11 found
  1. More on how and why: cause and effect in biology revisited.Kevin N. Laland, John Odling-Smee, William Hoppitt & Tobias Uller - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (5):719-745.
    In 1961, Ernst Mayr published a highly influential article on the nature of causation in biology, in which he distinguished between proximate and ultimate causes. Mayr argued that proximate causes (e.g. physiological factors) and ultimate causes (e.g. natural selection) addressed distinct ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions and were not competing alternatives. That distinction retains explanatory value today. However, the adoption of Mayr’s heuristic led to the widespread belief that ontogenetic processes are irrelevant to evolutionary questions, a belief that has (1) hindered (...)
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    Niche Construction and Conceptual Change in Evolutionary Biology.Tobias Uller & Heikki Helanterä - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (2):351-375.
    The theoretical status of ‘niche construction’ in evolution is intensely debated. Here we substantiate the reasons for different interpretations. We consider two concepts of niche construction brought to bear on evolutionary theory; one that emphasizes how niche construction contributes to selection and another that emphasizes how it contributes to development and inheritance. We explain the rationale for claims that selective and developmental niche construction motivate conceptual change in evolutionary biology and the logic of those who reject these claims. Our analysis (...)
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  3.  19
    Evolutionary Causation: Biological and Philosophical Reflections.Tobias Uller & Kevin N. Laland (eds.) - 2019 - MIT Press.
    A comprehensive treatment of the concept of causation in evolutionary biology that makes clear its central role in both historical and contemporary debates. Most scientific explanations are causal. This is certainly the case in evolutionary biology, which seeks to explain the diversity of life and the adaptive fit between organisms and their surroundings. The nature of causation in evolutionary biology, however, is contentious. How causation is understood shapes the structure of evolutionary theory, and historical and contemporary debates in evolutionary biology (...)
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    More on how and why: a response to commentaries.Kevin N. Laland, John Odling-Smee, William Hoppitt & Tobias Uller - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (5):793-810.
    We are grateful to the commentators for taking the time to respond to our article. Too many interesting and important points have been raised for us to tackle them all in this response, and so in the below we have sought to draw out the major themes. These include problems with both the term ‘ultimate causation’ and the proximate-ultimate causation dichotomy more generally, clarification of the meaning of reciprocal causation, discussion of issues related to the nature of development and phenotypic (...)
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  5.  11
    Beyond genotype‐phenotype maps: Toward a phenotype‐centered perspective on evolution.Miguel Brun-Usan, Roland Zimm & Tobias Uller - 2022 - Bioessays 44 (9):2100225.
    Evolutionary biology is paying increasing attention to the mechanisms that enable phenotypic plasticity, evolvability, and extra‐genetic inheritance. Yet, there is a concern that these phenomena remain insufficiently integrated within evolutionary theory. Understanding their evolutionary implications would require focusing on phenotypes and their variation, but this does not always fit well with the prevalent genetic representation of evolution that screens off developmental mechanisms. Here, we instead use development as a starting point, and represent it in a way that allows genetic, environmental (...)
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  6.  20
    Philosophy of Science for Biologists.Kostas Kampourakis & Tobias Uller (eds.) - 2019 - New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
    Biologists rely on theories, apply models and construct explanations, but rarely reflect on their nature and structure. This book introduces key topics in philosophy of science to provide the required philosophical background for this kind of reflection, which is an important part of all aspects of research and communication in biology. It concisely and accessibly addresses fundamental questions such as: Why should biologists care about philosophy of science? How do concepts contribute to scientific advancement? What is the nature of scientific (...)
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  7.  91
    Three epigenetic information channels and their different roles in evolution.Nicholas Shea, Ido Pen & Tobias Uller - 2011 - Journal of Evolutionary Biology 24:1178-87.
    There is increasing evidence for epigenetically mediated transgenerational inheritance across taxa. However, the evolutionary implications of such alternative mechanisms of inheritance remain unclear. Herein, we show that epigenetic mechanisms can serve two fundamentally different functions in transgenerational inheritance: (i) selection-based effects, which carry adaptive information in virtue of selection over many generations of reliable transmission; and (ii) detection-based effects, which are a transgenerational form of adaptive phenotypic plasticity. The two functions interact differently with a third form of epigenetic information transmission, (...)
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  8.  67
    The Price Equation and Extended Inheritance.Heikki Helanterä & Tobias Uller - 2010 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 2 (20130604).
    The presence of various mechanisms of non-genetic inheritance is one of the main problems for current evolutionary theory according to several critics. Sufficient empirical and conceptual reasons exist to take this claim seriously, but there is little consensus on the implications of multiple inheritance systems for evolutionary processes. Here we use the Price Equation as a starting point for a discussion of the differences between four recently proposed categories of inheritance systems; genetic, epigenetic, behavioral and symbolic. Specifically, we address how (...)
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  9.  51
    The Information Value of Non-Genetic Inheritance in Plants and Animals.Sinead English, Ido Pen, Nicholas Shea & Tobias Uller - 2015 - PLoS ONE 10 (1):e0116996.
    Parents influence the development of their offspring in many ways beyond the transmission of DNA. This includes transfer of epigenetic states, nutrients, antibodies and hormones, and behavioural interactions after birth. While the evolutionary consequences of such nongenetic inheritance are increasingly well understood, less is known about how inheritance mechanisms evolve. Here, we present a simple but versatile model to explore the adaptive evolution of non-genetic inheritance. Our model is based on a switch mechanism that produces alternative phenotypes in response to (...)
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  10.  24
    Human mate choice and the wedding ring effect.Tobias Uller & L. Christoffer Johansson - 2003 - Human Nature 14 (3):267-276.
    Individuals are often restricted to indirect cues when assessing the mate value of a potential partner. Females of some species have been shown to copy each other’s choice; in other words, the probability of a female choosing a particular male increases if he has already been chosen by other females. Recently it has been suggested that mate-choice copying could be an important aspect of human mate choice as well. We tested one of the hypotheses, the so-called wedding ring effect—that women (...)
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    Towards an evolutionary developmental biology of cooperation?Tobias Uller & Heikki Helanterä - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 48:267-271.