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  1. A framework for philosophical biology.Sepehr Ehsani - manuscript
    Advances in biology, at least over the past two centuries, have mostly relied on theories that were subsequently revised, expanded or eventually refuted using experimental and other means. The field of theoretical biology used to primarily provide a basis, similar to theoretical physics in the physical sciences, to rationally examine the frameworks within which biological experiments were carried out and to shed light on overlooked gaps in understanding. Today, however, theoretical biology has generally become synonymous with computational and mathematical biology. (...)
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  2. Eye-contact and complex dynamic systems: an hypothesis on autism's direct cause and a clinical study addressing prevention.Maxson J. McDowell - manuscript
    (This version was submitted to Behavioral and Brain Science. A revised version was published by Biological Theory) Estimates of autism’s incidence increased 5-10 fold in ten years, an increase which cannot be genetic. Though many mutations are associated with autism, no mutation seems directly to cause autism. We need to find the direct cause. Complexity science provides a new paradigm - confirmed in biology by extensive hard data. Both the body and the personality are complex dynamic systems which spontaneously self-organize (...)
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  3. Is Genetic Drift a Force?Charles H. Pence - manuscript
    One hotly debated philosophical question in the analysis of evolutionary theory concerns whether or not evolution and the various factors which constitute it may profitably be considered as analogous to “forces” in the traditional, Newtonian sense. Several compelling arguments assert that the force picture is incoherent, due to the peculiar nature of genetic drift. I consider two of those arguments here – that drift lacks a predictable direction, and that drift is constitutive of evolutionary systems – and show that they (...)
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  4. The Explanatory Role of Umwelt in Evolutionary Theory: Introducing von Baer's Reflections on Teleological Development.Tiago Rama - manuscript
    Abstract: This paper argues that a central explanatory role for the concept of Umwelt in theoretical biology is to be found in developmental biology, in particular in the effort to understand development as a goal-directed and adaptive process that is controlled by the organism itself. I will reach this conclusion in two (interrelated) ways. The first is purely theoretical and relates to the current scenario in the philosophy of biology. Challenging neo-Darwinism requires a new understanding of the various components involved (...)
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  5. A Cognitive Revolution in Theoretical Biology? (preprint).Tiago Rama - manuscript
    The foundations of biology have been a topic of debate for the past few decades. The traditional perspective of the Modern Synthesis, which portrays organisms as passive entities with limited role in evolutionary theory, is giving way to a new paradigm where organisms are recognized as active agents, actively shaping their own phenotypic traits for adaptive purposes. Within this context, this article raises the question of whether contemporary biological theory is undergoing a cognitive revolution. This inquiry can be approached in (...)
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  6. THE ROLE OF TIME IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF BIO-MATERIALS: A NOVEL INSIGHT.Varanasi Ramabrahmam - manuscript
    Various understandings and definitions of time will be reviewed. The nature and structure of time will be reviewed and the concepts of time and passage of time will be refreshed. The fundamental role played by energy and four natural forces in the actions, reactions and interactions concerning matter, anti-matter, energy in space and time will be critically analyzed. The reality how time is constructed during the construction of materials will be presented and discussed. The classical and quantum ideas in this (...)
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  7. A Formal Model of Primitive Aspects of Cognition and Learning in Cell Biology as a Generalizable Case Study of Peircean Logic.Timothy M. Rogers - manuscript
    A formal model of the processes of digestion in a hypothetical cell is developed and discussed as a case study of how the threefold logic of Peircean semiotics works within Rosen’s paradigm of relational ontology. The formal model is used to demonstrate several fundamental differences between a relational description of biological processes and a mechanistic description. The formal model produces a logic of embodied generalization that is mediated and determined by the cell through its interactions with the environment. Specifically, the (...)
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  8. Causal Specificity, Biological Possibility and Non-parity about Genetic Causes.Marcel Weber - manuscript
    Several authors have used the notion of causal specificity in order to defend non-parity about genetic causes (Waters 2007, Woodward 2010, Weber 2017, forthcoming). Non-parity in this context is the idea that DNA and some other biomolecules that are often described as information-bearers by biologists play a unique role in life processes, an idea that has been challenged by Developmental Systems Theory (e.g., Oyama 2000). Indeed, it has proven to be quite difficult to state clearly what the alleged special role (...)
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  9. Causal Control: A Rationale for Causal Selection.Lauren N. Ross - 2015
    Causal selection has to do with the distinction we make between background conditions and “the” true cause or causes of some outcome of interest. A longstanding consensus in philosophy views causal selection as lacking any objective rationale and as guided, instead, by arbitrary, pragmatic, and non-scientific considerations. I argue against this position in the context of causal selection for disease traits. In this domain, causes are selected on the basis of the type of causal control they exhibit over a disease (...)
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  10. Theory of evolution and historical explanation in biology.Keyvan Alasti - forthcoming - Philosophical Investigations.
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  11. Explaining Experience In Nature: The Foundations Of Logic And Apprehension.Steven Ericsson-Zenith - forthcoming - Institute for Advanced Science & Engineering.
    At its core this book is concerned with logic and computation with respect to the mathematical characterization of sentient biophysical structure and its behavior. -/- Three related theories are presented: The first of these provides an explanation of how sentient individuals come to be in the world. The second describes how these individuals operate. And the third proposes a method for reasoning about the behavior of individuals in groups. -/- These theories are based upon a new explanation of experience in (...)
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  12. The Ontic-Epistemic Debates of Explanation Revisited: The Three-Dimensional Approach.Jinyeong Gim - forthcoming - Philosophical Problems in Science (Zfn).
    After Wesley Salmon’s causal-mechanical stance on explanation in the 1980s, the ontic-epistemic debate of scientific explanations appeared to be resolved in the philosophy of science. However, since the twenty-first century, this debate has been rekindled among philosophers who focus on mechanistic explanations. Nevertheless, its issues have evolved, necessitating scrutiny of the new trends in this debate and a comparison with the original controversy between Carl Hempel and Salmon. The primary objective of this paper is to elucidate three categorical dimensions in (...)
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  13. Biological Machines: A Qualified Defense.Arnon Levy - forthcoming - Biology and Philosophy.
    I offer a defense, albeit a qualified one, of machine analogies in biology, focusing on molecular contexts. The defense is rooted in prior work (Levy 2014), which construes the machine machine-likeness of a system as a matter of the extent to which it exhibits an internal division of labor. A concrete aim is to shore up the notion of molecular biological machines, and I’ll pay special attention to processive molecular motors, such as Kinesin. But I will also try to show (...)
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  14. The Reference Class Problem in Evolutionary Biology: Distinguishing Selection from Drift.Michael Strevens - forthcoming - In Charles Pence & Grant Ramsey (eds.), Chance in Evolution.
    Evolutionary biology distinguishes differences in survival and reproduction rates due to selection from those due to drift. The distinction is usually thought to be founded in probabilistic facts: a difference in (say) two variants' average lifespans over some period of time that is due to selection is explained by differences in the probabilities relevant to survival; in the purest cases of drift, by contrast, the survival probabilities are equal and the difference in lifespans is a matter of chance. When there (...)
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  15. Causal Selection versus Causal Parity in Biology: Relevant Counterfactuals and Biologically Normal Interventions.Marcel Weber - forthcoming - In Brian J. Hanley & C. Kenneth Waters (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Causal Reasoning in Biology. Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science. Vol. XXI. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
    Causal selection is the task of picking out, from a field of known causally relevant factors, some factors as elements of an explanation. The Causal Parity Thesis in the philosophy of biology challenges the usual ways of making such selections among different causes operating in a developing organism. The main target of this thesis is usually gene centrism, the doctrine that genes play some special role in ontogeny, which is often described in terms of information-bearing or programming. This paper is (...)
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  16. The conceptual foundation of the propensity interpretation of fitness.Zachary J. Mayne - 2024 - Synthese 203 (10).
    The propensity interpretation of fitness (PIF) holds that evolutionary fitness is an objectively probabilistic causal disposition (i.e., a propensity) toward reproductive success. I characterize this as the conceptual foundation of the PIF. Reproductive propensities are meant to explain trends in actual reproductive outcomes. In this paper, I analyze the minimal theoretical and ontological commitments that must accompany the explanatory power afforded by the PIF’s foundation. I discuss three senses in which these commitments are less burdensome than has typically been recognized: (...)
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  17. Hyperthermia-Induced Vasoconstriction: A Physiological Counter Mechanism.Rowena Kong - 2023 - Journal of Psychiatry and Psychology Research 6 (S2):4.
    The paradoxical phenomena of hyperthermia-induced vasoconstriction, hyperthermia- induced hypothermia, and hyperthermia induced arterial vasoconstriction have been observed in animal heatstroke clinical case studies. We attempt to explain the basic mechanism behind such findings in terms of the principle of body heat conservation and natural countermeasure against heat exposure through reduction in the extent of vascular surface area exposed. One study which examined the outcome of heating a rabbit carotid artery produced graded vasoconstriction which is proportional to temperature increase. These interesting (...)
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  18. Decoupling Topological Explanations from Mechanisms.Daniel Kostic & Kareem Khalifa - 2023 - Philosophy of Science 90 (2):245 - 268.
    We provide three innovations to recent debates about whether topological or “network” explanations are a species of mechanistic explanation. First, we more precisely characterize the requirement that all topological explanations are mechanistic explanations and show scientific practice to belie such a requirement. Second, we provide an account that unifies mechanistic and non-mechanistic topological explanations, thereby enriching both the mechanist and autonomist programs by highlighting when and where topological explanations are mechanistic. Third, we defend this view against some powerful mechanist objections. (...)
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  19. Counterpossibles in science: an experimental study.Brian McLoone, Cassandra Grützner & Michael T. Stuart - 2023 - Synthese 201 (1):1-20.
    A counterpossible is a counterfactual whose antecedent is impossible. The vacuity thesis says all counterpossibles are true solely because their antecedents are impossible. Recently, some have rejected the vacuity thesis by citing purported non-vacuous counterpossibles in science. One limitation of this work, however, is that it is not grounded in experimental data. Do scientists actually reason non-vacuously about counterpossibles? If so, what is their basis for doing so? We presented biologists (N = 86) with two counterfactual formulations of a well-known (...)
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  20. Structure and Function.Rose Novick - 2023 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    The history of biology is mottled with disputes between two distinct approaches to the organic world: structuralism and functionalism. Their persistence across radical theory change makes them difficult to characterize: the characterization must be abstract enough to capture biologists with diverse theoretical commitments, yet not so abstract as to be vacuous. This Element develops a novel account of structuralism and functionalism in terms of explanatory strategies (Section 2). This reveals the possibility of integrating the two strategies; the explanatory successes of (...)
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  21. Populations of Neurons and Rocks? Against a Generalization of the Selected Effects Theory of Functions.Jakob Roloff - 2023 - Kriterion – Journal of Philosophy 37 (2-4):69-87.
    Millikan’s (1984. Language, Thought, and Other Biological Categories: New Foundations for Realism. MIT Press) selected effects theory of functions states that functions are effects for which the ancestors of a trait were selected for. As the function is an effect a thing’s ancestors produced, only things that are reproductions in some sense can have functions. Against this reproduction requirement, Garson (2019. What Biological Functions Are and Why They Matter. Cambridge University Press) argues that not only processes of differential reproduction but (...)
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  22. What’s at stake in the debate over naturalizing teleology? An overlooked metatheoretical debate.Carl Sachs & Auguste Nahas - 2023 - Synthese 201 (4):1-22.
    Recent accounts of teleological naturalism hold that organisms are intrinsically goaldirected entities. We argue that supporters and critics of this view have ignored the ways in which it is used to address quite different problems. One problem is about biology and concerns whether an organism-centered account of teleological ascriptions would improve our descriptions and explanations of biological phenomena. This is different from the philosophical problem of how naturalized teleology would affect our conception of nature, and of ourselves as natural beings. (...)
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  23. An account of conserved functions and how biologists use them to integrate cell and evolutionary biology.Jeremy G. Wideman, Steve Elliott & Beckett Sterner - 2023 - Biology and Philosophy 38 (5):1-23.
    We characterize a type of functional explanation that addresses why a homologous trait originating deep in the evolutionary history of a group remains widespread and largely unchanged across the group’s lineages. We argue that biologists regularly provide this type of explanation when they attribute conserved functions to phenotypic and genetic traits. The concept of conserved function applies broadly to many biological domains, and we illustrate its importance using examples of molecular sequence alignments at the intersection of evolution and cell biology. (...)
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  24. Control Mechanisms: Explaining the Integration and Versatility of Biological Organisms.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2022 - Adaptive Behavior.
    Living organisms act as integrated wholes to maintain themselves. Individual actions can each be explained by characterizing the mechanisms that perform the activity. But these alone do not explain how various activities are coordinated and performed versatilely. We argue that this depends on a specific type of mechanism, a control mechanism. We develop an account of control by examining several extensively studied control mechanisms operative in the bacterium E. coli. On our analysis, what distinguishes a control mechanism from other mechanisms (...)
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  25. Organization needs organization: Understanding integrated control in living organisms.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 93:96-106.
    Organization figures centrally in the understanding of biological systems advanced by both new mechanists and proponents of the autonomy framework. The new mechanists focus on how components of mechanisms are organized to produce a phenomenon and emphasize productive continuity between these components. The autonomy framework focuses on how the components of a biological system are organized in such a way that they contribute to the maintenance of the organisms that produce them. In this paper we analyze and compare these two (...)
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  26. Mechanisms in Science: Method or Metaphysics?Stavros Ioannidis & Stathis Psillos - 2022 - New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Stathis Psillos.
    In recent years what has come to be called the 'New Mechanism' has emerged as a framework for thinking about the philosophical assumptions underlying many areas of science, especially in sciences such as biology, neuroscience, and psychology. This book offers a fresh look at the role of mechanisms, by situating novel analyses of central philosophical issues related to mechanisms within a rich historical perspective of the concept of mechanism as well as detailed case studies of biological mechanisms. It develops a (...)
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  27. Topological Explanations: An Opinionated Appraisal.Daniel Kostić - 2022 - In I. Lawler, E. Shech & K. Khalifa (eds.), Scientific Understanding and Representation: Modeling in the Physical Sciences. Routledge. pp. 96-115.
    This chapter provides a systematic overview of topological explanations in the philosophy of science literature. It does so by presenting an account of topological explanation that I (Kostić and Khalifa 2021; Kostić 2020a; 2020b; 2018) have developed in other publications and then comparing this account to other accounts of topological explanation. Finally, this appraisal is opinionated because it highlights some problems in alternative accounts of topological explanations, and also it outlines responses to some of the main criticisms raised by the (...)
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  28. Free energy: a user’s guide.Stephen Francis Mann, Ross Pain & Michael D. Kirchhoff - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (4):1-35.
    Over the last fifteen years, an ambitious explanatory framework has been proposed to unify explanations across biology and cognitive science. Active inference, whose most famous tenet is the free energy principle, has inspired excitement and confusion in equal measure. Here, we lay the ground for proper critical analysis of active inference, in three ways. First, we give simplified versions of its core mathematical models. Second, we outline the historical development of active inference and its relationship to other theoretical approaches. Third, (...)
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  29. Vitalism and Cognition in a Conscious Universe.Marco Masi - 2022 - Communicative and Integrative Biology 1 (15):121-136.
    According to the current scientific paradigm, what we call ‘life’, ‘mind’, and ‘consciousness’ are considered epiphenomenal occurrences, or emergent properties or functions of matter and energy. Science does not associate these with an inherent and distinct existence beyond a materialistic/energetic conception. ‘Life’ is a word pointing at cellular and multicellular processes forming organisms capable of specific functions and skills. ‘Mind’ is a cognitive ability emerging from a matrix of complex interactions of neuronal processes, while ‘consciousness’ is an even more elusive (...)
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  30. Natural goodness without natural history.Parisa Moosavi - 2022 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research:78-100.
    Neo‐Aristotelian ethical naturalism purports to show that moral evaluation of human action and character is an evaluation of natural goodness—a kind of evaluation that applies to living things in virtue of their nature and based on their form of life. The standard neo‐Aristotelian view defines natural goodness by way of generic statements describing the natural history, or the ‘characteristic’ life, of a species. In this paper, I argue that this conception of natural goodness commits the neo‐Aristotelian view to a problematic (...)
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  31. Understanding life through metaphors. [REVIEW]Bartlomiej Swiatczak - 2022 - Metascience 2022:1-3.
    There is a deep-seated neopositivist view which regards the language of science as a neutral medium of communication, radically different from indirect symbolic forms of discourse characteristic of arts and humanities. But naturalists, like poets and social scientists, also draw on the dominant images in their culture to organize their thoughts and simplify complex concepts. By conceptualizing one thing in terms of another, metaphors in science not only aid mutual communication between researchers but also structure their understanding of experience and (...)
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  32. Immunoglobulins and Antibodies: Conceptual Projections All the Way Down.Bartlomiej Swiatczak - 2022 - Constructivist Foundations 18 (1):85-86.
    Central to vaccination-induced responses, antibodies are suggested by Vaz to operate as observer-dependent entities that owe their status to categorization schemes of immunologists. Inspired by color research by Maturana, he argues that antibodies should be distinguished from immunoglobulins, which unlike the former can be considered as constituents of structural dynamics of an organism, products of millions of years of evolution. However, a deeper understanding of the historical roots of the concept of immunoglobulin and associated “languaging” and naming processes reveals that (...)
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  33. Coherent Causal Control: A New Distinction within Causation.Marcel Weber - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (4):69.
    The recent literature on causality has seen the introduction of several distinctions within causality, which are thought to be important for understanding the widespread scientific practice of focusing causal explanations on a subset of the factors that are causally relevant for a phenomenon. Concepts used to draw such distinctions include, among others, stability, specificity, proportionality, or actual-difference making. In this contribution, I propose a new distinction that picks out an explanatorily salient class of causes in biological systems. Some select causes (...)
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  34. Philosophy of Developmental Biology.Marcel Weber - 2022 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    The history of developmental biology is interwoven with debates as to whether mechanistic explanations of development are possible or whether alternative explanatory principles or even vital forces need to be assumed. In particular, the demonstrated ability of embryonic cells to tune their developmental fate precisely to their relative position and the overall size of the embryo was once thought to be inexplicable in mechanistic terms. Taking a causal perspective, this Element examines to what extent and how developmental biology, having turned (...)
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  35. Continuing After Species: An Afterword.Robert A. Wilson - 2022 - In John S. Wilkins, Igor Pavlinov & Frank Zachos (eds.), Species Problems and Beyond: Contemporary Issues in Philosophy and Practice. New York: Routledge. pp. 343-353.
    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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  36. Revisiting abstraction and idealization: how not to criticize mechanistic explanation in molecular biology.Martin Zach - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (1):1-20.
    Abstraction and idealization are the two notions that are most often discussed in the context of assumptions employed in the process of model building. These notions are also routinely used in philosophical debates such as that on the mechanistic account of explanation. Indeed, an objection to the mechanistic account has recently been formulated precisely on these grounds: mechanists cannot account for the common practice of idealizing difference-making factors in models in molecular biology. In this paper I revisit the debate and (...)
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  37. An externalist teleology.Gunnar Babcock & Daniel W. McShea - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):8755-8780.
    Teleology has a complicated history in the biological sciences. Some have argued that Darwin’s theory has allowed biology to purge itself of teleological explanations. Others have been content to retain teleology and to treat it as metaphorical, or have sought to replace it with less problematic notions like teleonomy. And still others have tried to naturalize it in a way that distances it from the vitalism of the nineteenth century, focusing on the role that function plays in teleological explanation. No (...)
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  38. Autonomous Systems and the Place of Biology Among Sciences. Perspectives for an Epistemology of Complex Systems.Leonardo Bich - 2021 - In Gianfranco Minati (ed.), Multiplicity and Interdisciplinarity. Essays in Honor of Eliano Pessa. Springer. pp. 41-57.
    This paper discusses the epistemic status of biology from the standpoint of the systemic approach to living systems based on the notion of biological autonomy. This approach aims to provide an understanding of the distinctive character of biological systems and this paper analyses its theoretical and epistemological dimensions. The paper argues that, considered from this perspective, biological systems are examples of emergent phenomena, that the biological domain exhibits special features with respect to other domains, and that biology as a discipline (...)
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  39. Mechanism, autonomy and biological explanation.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (6):1-27.
    The new mechanists and the autonomy approach both aim to account for how biological phenomena are explained. One identifies appeals to how components of a mechanism are organized so that their activities produce a phenomenon. The other directs attention towards the whole organism and focuses on how it achieves self-maintenance. This paper discusses challenges each confronts and how each could benefit from collaboration with the other: the new mechanistic framework can gain by taking into account what happens outside individual mechanisms, (...)
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  40. To Marvel at the Manifold Connections: Philosophy, Biology, and Laudato Si’.Louis Caruana - 2021 - Gregorianum 102 (3):617-631.
    One of the aims of the encyclical "Laudato Si’" is to help us “marvel at the manifold connections existing among creatures”, to show how we are also involved, and to motivate us thereby to care for our common home. Are there new dimensions of beauty available to us today because of recent advances in biology? In this paper I seek to answer this question by first recalling the basic criteria for beauty, as expressed by Aristotle and Aquinas, and then evaluating (...)
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  41. First principles in the life sciences: the free-energy principle, organicism, and mechanism.Matteo Colombo & Cory Wright - 2021 - Synthese 198 (14):3463–3488.
    The free-energy principle states that all systems that minimize their free energy resist a tendency to physical disintegration. Originally proposed to account for perception, learning, and action, the free-energy principle has been applied to the evolution, development, morphology, anatomy and function of the brain, and has been called a postulate, an unfalsifiable principle, a natural law, and an imperative. While it might afford a theoretical foundation for understanding the relationship between environment, life, and mind, its epistemic status is unclear. Also (...)
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  42. Wishful Intelligibility, Black Boxes, and Epidemiological Explanation.Marina DiMarco - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (5):824-834.
    Epidemiological explanation often has a “black box” character, meaning the intermediate steps between cause and effect are unknown. Filling in black boxes is thought to improve causal inferences by making them intelligible. I argue that adding information about intermediate causes to a black box explanation is an unreliable guide to pragmatic intelligibility because it may mislead us about the stability of a cause. I diagnose a problem that I call wishful intelligibility, which occurs when scientists misjudge the limitations of certain (...)
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  43. The meaning of "cause" in genetics.Kate E. Lynch - 2021 - Combining Human Genetics and Causal Inference to Understand Human Disease and Development. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine.
    Causation has multiple distinct meanings in genetics. One reason for this is meaning slippage between two concepts of the gene: Mendelian and molecular. Another reason is that a variety of genetic methods address different kinds of causal relationships. Some genetic studies address causes of traits in individuals, which can only be assessed when single genes follow predictable inheritance patterns that reliably cause a trait. A second sense concerns the causes of trait differences within a population. Whereas some single genes can (...)
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  44. Explanation in Evo-Devo.Marie I. Kaiser - 2021 - In L. N. de la Rosa & G. B. Müller (eds.), Evolutionary Developmental Biology - A Reference Guide. Cham: Springer.
    Evo-devo is a multidisciplinary field that investigates the interplay between evolutionary and developmental processes and brings together different kinds of explanatory strategies. This chapter examines the structure of paradigmatic explanations in evo-devo (e.g., the explanation of the origin of an evolutionary novelty) and raises philosophical questions about explanation in evo-devo. Much research in evo-devo is concerned with studying the developmental mechanisms that constrain and facilitate phenotypic evolution, which suggests that a distinctive feature of evo-devo is that it constructs mechanistic explanations. (...)
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  45. A New Role for Mathematics in Empirical Sciences.Atoosa Kasirzadeh - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (4):686-706.
    Mathematics is often taken to play one of two roles in the empirical sciences: either it represents empirical phenomena or it explains these phenomena by imposing constraints on them. This article identifies a third and distinct role that has not been fully appreciated in the literature on applicability of mathematics and may be pervasive in scientific practice. I call this the “bridging” role of mathematics, according to which mathematics acts as a connecting scheme in our explanatory reasoning about why and (...)
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  46. Francis Galton’s regression towards mediocrity and the stability of types.Adam Krashniak & Ehud Lamm - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 81 (C):6-19.
    A prevalent narrative locates the discovery of the statistical phenomenon of regression to the mean in the work of Francis Galton. It is claimed that after 1885, Galton came to explain the fact that offspring deviated less from the mean value of the population than their parents did as a population-level statistical phenomenon and not as the result of the processes of inheritance. Arguing against this claim, we show that Galton did not explain regression towards mediocrity statistically, and did not (...)
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  47. Empirical assumptions behind the violation of expectation experiments in human and non-human animals.Andrea Soledad Olmos & Santiago Ginnobili - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (3):1-24.
    One of the most widely used procedures applied to non-human animals or pre-linguistic humans is the “violation of expectation paradigm”. Curiously there is almost no discussion in the philosophical literature about it. Our objective will be to provide a first approach to the meta-theoretical nature of the assumptions behind the procedure that appeals to the violation of expectation and to extract some consequences. We show that behind them exists an empirical principle that affirms that the violation of the expectation of (...)
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  48. Causal Concepts in Biology: How Pathways Differ from Mechanisms and Why It Matters.Lauren N. Ross - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (1):131-158.
    In the last two decades few topics in philosophy of science have received as much attention as mechanistic explanation. A significant motivation for these accounts is that scientists frequently use the term “mechanism” in their explanations of biological phenomena. While scientists appeal to a variety of causal concepts in their explanations, many philosophers argue or assume that all of these concepts are well understood with the single notion of mechanism. This reveals a significant problem with mainstream mechanistic accounts– although philosophers (...)
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  49. The Epistemic Value of the Living Fossils Concept.Aja Watkins - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (5):1221-1233.
    Living fossils, taxa with similar members now and in the deep past, have recently come under scrutiny. Those who think the concept should be retained have argued for its epistemic and normative utility. This article extends the epistemic utility of the living fossils concept to include ways in which a taxon’s living fossil status can serve as evidence for other claims about that taxon. I will use insights from developmental biology to refine these claims. Insofar as these considerations demonstrate the (...)
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  50. Glycemia Regulation: From Feedback Loops to Organizational Closure.Leonardo Bich, Matteo Mossio & Ana M. Soto - 2020 - Frontiers in Physiology 11.
    Endocrinologists apply the idea of feedback loops to explain how hormones regulate certain bodily functions such as glucose metabolism. In particular, feedback loops focus on the maintenance of the plasma concentrations of glucose within a narrow range. Here, we put forward a different, organicist perspective on the endocrine regulation of glycaemia, by relying on the pivotal concept of closure of constraints. From this perspective, biological systems are understood as organized ones, which means that they are constituted of a set of (...)
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