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Instrumental Biology, or the Disunity of Science

Chicago: University of Chicago Press (1994)

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  1. The Nature of Appearance in Kant’s Transcendentalism: A Seman- tico-Cognitive Analysis.Sergey L. Katrechko - 2018 - Kantian Journal 37 (3):41-55.
  • The Evolution of Complexity.Mark Bedau - 2009 - In Barberousse Anouk, Morange M. & Pradeau T. (eds.), Mapping the Future of Biology. Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol 266. Springer.
  • Sources of evolutionary contingency: chance variation and genetic drift.T. Y. William Wong - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (4):1-33.
    Contingency-theorists have gestured to a series of phenomena such as random mutations or rare Armageddon-like events as that which accounts for evolutionary contingency. These phenomena constitute a class, which may be aptly called the ‘sources of contingency’. In this paper, I offer a probabilistic conception of what it is to be a source of contingency and then examine two major candidates: chance variation and genetic drift, both of which have historically been taken to be ‘chancy’ in a number of different (...)
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  • The adaptive landscape of science.John S. Wilkins - 2008 - Biology and Philosophy 23 (5):659-671.
    In 1988, David Hull presented an evolutionary account of science. This was a direct analogy to evolutionary accounts of biological adaptation, and part of a generalized view of Darwinian selection accounts that he based upon the Universal Darwinism of Richard Dawkins. Criticisms of this view were made by, among others, Kim Sterelny, which led to it gaining only limited acceptance. Some of these criticisms are, I will argue, no longer valid in the light of developments in the formal modeling of (...)
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  • Selection without replicators: the origin of genes, and the replicator/interactor distinction in etiobiology.John S. Wilkins, Ian Musgrave & Clem Stanyon - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (2):215-239.
    Genes are thought to have evolved from long-lived and multiply-interactive molecules in the early stages of the origins of life. However, at that stage there were no replicators, and the distinction between interactors and replicators did not yet apply. Nevertheless, the process of evolution that proceeded from initial autocatalytic hypercycles to full organisms was a Darwinian process of selection of favourable variants. We distinguish therefore between Neo-Darwinian evolution and the related Weismannian and Central Dogma divisions, on the one hand, and (...)
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  • Determinism, realism, and probability in evolutionary theory.Marcel Weber - 2001 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3):S213-.
    Recent discussion of the statistical character of evolutionary theory has centered around two positions: (1) Determinism combined with the claim that the statistical character is eliminable, a subjective interpretation of probability, and instrumentalism; (2) Indeterminism combined with the claim that the statistical character is ineliminable, a propensity interpretation of probability, and realism. I point out some internal problems in these positions and show that the relationship between determinism, eliminability, realism, and the interpretation of probability is more complex than previously assumed (...)
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  • The trials of life: Natural selection and random drift.Denis M. Walsh, Andre Ariew & Tim Lewens - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (3):452-473.
    We distinguish dynamical and statistical interpretations of evolutionary theory. We argue that only the statistical interpretation preserves the presumed relation between natural selection and drift. On these grounds we claim that the dynamical conception of evolutionary theory as a theory of forces is mistaken. Selection and drift are not forces. Nor do selection and drift explanations appeal to the (sub-population-level) causes of population level change. Instead they explain by appeal to the statistical structure of populations. We briefly discuss the implications (...)
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  • On the neglect of the philosophy of chemistry.J. van Brakel - 1999 - Foundations of Chemistry 1 (2):111-174.
    In this paper I present a historiography of the recent emergence of philosophy of chemistry. Special attention is given to the interest in this domain in Eastern Europe before the collapse of the USSR. It is shown that the initial neglect of the philosophy of chemistry is due to the unanimous view in philosophy and philosophy of science that only physics is a proper science (to put in Kant's words). More recently, due to the common though incorrect assumption that chemistry (...)
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  • Towards a characterization of metaphysics of biology: metaphysics for and metaphysics in biology.Vanesa Triviño - 2022 - Synthese 200 (5):1-21.
    Since the last decades of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first century, the use of metaphysics by philosophers when approaching conceptual problems in biology has increased. Some philosophers call this tendency in philosophy of biology ‘Metaphysics of Biology’. In this paper, I aim at characterizing Metaphysics of Biology by paying attention to the diverse ways philosophers use metaphysics when addressing conceptual problems in biology. I will claim that there are two different modes of doing Metaphysics of Biology, namely (...)
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  • The Current Status of the Philosophy of Biology.Peter Takacs & Michael Ruse - 2013 - Science & Education 22 (1):5-48.
  • The Social Psychology of “Pseudoscience”: A Brief History.Arthur Still & Windy Dryden - 2004 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 34 (3):265-290.
    The word ‘pseudoscience’ is a marker of changing worries about science and being a scientist. It played an important role in the philosophical debate on demarcating science from other activities, and was used in popular writings to distance science from cranky theories with scientific pretensions. These uses consolidated a comforting unity in science, a communal space from which pseudoscience is excluded, and the user's right to belong is asserted. The urgency of this process dwindled when attempts to find a formal (...)
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  • Introduction: History of science and philosophy of science.Friedrich Steinle & Richard M. Burian - 2002 - Perspectives on Science 10 (4):391-397.
    Introduces a series of articles which deals with the relationship between history of science and philosophy of science.; Introduces a series of articles which deals with the relationship between history of science and philosophy of science.
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  • Emergentism by default: A view from the bench.Ana M. Soto & Carlos Sonnenschein - 2006 - Synthese 151 (3):361-376.
    For the last 50 years the dominant stance in experimental biology has been reductionism in general, and genetic reductionism in particular. Philosophers were the first to realize that the belief that the Mendelian genes were reduced to DNA molecules was questionable. Soon, experimental data confirmed these misgivings. The optimism of molecular biologists, fueled by early success in tackling relatively simple problems has now been tempered by the difficulties encountered when applying the same simple ideas to complex problems. We analyze three (...)
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  • Two outbreaks of lawlessness in recent philosophy of biology.Elliott Sober - 1997 - Philosophy of Science 64 (4):467.
    John Beatty (1995) and Alexander Rosenberg (1994) have argued against the claim that there are laws in biology. Beatty's main reason is that evolution is a process full of contingency, but he also takes the existence of relative significance controversies in biology and the popularity of pluralistic approaches to a variety of evolutionary questions to be evidence for biology's lawlessness. Rosenberg's main argument appeals to the idea that biological properties supervene on large numbers of physical properties, but he also develops (...)
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  • Popper’s Shifting Appraisal of Evolutionary Theory.Elliott Sober & Mehmet Elgin - 2017 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 7 (1):31-55.
    Karl Popper argued in 1974 that evolutionary theory contains no testable laws and is therefore a metaphysical research program. Four years later, he said that he had changed his mind. Here we seek to understand Popper’s initial position and his subsequent retraction. We argue, contrary to Popper’s own assessment, that he did not change his mind at all about the substance of his original claim. We also explore how Popper’s views have ramifications for contemporary discussion of the nature of laws (...)
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  • Natural selection, causality, and laws: What Fodor and piatelli-palmarini got wrong.Elliott Sober - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (4):594-607.
    In their book What Darwin Got Wrong, Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini construct an a priori philosophical argument and an empirical biological argument. The biological argument aims to show that natural selection is much less important in the evolutionary process than many biologists maintain. The a priori argument begins with the claim that there cannot be selection for one but not the other of two traits that are perfectly correlated in a population; it concludes that there cannot be an evolutionary (...)
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  • Paradigm changes in organ transplantation: A journey toward selflessness?Kenneth F. Schaffner - 1998 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 19 (5):425-440.
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  • Why Evolution is Really Indeterministic.R. Sansom - 2003 - Synthese 136 (2):263-279.
    Leslie Graves, Barbara Horan and Alex Rosenberg (1999) have argued that the process of evolution is really deterministic, so we should be instrumentalists about our probabilistic evolutionary theory. I criticize the consistency of their view. I argue that because they are realists towards multiple theories (quantum mechanics and macrophysics) their arguments against realism for another scientific theory fail. The main point of this paper is critical, but in order to set up this criticism I explore the ramifications of realism for (...)
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  • Conservative Reduction of Biology.Christian Sachse - 2011 - Philosophia Naturalis 48 (1):33-65.
  • Reductionism redux: Computing the embryo. [REVIEW]Alex Rosenberg - 1997 - Biology and Philosophy 12 (4):445-470.
    This paper argues that the consensus physicalist antireductionism in the philosophy of biology cannot accommodate the research strategy or indeed the recent findings of molecular developmental biology. After describing Wolperts programmatic claims on its behalf, and recent work by Gehring and others to identify the molecular determinants of development, the paper attempts to identify the relationship between evolutionary and developmental biology by reconciling two apparently conflicting accounts of bio-function – Wrights and Nagels (as elaborated by Cummins). Finally, the paper seeks (...)
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  • How is biological explanation possible?Alex Rosenberg - 2001 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (4):735-760.
    That biology provides explanations is not open to doubt. But how it does so must be a vexed question for those who deny that biology embodies laws or other generalizations with the sort of explanatory force that the philosophy of science recognizes. The most common response to this problem has involved redefining law so that those grammatically general statements which biologists invoke in explanations can be counted as laws. But this terminological innovation cannot identify the source of biology's explanatory power. (...)
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  • ¿Son los genetistas de poblaciones inductivistas estrechos?Ariel Jonathan Roffé & Santiago Ginnobili - 2017 - Scientiae Studia 15 (2):263.
    Es una opinión extendida que la teoría de la selección natural, tal como fue formulada originalmente por Darwin de manera “cualitativa”, ha sido reemplazada por una versión cuantitativa superior, brindada por la genética de poblaciones. En este artículo se discute contra esa tesis, sosteniendo en cambio que ambas teorías son complementarias, no sucesivas. Para ello, se introduce una línea de argumentación novedosa, que toma su inspiración en la crítica al “inductivismo estrecho” de Hempel. Se sostiene que los genetistas de poblaciones (...)
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  • A New Kind of Ethical Naturalism?R. M. Hare - 1995 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 20 (1):340-356.
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  • Monophyly, paraphyly, and natural kinds.Olivier Rieppel - 2005 - Biology and Philosophy 20 (2-3):465-487.
    A long-standing debate has dominated systematic biology and the ontological commitments made by its theories. The debate has contrasted individuals and the part – whole relationship with classes and the membership relation. This essay proposes to conceptualize the hierarchy of higher taxa is terms of a hierarchy of homeostatic property cluster natural kinds (biological species remain largely excluded from the present discussion). The reference of natural kind terms that apply to supraspecific taxa is initially fixed descriptively; the extension of those (...)
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  • Chance and the patterns of drift: A natural experiment.Robert C. Richardson - 2006 - Philosophy of Science 73 (5):642-654.
    Evolutionary models can explain the dynamics of populations, how genetic, genotypic, or phenotypic frequencies change with time. Models incorporating chance, or drift, predict specific patterns of change. These are illustrated using classic work on blood types by Cavalli-Sforza and his collaborators in the Parma Valley of Italy, in which the theoretically predicted patterns are exhibited in human populations. These data and the models display properties of ensembles of populations. The explanatory problem needs to be understood in terms of how likely (...)
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  • Molecular shape, reduction, explanation and approximate concepts.Jeffry L. Ramsey - 1997 - Synthese 111 (3):233-251.
  • Driftability.Grant Ramsey - 2013 - Synthese 190 (17):3909-3928.
    In this paper, I argue (contra some recent philosophical work) that an objective distinction between natural selection and drift can be drawn. I draw this distinction by conceiving of drift, in the most fundamental sense, as an individual-level phenomenon. This goes against some other attempts to distinguish selection from drift, which have argued either that drift is a population-level process or that it is a population-level product. Instead of identifying drift with population-level features, the account introduced here can explain these (...)
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  • Levels of explanation reconceived.Angela Potochnik - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (1):59-72.
    A common argument against explanatory reductionism is that higher‐level explanations are sometimes or always preferable because they are more general than reductive explanations. Here I challenge two basic assumptions that are needed for that argument to succeed. It cannot be assumed that higher‐level explanations are more general than their lower‐level alternatives or that higher‐level explanations are general in the right way to be explanatory. I suggest a novel form of pluralism regarding levels of explanation, according to which explanations at different (...)
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  • A Neurathian Conception of the Unity of Science.Angela Potochnik - 2011 - Erkenntnis 74 (3):305-319.
    An historically important conception of the unity of science is explanatory reductionism, according to which the unity of science is achieved by explaining all laws of science in terms of their connection to microphysical law. There is, however, a separate tradition that advocates the unity of science. According to that tradition, the unity of science consists of the coordination of diverse fields of science, none of which is taken to have privileged epistemic status. This alternate conception has roots in Otto (...)
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  • 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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  • The devil is in the (historical) details: Continental drift as a case of normatively appropriate consensus?Naomi Oreskes - 2008 - Perspectives on Science 16 (3):pp. 253-264.
    In Social Empiricism, Miriam Solomon proposes a via media between traditional philosophical realism and social construction of scientific knowledge, but ignores a large body of historical literature that has attempted to plough just that path. She also proposes a standard for normatively appropriate consensus that, arguably, no theory in the history of science has ever achieved, including her own ideal type—plate tectonics. And while valorizing dissent, she fails to consider how dissent has been used in recent decades as a political (...)
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  • Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection--A Philosophical Analysis.Samir Okasha - 2008 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (3):319-351.
    This paper provides a philosophical analysis of the ongoing controversy surrounding R.A. Fisher's famous ‘fundamental theorem’ of natural selection. The difference between the ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ interpretations of the theorem is explained. I argue that proponents of the modern interpretation have captured Fisher's intended meaning correctly and shown that the theorem is mathematically correct, pace the traditional consensus. However, whether the theorem has any real biological significance remains an unresolved issue. I argue that the answer depends on whether we accept (...)
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  • Models, models, models: a deflationary view.Jay Odenbaugh - 2018 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 21):1-16.
    In this essay, I first consider a popular view of models and modeling, the similarity view. Second, I contend that arguments for it fail and it suffers from what I call “Hughes’ worry.” Third, I offer a deflationary approach to models and modeling that avoids Hughes’ worry and shows how scientific representations are of apiece with other types of representations. Finally, I consider an objection that the similarity view can deal with approximations better than the deflationary view and show that (...)
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  • Rethinking Woodger’s Legacy in the Philosophy of Biology.Daniel J. Nicholson & Richard Gawne - 2014 - Journal of the History of Biology 47 (2):243-292.
    The writings of Joseph Henry Woodger (1894–1981) are often taken to exemplify everything that was wrongheaded, misguided, and just plain wrong with early twentieth-century philosophy of biology. Over the years, commentators have said of Woodger: (a) that he was a fervent logical empiricist who tried to impose the explanatory gold standards of physics onto biology, (b) that his philosophical work was completely disconnected from biological science, (c) that he possessed no scientific or philosophical credentials, and (d) that his work was (...)
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  • Feminist Philosophy of Science.Lynn Hankinson Nelson - 2002 - In Peter Machamer & Michael Silberstein (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Science. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. pp. 312–331.
    This chapter contains sections titled: Highlights of Past Literature Current Work Future Work.
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  • Unification, explanation and explaining unity: The Fisher–Wright controversy.Margaret Morrison - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (1):233-245.
    I argued that the frameworks and mechanisms that produce unification do not enable us to explain why the unified phenomena behave as they do. That is, we need to look beyond the unifying process for an explanation of these phenomena. Anya Plutynski ([2005]) has called into question my claim about the relationship between unification and explanation as well as my characterization of it in the context of the early synthesis of Mendelism with Darwinian natural selection. In this paper I argue (...)
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  • Interpretation of Probability in Evolutionary Theory.Ryota Morimoto - 2009 - Kagaku Tetsugaku 42 (1):83-96.
  • Natural selection as a population-level causal process.Roberta L. Millstein - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (4):627-653.
    Recent discussions in the philosophy of biology have brought into question some fundamental assumptions regarding evolutionary processes, natural selection in particular. Some authors argue that natural selection is nothing but a population-level, statistical consequence of lower-level events (Matthen and Ariew [2002]; Walsh et al. [2002]). On this view, natural selection itself does not involve forces. Other authors reject this purely statistical, population-level account for an individual-level, causal account of natural selection (Bouchard and Rosenberg [2004]). I argue that each of these (...)
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  • Interpretations of probability in evolutionary theory.Roberta L. Millstein - 2003 - Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1317-1328.
    Evolutionary theory (ET) is teeming with probabilities. Probabilities exist at all levels: the level of mutation, the level of microevolution, and the level of macroevolution. This uncontroversial claim raises a number of contentious issues. For example, is the evolutionary process (as opposed to the theory) indeterministic, or is it deterministic? Philosophers of biology have taken different sides on this issue. Millstein (1997) has argued that we are not currently able answer this question, and that even scientific realists ought to remain (...)
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  • Are random drift and natural selection conceptually distinct?Roberta L. Millstein - 2002 - Biology and Philosophy 17 (1):33-53.
    The latter half of the twentieth century has been marked by debates in evolutionary biology over the relative significance of natural selection and random drift: the so-called “neutralist/selectionist” debates. Yet John Beatty has argued that it is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish the concept of random drift from the concept of natural selection, a claim that has been accepted by many philosophers of biology. If this claim is correct, then the neutralist/selectionist debates seem at best futile, and at worst, (...)
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  • Gould on laws in biological science.Lee Mcintyre - 1997 - Biology and Philosophy 12 (3):357-367.
    Are there laws in evolutionary biology? Stephen J. Gould has argued that there are factors unique to biological theorizing which prevent the formulation of laws in biology, in contradistinction to the case in physics and chemistry. Gould offers the problem of complexity as just such a fundamental barrier to biological laws in general, and to Dollos Law in particular. But I argue that Gould fails to demonstrate: (1) that Dollos Law is not law-like, (2) that the alleged failure of Dollos (...)
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  • Deterministic Probability: Neither chance nor credence.Aidan Lyon - 2011 - Synthese 182 (3):413-432.
    Some have argued that chance and determinism are compatible in order to account for the objectivity of probabilities in theories that are compatible with determinism, like Classical Statistical Mechanics (CSM) and Evolutionary Theory (ET). Contrarily, some have argued that chance and determinism are incompatible, and so such probabilities are subjective. In this paper, I argue that both of these positions are unsatisfactory. I argue that the probabilities of theories like CSM and ET are not chances, but also that they are (...)
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  • Mechanistic Information as Evidence in Decision-Oriented Science.José Luis Luján, Oliver Todt & Juan Bautista Bengoetxea - 2016 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 47 (2):293-306.
    Mechanistic information is used in the field of risk assessment in order to clarify two controversial methodological issues, the selection of inference guides and the definition of standards of evidence. In this paper we present an analysis of the concept of mechanistic information in risk assessment by recurring to previous philosophical analyses of mechanistic explanation. Our conclusion is that the conceptual analysis of mechanistic explanation facilitates a better characterization of the concept of mechanistic information. However, it also shows that the (...)
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  • Aristotle on the unity and disunity of science.James G. Lennox - 2001 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 15 (2):133 – 144.
  • Norms and Customs: Causally Important or Causally Impotent?Todd Jones - 2010 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 40 (3):399-432.
    In this article, I argue that norms and customs, despite frequently being described as being causes of behavior in the social sciences and ordinary conversation, cannot really cause behavior. Terms like "norms" and the like seem to refer to philosophically disreputable disjunctive properties. More problematically, even if they do not, or even if there can be disjunctive properties after all, I argue that norms and customs still cannot cause behavior. The social sciences would be better off without referring to properties (...)
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  • Aspects of Reductive Explanation in Biological Science: Intrinsicality, Fundamentality, and Temporality.Andreas Hüttemann & Alan C. Love - 2011 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (3):519-549.
    The inapplicability of variations on theory reduction in the context of genetics and their irrelevance to ongoing research has led to an anti-reductionist consensus in philosophy of biology. One response to this situation is to focus on forms of reductive explanation that better correspond to actual scientific reasoning (e.g. part–whole relations). Working from this perspective, we explore three different aspects (intrinsicality, fundamentality, and temporality) that arise from distinct facets of reductive explanation: composition and causation. Concentrating on these aspects generates new (...)
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  • Inscrutability and the Opacity of Natural Selection and Random Genetic Drift: Distinguishing the Epistemic and Metaphysical Aspects.Philippe Huneman - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (S3):491-518.
    ‘Statisticalists’ argue that the individual interactions of organisms taken together constitute natural selection. On this view, natural selection is an aggregated effect of interactions rather than some added cause acting on populations. The statisticalists’ view entails that natural selection and drift are indistinguishable aggregated effects of interactions, so that it becomes impossible to make a difference between them. The present paper attempts to make sense of the difference between selection and drift, given the main insights of statisticalism; basically, it will (...)
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  • A Bridge Too Far – Revisited: Reframing Bruer’s Neuroeducation Argument for Modern Science of Learning Practitioners.Jared C. Horvath & Gregory M. Donoghue - 2016 - Frontiers in Psychology 7.
  • Laws of biology, laws of nature: Problems and (dis)solutions.Andrew Hamilton - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (3):592–610.
    This article serves as an introduction to the laws-of-biology debate. After introducing the main issues in an introductory section, arguments for and against laws of biology are canvassed in Section 2. In Section 3, the debate is placed in wider epistemological context by engaging a group of scholars who have shifted the focus away from the question of whether there are laws of biology and toward offering good accounts of explanation(s) in the biological sciences. Section 4 introduces two relatively new (...)
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  • Current Issues in the Philosophy of Biology.Marjorie Grene - 1997 - Perspectives on Science 5 (2):255-281.