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Genes and the Agents of Life: The Individual in the Fragile Sciences Biology

New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press (2005)

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  1. Review of Rob Wilson's Boundaries of the Mind: The Individual in the Fragile Sciences: Cognition. [REVIEW]Leslie Marsh - 2006 - Philosophical Psychology 19 (4).
    Review of Rob Wilson?s Boundaries of the Mind: The Individual in the Fragile Sciences: Cognition.
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  • Continuing After Species: An Afterword.Robert A. Wilson - forthcoming - In John S. Wilkins, Igor Pavlinov & Frank Zachos (eds.), Species and Beyond.
    This afterword to Species and Beyond provides some reflections on species, with special attention to what I think the most significant developments have been in the thinking of biologists and philosophers working on species over the past 25 years, as well as some bad jokes.
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  • Dealing with the Changeable and Blurry Edges of Living Things: A Modified Version of Property-Cluster Kinds.María J. Ferreira Ruiz & Jon Umerez - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (3):493-518.
    Despite many attempts to achieve an adequate definition of living systems by means of a set of necessary and sufficient conditions, the opinion that such an enterprise is inexorably destined to fail is increasingly gaining support. However, we believe options do not just come down to either having faith in a future success or endorsing skepticism. In this paper, we aim to redirect the discussion of the problem by shifting the focus of attention from strict definitions towards a philosophical framework (...)
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  • Innateness and the Sciences.Matteo Mameli & Patrick Bateson - 2006 - Biology and Philosophy 21 (2):155-188.
    The concept of innateness is a part of folk wisdom but is also used by biologists and cognitive scientists. This concept has a legitimate role to play in science only if the colloquial usage relates to a coherent body of evidence. We examine many different candidates for the post of scientific successor of the folk concept of innateness. We argue that none of these candidates is entirely satisfactory. Some of the candidates are more interesting and useful than others, but the (...)
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  • Natural Kinds in Philosophy and in the Life Sciences: Scholastic Twilight or New Dawn? [REVIEW]Miles MacLeod & Thomas A. C. Reydon - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (2):89-99.
    This article, which is intended both as a position paper in the philosophical debate on natural kinds and as the guest editorial to this thematic issue, takes up the challenge posed by Ian Hacking in his paper, “Natural Kinds: Rosy Dawn, Scholastic Twilight.” Whereas a straightforward interpretation of that paper suggests that according to Hacking the concept of natural kinds should be abandoned, both in the philosophy of science and in philosophy more generally, we suggest that an alternative and less (...)
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  • Substance Concepts and Personal Identity.Peter Nichols - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 150 (2):255-270.
    According to one argument for Animalism about personal identity, animal , but not person , is a Wigginsian substance concept—a concept that tells us what we are essentially. Person supposedly fails to be a substance concept because it is a functional concept that answers the question “what do we do?” without telling us what we are. Since person is not a substance concept, it cannot provide the criteria for our coming into or going out of existence; animal , on the (...)
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  • Engineering Differences Between Natural, Social, and Artificial Kinds.Eric T. Kerr - 2013 - In Maarten Franssen, Peter Kroes, Pieter Vermaas & Thomas A. C. Reydon (eds.), Artefact Kinds: Ontology and the Human-made World. Synthese Library.
    My starting point is that discussions in philosophy about the ontology of technical artifacts ought to be informed by classificatory practices in engineering. Hence, the heuristic value of the natural-artificial distinction in engineering counts against arguments which favour abandoning the distinction in metaphysics. In this chapter, I present the philosophical equipment needed to analyse classificatory practices and then present a case study of engineering practice using these theoretical tools. More in particular, I make use of the Collectivist Account of Technical (...)
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  • Searle's Derivation of Promissory Obligation.Savas L. Tsohatzidis - 2007 - In Intentional Acts and Insitutional Facts: Essays on John Searle's Social Ontology. Springer.
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  • Natural Kinds and Naturalised Kantianism.Michela Massimi - 2014 - Noûs 48 (3):416-449.
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  • The Drink You Have When You’Re Not Having a Drink.Robert A. Wilson - 2008 - Mind and Language 23 (3):273–283.
    The Architecture of the Mind is itself built on foundations that deserve probing. In this brief commentary I focus on these foundations—Carruthers’ conception of modularity, his arguments for thinking that the mind is massively modular in structure, and his view of human cognitive architecture.
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  • A Trilemma for Teleological Individualism.John Basl - 2017 - Synthese 194 (4):1027-1029.
    This paper addresses the foundations of Teleological Individualism, the view that organisms, even non-sentient organisms, are goal-oriented systems while biological collectives, such as ecosystems or conspecific groups, are mere assemblages of organisms. Typical defenses of Teleological Individualism ground the teleological organization of organisms in the workings of natural selection. This paper shows that grounding teleological organization in natural selection is antithetical to Teleological Individualism because such views assume a view about the units of selection on which it is only individual (...)
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  • Organisms or Biological Individuals? Combining Physiological and Evolutionary Individuality.Thomas Pradeu - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (6):797-817.
    The definition of biological individuality is one of the most discussed topics in philosophy of biology, but current debate has focused almost exclusively on evolution-based accounts. Moreover, several participants in this debate consider the notions of a biological individual and an organism as equivalent. In this paper, I show that the debates would be considerably enriched and clarified if philosophers took into account two elements. First, physiological fields are crucial for the understanding of biological individuality. Second, the category of biological (...)
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  • Rethinking Individuality: The Dialectics of the Holobiont.Scott F. Gilbert & Alfred I. Tauber - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (6):839-853.
    Given immunity’s general role in the organism’s economy—both in terms of its internal environment as well as mediating its external relations—immune theory has expanded its traditional formulation of preserving individual autonomy to one that includes accounting for nutritional processes and symbiotic relationships that require immune tolerance. When such a full ecological alignment is adopted, the immune system becomes the mediator of both defensive and assimilative environmental intercourse, where a balance of immune rejection and tolerance governs the complex interactions of the (...)
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  • Typology Reconfigured: From the Metaphysics of Essentialism to the Epistemology of Representation.Alan C. Love - 2009 - Acta Biotheoretica 57 (1-2):51-75.
    The goal of this paper is to encourage a reconfiguration of the discussion about typology in biology away from the metaphysics of essentialism and toward the epistemology of classifying natural phenomena for the purposes of empirical inquiry. First, I briefly review arguments concerning ‘typological thinking’, essentialism, species, and natural kinds, highlighting their predominantly metaphysical nature. Second, I use a distinction between the aims, strategies, and tactics of science to suggest how a shift from metaphysics to epistemology might be accomplished. Typological (...)
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  • Anchoring in Ecosystemic Kinds.Matthew Slater - 2018 - Synthese 195 (4):1487-1508.
    The world contains many different types of ecosystems. This is something of a commonplace in biology and conservation science. But there has been little attention to the question of whether such ecosystem types enjoy a degree of objectivity—whether they might be natural kinds. I argue that traditional accounts of natural kinds that emphasize nomic or causal–mechanistic dimensions of “kindhood” are ill-equipped to accommodate presumptive ecosystemic kinds. In particular, unlike many other kinds, ecosystemic kinds are “anchored” to the contingent character of (...)
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  • The Many Faces of Biological Individuality.Thomas Pradeu - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (6):761-773.
    Biological individuality is a major topic of discussion in biology and philosophy of biology. Recently, several objections have been raised against traditional accounts of biological individuality, including the objections of monism, theory-centrism, ahistoricity, disciplinary isolationism, and the multiplication of conceptual uncertainties. In this introduction, I will examine the current philosophical landscape about biological individuality, and show how the contributions gathered in this special issue address these five objections. Overall, the aim of this issue is to offer a more diverse, unifying, (...)
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  • Cell Types as Natural Kinds.Matthew H. Slater - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (2):170-179.
    Talk of different types of cells is commonplace in the biological sciences. We know a great deal, for example, about human muscle cells by studying the same type of cells in mice. Information about cell type is apparently largely projectible across species boundaries. But what defines cell type? Do cells come pre-packaged into different natural kinds? Philosophical attention to these questions has been extremely limited [see e.g., Wilson (Species: New Interdisciplinary Essays, pp 187–207, 1999; Genes and the Agents of Life, (...)
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  • If Materialism is True, the United States is Probably Conscious.Eric Schwitzgebel - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (7):1697-1721.
    If you’re a materialist, you probably think that rabbits are conscious. And you ought to think that. After all, rabbits are a lot like us, biologically and neurophysiologically. If you’re a materialist, you probably also think that conscious experience would be present in a wide range of naturally-evolved alien beings behaviorally very similar to us even if they are physiologically very different. And you ought to think that. After all, to deny it seems insupportable Earthly chauvinism. But a materialist who (...)
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  • Causal Parity and Externalisms: Extensions in Life and Mind. [REVIEW]Philippe Huneman - 2013 - Minds and Machines 23 (3):377-404.
    This paper questions the form and prospects of “extended theories” which have been simultaneously and independently advocated both in the philosophy of mind and in the philosophy of biology. It focuses on Extend Mind Theory (EMT) and Developmental Systems Theory (DST). It shows first that the two theories vindicate a parallel extension of received views, the former concerning extending cognition beyond the brain, the latter concerned with extending evolution and development beyond the genes. It also shows that both arguments rely (...)
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  • Overextension: The Extended Mind and Arguments From Evolutionary Biology. [REVIEW]Armin W. Schulz - 2013 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 3 (2):241-255.
    I critically assess two widely cited evolutionary biological arguments for two versions of the ‘Extended Mind Thesis’ (EMT): namely, an argument appealing to Dawkins’s ‘Extended Phenotype Thesis’ (EPT) and an argument appealing to ‘Developmental Systems Theory’ (DST). Specifically, I argue that, firstly, appealing to the EPT is not useful for supporting the EMT (in either version), as it is structured and motivated too differently from the latter to be able to corroborate or elucidate it. Secondly, I extend and defend Rupert’s (...)
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  • Life as a Homeostatic Property Cluster.Antonio Diéguez - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (2):180-186.
    All of the attempts to date to find a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for life, in order to provide an essential definition of life, have failed. We only have at our disposal series of lists that contain diverse characteristics usually found in living beings. Some authors have drawn from this fact the conclusion that life is not a natural kind. It will be argued here that this conclusion is too hasty and that if life is understood as a (...)
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  • Introduction to “The Material Bases of Cognition”.Kenneth Aizawa - 2013 - Minds and Machines 23 (3):277-286.
    Special Issue: The Material Bases of Cognition Guest Editors: Fred Adams · Kenneth Aizawa -/- Compositional Explanatory Relations and Mechanistic Reduction K.L. Theurer 287 -/- Constitution, and Multiple Constitution, in the Sciences: Using the Neuron to Construct a Starting Framework C. Gillett 309 -/- The Mark of the Cognitive F. Adams · R. Garrison 339 -/- Dynamics and Cognition L.A. Shapiro 353 -/- Causal Parity and Externalisms: Extensions in Life and Mind P. Huneman 377 -/- Did I Do That? Brain–Computer (...)
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  • Scientific Enquiry and Natural Kinds: From Planets to Mallards.P. D. Magnus - 2012 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    Some scientific categories seem to correspond to genuine features of the world and are indispensable for successful science in some domain; in short, they are natural kinds. This book gives a general account of what it is to be a natural kind and puts the account to work illuminating numerous specific examples.
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  • The Sound of Music: Externalist Style.Luke Kersten & Robert A. Wilson - 2016 - American Philosophical Quarterly 53 (2):139-154.
    Philosophical exploration of individualism and externalism in the cognitive sciences most recently has been focused on general evaluations of these two views (Adams & Aizawa 2008, Rupert 2008, Wilson 2004, Clark 2008). Here we return to broaden an earlier phase of the debate between individualists and externalists about cognition, one that considered in detail particular theories, such as those in developmental psychology (Patterson 1991) and the computational theory of vision (Burge 1986, Segal 1989). Music cognition is an area in the (...)
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  • A Conceptual and Empirical Framework for the Social Distribution of Cognition: The Case of Memory.Amanda Barnier, John Sutton, Celia Harris & Robert A. Wilson - 2008 - Cognitive Systems Research 9 (1):33-51.
    In this paper, we aim to show that the framework of embedded, distributed, or extended cognition offers new perspectives on social cognition by applying it to one specific domain: the psychology of memory. In making our case, first we specify some key social dimensions of cognitive distribution and some basic distinctions between memory cases, and then describe stronger and weaker versions of distributed remembering in the general distributed cognition framework. Next, we examine studies of social influences on memory in cognitive (...)
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  • How to Situate Cognition: Letting Nature Take its Course.Robert A. Wilson & Andy Clark - 2009 - In Murat Aydede & P. Robbins (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 55--77.
    1. The Situation in Cognition 2. Situated Cognition: A Potted Recent History 3. Extensions in Biology, Computation, and Cognition 4. Articulating the Idea of Cognitive Extension 5. Are Some Resources Intrinsically Non-Cognitive? 6. Is Cognition Extended or Only Embedded? 7. Letting Nature Take Its Course.
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  • General Solution to All Philosophical Problems With Some Exceptions.Wayde Beasley - forthcoming - north of parallel 40: Numerous uncommitted.
    Philosophy is unsolved. My forthcoming book sets forth the final resolution, with some exceptions, to this 2,500 year crisis. I am currently close to finishing page 983.
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  • What Determines Biological Fitness? The Problem of the Reference Environment.Marshall Abrams - 2009 - Synthese 166 (1):21-40.
    Organisms' environments are thought to play a fundamental role in determining their fitness and hence in natural selection. Existing intuitive conceptions of environment are sufficient for biological practice. I argue, however, that attempts to produce a general characterization of fitness and natural selection are incomplete without the help of general conceptions of what conditions are included in the environment. Thus there is a "problem of the reference environment"—more particularly, problems of specifying principles which pick out those environmental conditions which determine (...)
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  • Natural Kindness.Matthew H. Slater - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (2):375-411.
    Philosophers have long been interested in a series of interrelated questions about natural kinds. What are they? What role do they play in science and metaphysics? How do they contribute to our epistemic projects? What categories count as natural kinds? And so on. Owing, perhaps, to different starting points and emphases, we now have at hand a variety of conceptions of natural kinds—some apparently better suited than others to accommodate a particular sort of inquiry. Even if coherent, this situation isn’t (...)
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  • Species, Genes, and the Tree of Life.Joel D. Velasco - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (3):599-619.
    A common view is that species occupy a unique position on the Tree of Life. Evaluating this claim requires an understanding of what the Tree of Life represents. The Tree represents history, but there are at least three biological levels that are often said to have genealogies: species, organisms, and genes. Here I focus on defending the plausibility of a gene-based account of the Tree. This leads to an account of species that are determined by gene genealogies. On this view, (...)
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  • Gene Names as Proper Names of Individuals: An Assessment.Thomas A. C. Reydon - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (2):409-432.
    According to a recent suggestion, the names of gene taxa should be conceived of as referring to individuals with concrete genes as their parts, just as the names of biological species are often understood as denoting individuals with organisms as their parts. Although prima facie this suggestion might advance the debate on gene concepts in a similar way as the species-are-individuals thesis advanced the debate on species concepts, I argue that the principal arguments in support of the gene-individuality thesis are (...)
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  • Immunity in Context.Alfred I. Tauber - 2016 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 31 (2):207-224.
    According to immunology’s prevailing paradigm, immunity is based on self/nonself discrimination and thus requires a construction of identity. Two orientations vie for dominance: The original conception, conceived in the context of infectious diseases, regards the organism as insular and autonomous, an entity that requires defense of its borders. An alternate view places the organism firmly in its environment in which both benign and onerous encounters occur. On this latter relational account, active tolerance allows for cooperative relationships with other organisms in (...)
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  • Searching for Darwinism in Generalized Darwinism.Thomas A. C. Reydon & Markus Scholz - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (3):561-589.
    While evolutionary thinking is increasingly becoming popular in fields of investigation outside the biological sciences, it remains unclear how helpful it is there and whether it actually yields good explanations of the phenomena under study. Here we examine the ontology of a recent approach to applying evolutionary thinking outside biology, the generalized Darwinism approach proposed by Geoffrey Hodgson and Thorbjørn Knudsen. We examine the ontology of populations in biology and in GD, and argue that biological evolutionary theory sets ontological criteria (...)
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  • Eliminative Pluralism and Integrative Alternatives: The Case of Species.Matthew J. Barker - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):657-681.
    Pluralisms of various sorts are popular in philosophy of science, including those that imply some scientific concept x should be eliminated from science in favour of a plurality of concepts x1, x2, … xn. This article focuses on influential and representative arguments for such eliminative pluralism about the concept species. The main conclusions are that these arguments fail, that all other extant arguments also fail, and that this reveals a quite general dilemma, one that poses a defeasible presumption against many (...)
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  • Getting Personal: Can Systems Medicine Integrate Scientific and Humanistic Conceptions of the Patient?Henrik Vogt, Elling Ulvestad, Thor Eirik Eriksen & Linn Getz - 2014 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 20 (6):942-952.
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  • Epistemic Cognition and Development: The Psychology of Justification and Truth.Lena Kästner - 2015 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (4):444-447.
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  • Darwin’s Solution to the Species Problem.Marc Ereshefsky - 2010 - Synthese 175 (3):405 - 425.
    Biologists and philosophers that debate the existence of the species category fall into two camps. Some believe that the species category does not exist and the term 'species' should be eliminated from biology. Others believe that with new biological insights or the application of philosophical ideas, we can be confident that the species category exists. This paper offers a different approach to the species problem. We should be skeptical of the species category, but not skeptical of the existence of those (...)
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  • Merleau-Ponty, Passivity, and Science. From Structure, Sense and Expression, to Life as Phenomenal Field, Via the Regulatory Genome.David Morris - 2012 - Chiasmi International 14:89-112.
    Merleau-Ponty, la passivité et la scienceJe soutiens qu’il y a plus en jeu dans l’intérêt de Merleau-Ponty pour la science qu’une simple dialectique entre disciplines. C’est parce que son évolutionméthodologique le conduit à trouver dans la science un moyen spécifique d’approfondir ses recherches ontologiques, que celle-ci hante de plus en plus sa philosophie. En effet, dans le chapitre « champ phénoménal » de la Phénoménologie de la perception, il est possible de rapprocher certains aspects de son défi méthodologique et l’idée (...)
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  • When Traditional Essentialism Fails.Robert A. Wilson, Matthew J. Barker & Ingo Brigandt - 2007 - Philosophical Topics 35 (1-2):189-215.
    Essentialism is widely regarded as a mistaken view of biological kinds, such as species. After recounting why (sections 2-3), we provide a brief survey of the chief responses to the “death of essentialism” in the philosophy of biology (section 4). We then develop one of these responses, the claim that biological kinds are homeostatic property clusters (sections 5-6) illustrating this view with several novel examples (section 7). Although this view was first expressed 20 years ago, and has received recent discussion (...)
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  • Pathways to Pluralism About Biological Individuality.Beckett Sterner - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (5):609-628.
    What are the prospects for a monistic view of biological individuality given the multiple epistemic roles the concept must satisfy? In this paper, I examine the epistemic adequacy of two recent accounts based on the capacity to undergo natural selection. One is from Ellen Clarke, and the other is by Peter Godfrey-Smith. Clarke’s position reflects a strong monism, in that she aims to characterize individuality in purely functional terms and refrains from privileging any specific material properties as important in their (...)
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  • Current Perspectives in Philosophy of Biology.Joaquin Suarez Ruiz & Rodrigo A. Lopez Orellana - 2019 - Humanities Journal of Valparaiso 14:7-426.
    Current Perspectives in Philosophy of Biology.
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  • Realization: Metaphysics, Mind, and Science.Robert A. Wilson - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):985-996.
    This paper surveys some recent work on realization in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of science.
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  • Trashing Life’s Tree.L. R. Franklin-Hall - 2010 - Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):689-709.
    The Tree of Life has traditionally been understood to represent the history of species lineages. However, recently researchers have suggested that it might be better interpreted as representing the history of cellular lineages, sometimes called the Tree of Cells. This paper examines and evaluates reasons offered against this cellular interpretation of the Tree of Life. It argues that some such reasons are bad reasons, based either on a false attribution of essentialism, on a misunderstanding of the problem of lineage identity, (...)
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  • How Not to Resist the Natural Kind Talk in Biology.María J. Ferreira Ruiz - 2019 - Quaderns de Filosofia 6 (1):47.
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  • Quaderns de Filosofia VI, 1.Quad Fia - 2019 - Quaderns de Filosofia 6 (1).
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  • Darwinism Without Populations: A More Inclusive Understanding of the “Survival of the Fittest”.Frédéric Bouchard - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (1):106-114.
    Following Wallace’s suggestion, Darwin framed his theory using Spencer’s expression “survival of the fittest”. Since then, fitness occupies a significant place in the conventional understanding of Darwinism, even though the explicit meaning of the term ‘fitness’ is rarely stated. In this paper I examine some of the different roles that fitness has played in the development of the theory. Whereas the meaning of fitness was originally understood in ecological terms, it took a statistical turn in terms of reproductive success throughout (...)
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  • Pluto and the Platypus: An Odd Ball and an Odd Duck — On Classificatory Norms.Matthew H. Slater - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 61:1-10.
    Some astronomers believe that we have discovered that Pluto is not a planet. I contest this assessment. Recent discoveries of trans-Neptunian Pluto-sized objects do not require that we exclude Pluto from the planets. But the obvious alternative, that classificatory revision is a matter of arbitrary choice, is also unpalatable. I argue that this classificatory controversy — which I compare to the controversy about the classification of the platypus — illustrates how our classificatory practices are laden with normative commitments of a (...)
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  • Thinking About Relations: Strathern, Sahlins, and Locke on Anthropological Knowledge.Robert A. Wilson - 2016 - Anthropological Theory 4 (16):327-349.
    John Locke is known within anthropology primarily for his empiricism, his views of natural laws, and his discussion of the state of nature and the social contract. Marilyn Strathern and Marshall Sahlins, however, have offered distinctive, novel, and broad reflections on the nature of anthropological knowledge that appeal explicitly to a lesser-known aspect of Locke’s work: his metaphysical views of relations. This paper examines their distinctive conclusions – Sahlins’ about cultural relativism, Strathern’s about relatives and kinship – both of which (...)
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  • Cognitive Adaptation: Insights From a Pragmatist Perspective.Jay Schulkin - 2008 - Contemporary Pragmatism 5 (1):39-59.
    Classical pragmatism construed mind as an adaptive organ rooted in biology; biology was not one side and culture on the other. The cognitive systems underlie adaptation in response to the precarious and in the search for the stable and more secure that result in diverse forms of inquiry. Cognitive systems are rooted in action, and classical pragmatism knotted our sense of ourselves in response to nature and our cultural evolution. Cognitive systems should be demythologized away from Cartesian detachment, and towards (...)
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  • Collective Memory, Group Minds, and the Extended Mind Thesis.Robert A. Wilson - 2005 - Cognitive Processing 6 (4).
    While memory is conceptualized predominantly as an individual capacity in the cognitive and biological sciences, the social sciences have most commonly construed memory as a collective phenomenon. Collective memory has been put to diverse uses, ranging from accounts of nationalism in history and political science to views of ritualization and commemoration in anthropology and sociology. These appeals to collective memory share the idea that memory ‘‘goes beyond the individual’’ but often run together quite different claims in spelling out that idea. (...)
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