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Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences

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https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27907853/sewall-wright-shifting-balance-theory-and-the-hardening-of-the-modern-synthesis
#1
Yoichi Ishida
The period between the 1940s and 1960s saw the hardening of the modern synthesis in evolutionary biology. Gould and Provine argue that Wright's shifting balance theory of evolution hardened during this period. But their account does not do justice to Wright, who always regarded selection as acting together with drift. This paper presents a more adequate account of the development of Wright's shifting balance theory, paying particular attention to his application of the theory to the geographical distribution of flower color dimorphism in Linanthus parryae...
November 28, 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27838600/spot-the-difference-causal-contrasts-in-scientific-diagrams
#2
Raphael Scholl
An important function of scientific diagrams is to identify causal relationships. This commonly relies on contrasts that highlight the effects of specific difference-makers. However, causal contrast diagrams are not an obvious and easy to recognize category because they appear in many guises. In this paper, four case studies are presented to examine how causal contrast diagrams appear in a wide range of scientific reports, from experimental to observational and even purely theoretical studies. It is shown that causal contrasts can be expressed in starkly different formats, including photographs of complexly visualized macromolecules as well as line graphs, bar graphs, or plots of state spaces...
November 10, 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27780082/theoretical-ecology-as-etiological-from-the-start
#3
Justin Donhauser
The world's leading environmental advisory institutions look to ecological theory and research as an objective guide for policy and resource management decision-making. In addition to the theoretical and broadly philosophical merits of doing so, it is therefore practically significant to clear up confusions about ecology's conceptual foundations and to clarify the basic workings of inferential methods used in the science. Through discussion of key moments in the genesis of the theoretical branch of ecology, this essay elucidates a general heuristic role of teleological metaphors in ecological research and defuses certain enduring confusions about work in ecology...
October 22, 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27721035/the-impact-of-a-r-wallace-s-sarawak-law-paper-reassessed
#4
John van Wyhe
This article examines six main elements in the modern story of the impact of Alfred Russel Wallace's 1855 Sarawak Law paper, particularly in the many accounts of Charles Darwin's life and work. These elements are: Each of these are very frequently repeated as straightforward facts in the popular and scholarly literature. It is here argued that each of these is erroneous and that the role of the Sarawak Law paper in the historiography of Darwin and Wallace needs to be revised.
October 6, 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27721023/robustness-and-evidence-of-mechanisms-in-early-experimental-atherosclerosis-research
#5
Veli-Pekka Parkkinen
This article considers the evaluation of experimental evidence for a causal relation between cholesterol and atherosclerosis from the beginning of the 1900s until the late 1950s. It has been argued that the medical community failed to see the implications of this early research, and at first unjustifiably rejected a causal link between cholesterol and atherosclerosis. This article argues to the contrary that the medical community was justified to conclude based on the experimental evidence that cholesterol (dietary or blood) is probably not an effective target for preventive treatment...
October 4, 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27697630/aic-and-the-challenge-of-complexity-a-case-study-from-ecology
#6
Remington J Moll, Daniel Steel, Robert A Montgomery
Philosophers and scientists alike have suggested Akaike's Information Criterion (AIC), and other similar model selection methods, show predictive accuracy justifies a preference for simplicity in model selection. This epistemic justification of simplicity is limited by an assumption of AIC which requires that the same probability distribution must generate the data used to fit the model and the data about which predictions are made. This limitation has been previously noted but appears to often go unnoticed by philosophers and scientists and has not been analyzed in relation to complexity...
September 30, 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27693906/beyond-blindness-on-the-role-of-organism-and-environment-in-trial-generation
#7
Lorenzo Baravalle, Davide Vecchi
In this paper we aim to amend the traditional analogy at the heart of evolutionary epistemologies. We shall first argue, contrary to what has been frequently done, that both hypothesis generation and the processes of generation of genetic and phenotypic change are often directed as well as environmentally conditioned. Secondly, we shall argue that environmental influence does not affect trial generation directly but that environmental information is processed by the epistemic agent and by the biological organism respectively...
September 29, 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27643957/darwin-hume-morgan-and-the-verae-causae-of-psychology
#8
Hayley Clatterbuck
Charles Darwin and C. Lloyd Morgan forward two influential principles of cognitive ethological inference that yield conflicting results about the extent of continuity in the cognitive traits of humans and other animals. While these principles have been interpreted as reflecting commitments to different senses of parsimony, in fact, both principles result from the same vera causa inferential strategy, according to which "We ought to admit no more causes of natural things, than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances"...
September 16, 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27661409/diagnosis-and-causal-explanation-in-psychiatry
#9
Hane Htut Maung
In clinical medicine, a diagnosis can offer an explanation of a patient's symptoms by specifying the pathology that is causing them. Diagnoses in psychiatry are also sometimes presented in clinical texts as if they pick out pathological processes that cause sets of symptoms. However, current evidence suggests the possibility that many diagnostic categories in psychiatry are highly causally heterogeneous. For example, major depressive disorder may not be associated with a single type of underlying pathological process, but with a range of different causal pathways, each involving complex interactions of various biological, psychological, and social factors...
December 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27565209/beyond-the-realism-debate-the-metaphysics-of-racial-distinctions
#10
Olivier Lemeire
The current metaphysical race debate is very much focused on the realism question whether races exist. In this paper I argue against the importance of this question. Philosophers, biologists and anthropologists expect that answering this question will tell them something substantive about the metaphysics of racial classifications, and will help them to decide whether it is justified to use racial categories in scientific research and public policy. I argue that there are two reasons why these expectations are not fulfilled...
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27315189/koch-s-postulates-an-interventionist-perspective
#11
Lauren N Ross, James F Woodward
We argue that Koch's postulates are best understood within an interventionist account of causation, in the sense described in Woodward (2003). We show how this treatment helps to resolve interpretive puzzles associated with Koch's work and how it clarifies the different roles the postulates play in providing useful, yet not universal criteria for disease causation. Our paper is an effort at rational reconstruction; we attempt to show how Koch's postulates and reasoning make sense and are normatively justified within an interventionist framework and more difficult to understand within alternative frameworks for thinking about causation...
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27235853/-triple-negative-breast-cancer-translational-research-and-the-re-assembling-of-diseases-in-post-genomic-medicine
#12
Peter Keating, Alberto Cambrosio, Nicole C Nelson
The paper examines the debate about the nature and status of "Triple-negative breast cancer", a controversial biomedical entity whose existence illustrates a number of features of post-genomic translational research. The emergence of TNBC is intimately linked to the rise of molecular oncology, and, more generally, to the changing configuration of the life sciences at the turn of the new century. An unprecedented degree of integration of biological and clinical practices has led to the proliferation of bio-clinical entities emerging from translational research...
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27235852/william-whewell-s-philosophy-of-architecture-and-the-historicization-of-biology
#13
Aleta Quinn
William Whewell's work on historical science has received some attention from historians and philosophers of science. Whewell's own work on the history of German Gothic church architecture has been touched on within the context of the history of architecture. To a large extent these discussions have been conducted separately. I argue that Whewell intended his work on Gothic architecture as an attempt to (help) found a science of historical architecture, as an exemplar of historical science. I proceed by analyzing the key features of Whewell's philosophy of historical science...
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27191726/the-mechanistic-holistic-divide-revisited-the-case-of-the-lac-operon
#14
Valérie Racine
In this paper, I revisit the development of the repression model of genetic regulation in the lac operon to challenge a common application of a conceptual framework in the history of biology. I take Allen's (1978) account of the changes in the life sciences during the early and mid-twentieth century as an example of a common application of a framework based on the dichotomy between a mechanistic, or reductionist, approach to science and a holistic one. From this conceptual framework, Allen infers two general claims about the process of science and its goals: (1) that "mechanistic materialism" has often presented a more practical way to begin the study of complex phenomena in the life sciences, and (2) that the approach described as "holistic materialism" provides a more complete or accurate description of the natural world...
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27033340/writing-the-history-of-virology-in-the-twentieth-century-discovery-disciplines-and-conceptual-change
#15
Pierre-Olivier Méthot
Concerned with the study of viruses and the diseases they cause, virology is now a well-established scientific discipline. Whereas aspects of its history from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century have often been recounted through a number of detailed case studies, few general discussions of the historiography of virology have been offered. Looking at the ways in which the history of virology has been told, this article examines a number of debates among scientists and historians of biology and show how they are based on a different understanding of notions such as "discipline", of processes such as "scientific discovery" as well as on distinct views about what the history of science is and how it should be written (the opposition between "longue durée" and "micro-history" or between history of "concepts" versus "experimental methods")...
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/26996411/what-roles-for-viruses-in-origin-of-life-scenarios
#16
Gladys Kostyrka
Important roles in origin of life (OL) scenarios have been and still are attributed to viruses. Yet the strict dependence of viruses on cells for their multiplication has been widely acknowledged since the first decades of the 20th century. How could viruses play critical roles in the OL if life relies on cellular organization and if viruses are defined as parasites of cells? In other words, how could viruses play a role in the emergence of cellular life if the existence of cells is a prerequisite for the existence of viruses? This paper investigates this issue and describes past and current OL scenarios conferring viruses with important roles, thereby completing the work of historian of science and physician Scott Podolsky who identified three major roles of viruses in past OL scenarios...
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/26996409/to-be-or-not-to-be-alive-how-recent-discoveries-challenge-the-traditional-definitions-of-viruses-and-life
#17
Patrick Forterre
Three major discoveries have recently profoundly modified our perception of the viral world: molecular ecologists have shown that viral particles are more abundant than cells in natural environments; structural biologists have shown that some viruses from the three domains of life, Bacteria, Eukarya and Archaea, are evolutionarily related, and microbiologists have discovered giant viruses that rival with cells in terms of size and gene content. I discuss here the scientific and philosophical impact of these discoveries on the debates over the definition, nature (living or not), and origin of viruses...
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/26994935/viruses-as-living-processes
#18
John Dupré, Stephan Guttinger
The view that life is composed of distinct entities with well-defined boundaries has been undermined in recent years by the realisation of the near omnipresence of symbiosis. What had seemed to be intrinsically stable entities have turned out to be systems stabilised only by the interactions between a complex set of underlying processes (Dupré, 2012). This has not only presented severe problems for our traditional understanding of biological individuality but has also led some to claim that we need to switch to a process ontology to be able adequately to understand biological systems...
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/26994934/what-is-a-virus-species-radical-pluralism-in-viral-taxonomy
#19
Gregory J Morgan
Early attempts in the 1960s at constructing a classification scheme for viruses were phenetic and focused on structural properties of the virion. Over time, the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) has refined its definition of a virus species to include an appeal to evolutionary history. The current ICTV definition defines a viral species in terms of monophyly. The existence of prolific horizontal genetic transfer (HGT) among various groups of viruses presents a challenge to this definition...
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/26975220/understanding-viruses-philosophical-investigations
#20
Thomas Pradeu, Gladys Kostyrka, John Dupré
Viruses have been virtually absent from philosophy of biology. In this editorial introduction, we explain why we think viruses are philosophically important. We focus on six issues (the definition of viruses, the individuality and diachronic identity of a virus, the possibility to classify viruses into species, the question of whether viruses are living, the question of whether viruses are organisms, and finally the biological roles of viruses in ecology and evolution), and we show how they relate to classic questions of philosophy of biology and even general philosophy...
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
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