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Christophe Malaterre
Université Du Québec À Montréal (UQAM)
Christophe Malaterre
Université du Québec à Montreal
  1. Functional Diversity: An Epistemic Roadmap.Christophe Malaterre, Antoine C. Dussault, Sophia Rousseau-Mermans, Gillian Barker, Beatrix E. Beisner, Frédéric Bouchard, Eric Desjardins, Tanya I. Handa, Steven W. Kembel, Geneviève Lajoie, Virginie Maris, Alison D. Munson, Jay Odenbaugh, Timothée Poisot, B. Jesse Shapiro & Curtis A. Suttle - 2019 - BioScience 10 (69):800-811.
    Functional diversity holds the promise of understanding ecosystems in ways unattainable by taxonomic diversity studies. Underlying this promise is the intuition that investigating the diversity of what organisms actually do—i.e. their functional traits—within ecosystems will generate more reliable insights into the ways these ecosystems behave, compared to considering only species diversity. But this promise also rests on several conceptual and methodological—i.e. epistemic—assumptions that cut across various theories and domains of ecology. These assumptions should be clearly addressed, notably for the sake (...)
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  2.  79
    What is This Thing Called Philosophy of Science? A Computational Topic-Modeling Perspective, 1934–2015.Christophe Malaterre, Jean-François Chartier & Davide Pulizzotto - 2019 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 9 (2):215-249.
    What is philosophy of science? Numerous manuals, anthologies or essays provide carefully reconstructed vantage points on the discipline that have been gained through expert and piecemeal historical analyses. In this paper, we address the question from a complementary perspective: we target the content of one major journal of the field—Philosophy of Science—and apply unsupervised text-mining methods to its complete corpus, from its start in 1934 until 2015. By running topic-modeling algorithms over the full-text corpus, we identified 126 key research topics (...)
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  3. Microbial Diversity and the “Lower-Limit” Problem of Biodiversity.Christophe Malaterre - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (2):219-239.
    Science is now studying biodiversity on a massive scale. These studies are occurring not just at the scale of larger plants and animals, but also at the scale of minute entities such as bacteria and viruses. This expansion has led to the development of a specific sub-field of “microbial diversity”. In this paper, I investigate how microbial diversity faces two of the classical issues encountered by the concept of “ biodiversity ”: the issues of defining the units of biodiversity and (...)
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  4. Making Sense of Downward Causation in Manipulationism (with Illustrations From Cancer Research).Christophe Malaterre - 2011 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences (33):537-562.
    Many researchers consider cancer to have molecular causes, namely mutated genes that result in abnormal cell proliferation (e.g. Weinberg 1998). For others, the causes of cancer are to be found not at the molecular level but at the tissue level where carcinogenesis consists of disrupted tissue organization with downward causation effects on cells and cellular components (e.g. Sonnenschein and Soto 2008). In this contribution, I ponder how to make sense of such downward causation claims. Adopting a manipulationist account of causation (...)
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  5.  68
    Beyond Categorical Definitions of Life: A Data-Driven Approach to Assessing Lifeness.Christophe Malaterre & Jean-François Chartier - forthcoming - Synthese.
    The concept of “life” certainly is of some use to distinguish birds and beavers from water and stones. This pragmatic usefulness has led to its construal as a categorical predicate that can sift out living entities from non-living ones depending on their possessing specific properties—reproduction, metabolism, evolvability etc. In this paper, we argue against this binary construal of life. Using text-mining methods across over 30,000 scientific articles, we defend instead a degrees-of-life view and show how these methods can contribute to (...)
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  6. Synthetic Biology and Synthetic Knowledge.Christophe Malaterre - 2013 - Biological Theory (8):346–356.
    Probably the most distinctive feature of synthetic biology is its being “synthetic” in some sense or another. For some, synthesis plays a unique role in the production of knowledge that is most distinct from that played by analysis: it is claimed to deliver knowledge that would otherwise not be attained. In this contribution, my aim is to explore how synthetic biology delivers knowledge via synthesis, and to assess the extent to which this knowledge is distinctly synthetic. On the basis of (...)
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  7. Lifeness Signatures and the Roots of the Tree of Life.Christophe Malaterre - 2010 - Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):643-658.
    Do trees of life have roots? What do these roots look like? In this contribution, I argue that research on the origins of life might offer glimpses on the topology of these very roots. More specifically, I argue (1) that the roots of the tree of life go well below the level of the commonly mentioned ‘ancestral organisms’ down into the level of much simpler, minimally living entities that might be referred to as ‘protoliving systems’, and (2) that further below, (...)
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  8.  49
    Making Sense of Downward Causation in Manipulationism. Illustrations From Cancer Research.Christophe Malaterre - 2011 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 4 (33):537-562.
    Many researchers consider cancer to have molecular causes, namely mutated genes that result in abnormal cell proliferation (e.g. Weinberg 1998); yet for others, the causes of cancer are to be found not at the molecular level but at the tissue level and carcinogenesis would consist in a disrupted tissue organization with downward causation effects on cells and cellular components (e.g. Sonnenschein & Soto 2008). In this contribution, I ponder how to make sense of such downward causation claims. Adopting a manipulationist (...)
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  9. On What It is to Fly Can Tell Us Something About What It is to Live.Christophe Malaterre - 2010 - Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres 40 (2):169-177.
    The plurality of definitions of life is often perceived as an unsatisfying situation stemming from still incomplete knowledge about ‘what it is to live’ as well as from the existence of a variety of methods for reaching a definition. For many, such plurality is to be remedied and the search for a unique and fully satisfactory definition of life pursued. In this contribution on the contrary, it is argued that the existence of such a variety of definitions of life undermines (...)
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  10. Can Synthetic Biology Shed Light on the Origin of Life?Christophe Malaterre - 2009 - Biological Theory 4 (4):357-367.
    It is a most commonly accepted hypothesis that life originated from inanimate matter, somehow being a synthetic product of organic aggregates, and as such, a result of some sort of prebiotic synthetic biology. In the past decades, the newly formed scientific discipline of synthetic biology has set ambitious goals by pursuing the complete design and production of genetic circuits, entire genomes or even whole organisms. In this paper, I argue that synthetic biology might also shed some novel and interesting perspectives (...)
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  11. Are Self-Organizing Biochemical Networks Emergent?Christophe Malaterre - 2009 - In Maryvonne Gérin & Marie-Christine Maurel (eds.), Origins of Life: Self-Organization and/or Biological Evolution? EDP Sciences. pp. 117--123.
    Biochemical networks are often called upon to illustrate emergent properties of living systems. In this contribution, I question such emergentist claims by means of theoretical work on genetic regulatory models and random Boolean networks. If the existence of a critical connectivity Kc of such networks has often been coined “emergent” or “irreducible”, I propose on the contrary that the existence of a critical connectivity Kc is indeed mathematically explainable in network theory. This conclusion also applies to many other types of (...)
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