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Charles H. Pence
Université Catholique de Louvain
  1. A New Foundation for the Propensity Interpretation of Fitness.Charles H. Pence & Grant Ramsey - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (4):851-881.
    The propensity interpretation of fitness (PIF) is commonly taken to be subject to a set of simple counterexamples. We argue that three of the most important of these are not counterexamples to the PIF itself, but only to the traditional mathematical model of this propensity: fitness as expected number of offspring. They fail to demonstrate that a new mathematical model of the PIF could not succeed where this older model fails. We then propose a new formalization of the PIF that (...)
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  2. Sir John F. W. Herschel and Charles Darwin: Nineteenth-Century Science and Its Methodology.Charles H. Pence - 2018 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 8 (1):108-140.
    There are a bewildering variety of claims connecting Darwin to nineteenth-century philosophy of science—including to Herschel, Whewell, Lyell, German Romanticism, Comte, and others. I argue here that Herschel’s influence on Darwin is undeniable. The form of this influence, however, is often misunderstood. Darwin was not merely taking the concept of “analogy” from Herschel, nor was he combining such an analogy with a consilience as argued for by Whewell. On the contrary, Darwin’s Origin is written in precisely the manner that one (...)
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  3.  15
    Locating Uncertainty in Stochastic Evolutionary Models: Divergence Time Estimation.Charles H. Pence - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (2):21.
    Philosophers of biology have worked extensively on how we ought best to interpret the probabilities which arise throughout evolutionary theory. In spite of this substantial work, however, much of the debate has remained persistently intractable. I offer the example of Bayesian models of divergence time estimation as a case study in how we might bring further resources from the biological literature to bear on these debates. These models offer us an example in which a number of different sources of uncertainty (...)
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  4.  16
    Buckets From an English Sea: 1832 and the Making of Charles Darwin by Louis B. Rosenblatt. [REVIEW]Charles H. Pence - 2018 - The Quarterly Review of Biology 93 (4):356.
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  5.  59
    evoText: A New Tool for Analyzing the Biological Sciences.Grant Ramsey & Charles H. Pence - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 57:83-87.
    We introduce here evoText, a new tool for automated analysis of the literature in the biological sciences. evoText contains a database of hundreds of thousands of journal articles and an array of analysis tools for generating quantitative data on the nature and history of life science, especially ecology and evolutionary biology. This article describes the features of evoText, presents a variety of examples of the kinds of analyses that evoText can run, and offers a brief tutorial describing how to use (...)
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  6. Nietzsche’s Aesthetic Critique of Darwin.Charles H. Pence - 2011 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 33 (2):165-190.
    Despite his position as one of the first philosophers to write in the “post- Darwinian” world, the critique of Darwin by Friedrich Nietzsche is often ignored for a host of unsatisfactory reasons. I argue that Nietzsche’s critique of Darwin is important to the study of both Nietzsche’s and Darwin’s impact on philosophy. Further, I show that the central claims of Nietzsche’s critique have been broadly misunderstood. I then present a new reading of Nietzsche’s core criticism of Darwin. An important part (...)
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  7. ‘‘Describing Our Whole Experience’’: The Statistical Philosophies of W. F. R. Weldon and Karl Pearson.Charles H. Pence - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (4):475-485.
    There are two motivations commonly ascribed to historical actors for taking up statistics: to reduce complicated data to a mean value (e.g., Quetelet), and to take account of diversity (e.g., Galton). Different motivations will, it is assumed, lead to different methodological decisions in the practice of the statistical sciences. Karl Pearson and W. F. R. Weldon are generally seen as following directly in Galton’s footsteps. I argue for two related theses in light of this standard interpretation, based on a reading (...)
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  8.  34
    How to Do Digital Philosophy of Science.Charles H. Pence & Grant Ramsey - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (5):930-941.
    Philosophy of science is beginning to be expanded via the introduction of new digital resources—both data and tools for its analysis. The data comprise digitized published books and journal articles, as well as heretofore unpublished and recently digitized material, such as images, archival text, notebooks, meeting notes, and programs. This growing bounty of data would be of little use, however, without quality tools with which to analyze it. Fortunately, the growth in available data is matched by the extensive development of (...)
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  9.  35
    Origins of Darwin’s Evolution: Solving the Species Puzzle Through Time and Place. [REVIEW]Charles H. Pence - 2018 - Quarterly Review of Biology 93 (2):128-129.
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  10. Fitness: Philosophical Problems.Grant Ramsey & Charles H. Pence - 2013 - eLS.
    Fitness plays many roles throughout evolutionary theory, from a measure of populations in the wild to a central element in abstract theoretical presentations of natural selection. It has thus been the subject of an extensive philosophical literature, which has primarily centered on the way to understand the relationship between fitness values and reproductive outcomes. If fitness is a probabilistic or statistical quantity, how is it to be defined in general theoretical contexts? How can it be measured? Can a single conceptual (...)
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  11. Oyun: A New, Free Program for Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma Tournaments in the Classroom.Charles H. Pence & Lara Buchak - 2012 - Evolution Education and Outreach 5 (3):467-476.
    Evolutionary applications of game theory present one of the most pedagogically accessible varieties of genuine, contemporary theoretical biology. We present here Oyun (OY-oon, http://charlespence.net/oyun), a program designed to run iterated prisoner’s dilemma tournaments, competitions between prisoner’s dilemma strategies developed by the students themselves. Using this software, students are able to readily design and tweak their own strategies, and to see how they fare both in round-robin tournaments and in “evolutionary” tournaments, where the scores in a given “generation” directly determine contribution (...)
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  12.  65
    Military Genomic Testing: Proportionality, Expected Benefits, and the Connection Between Genotypes and Phenotypes.Charles H. Pence - 2015 - Journal of Law and the Biosciences 2 (1):85-91.
    Mehlman and Li offer a framework for approaching the bioethical issues raised by the military use of genomics that is compellingly grounded in both the contemporary civilian and military ethics of medical research, arguing that military commanders must be bound by the two principles of paternal- ism and proportionality. I agree fully. But I argue here that this is a much higher bar than we may fully realize. Just as the principle of proportionality relies upon a thorough assessment of harms (...)
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