields, although the ontological status of such a category has always been a matter of debate. This paper aims to discuss the problem of the definition of species within the new mechanistic approach. Nevertheless, the boundary between entities, activities, and mechanisms remains difficult to establish and always requires an analysis of what is meant by explanation. As a case study, the (...)
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  • Do heritable immune responses extend physiological individuality?Sophie Juliane Veigl - 2022 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 44 (4):1-20.
    Immunology and its philosophy are a primary source for thinking about biological individuality. Through its discriminatory function, the immune system is believed to delineate organism and environment within one generation, thus defining the physiological individual. Based on the paradigmatic instantiations of immune systems, immune interactions and, thus, the physiological individual are believed to last only for one generation. However, in recent years, transgenerationally persisting immune responses have been reported in several phyla, but the consequences for physiological individuality have not yet (...)
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  • Not by structures alone: Can the immune system recognize microbial functions?Gregor P. Greslehner - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 84 (C):101336.
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  • How do networks explain? A neo-hempelian approach to network explanations of the ecology of the microbiome.José Díez & Javier Suárez - 2023 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 13 (3):1-26.
    Despite the importance of network analysis in biological practice, dominant models of scientific explanation do not account satisfactorily for how this family of explanations gain their explanatory power in every specific application. This insufficiency is particularly salient in the study of the ecology of the microbiome. Drawing on Coyte et al. (2015) study of the ecology of the microbiome, Deulofeu et al. (2021) argue that these explanations are neither mechanistic, nor purely mathematical, yet they are substantially empirical. Building on their (...)
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  • Global climate change, diet, and the complex relationship between human host and microbiome: Towards an integrated picture.Francesco Catania, Jan Baedke, Alejandro Fábregas-Tejeda, Abigail Nieves Delgado, Valerio Vitali & Le Anh Nguyen Long - 2021 - Bioessays 43 (6):2100049.
    Dietary changes can alter the human microbiome with potential detrimental consequences for health. Given that environment, health, and evolution are interconnected, we ask: Could diet‐driven microbiome perturbations have consequences that extend beyond their immediate impact on human health? We address this question in the context of the urgent health challenges posed by global climate change. Drawing on recent studies, we propose that not only can diet‐driven microbiome changes lead to dysbiosis, they can also shape life‐history traits and fuel human evolution. (...)
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  • Modeling the evolution of interconnected processes: It is the song and the singers.Eric Bapteste & François Papale - 2021 - Bioessays 43 (1):2000077.
    Recently, Doolittle and Inkpen formulated a thought provoking theory, asserting that evolution by natural selection was responsible for the sideways evolution of two radically different kinds of selective units (also called Domains). The former entities, termed singers, correspond to the usual objects studied by evolutionary biologists (gene, genomes, individuals, species, etc.), whereas the later, termed songs, correspond to re‐produced biological and ecosystemic functions, processes, information, and memes. Singers perform songs through selected patterns of interactions, meaning that a wealth of critical (...)
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  • El holobionte/hologenoma como nivel de seleccion.Javier Suárez - 2021 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 36 (1):81-112.
    The units or levels of selection debate concerns the question of what kind of biological systems are stable enough that part of their evolution is a result of the process of natural selection acting at their level. Traditionally, the debate has concerned at least two different, though related, questions: the question of the level at which interaction with the environment occurs, and the question of the level at which reproduction occurs. In recent years, biologists and philosophers have discussed a new (...)
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