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Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences

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https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/28222354/modelling-with-words-narrative-and-natural-selection
#1
Dominic K Dimech
I argue that verbal models should be included in a philosophical account of the scientific practice of modelling. Weisberg (2013) has directly opposed this thesis on the grounds that verbal structures, if they are used in science, only merely describe models. I look at examples from Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859) of verbally constructed narratives that I claim model the general phenomenon of evolution by natural selection. In each of the cases I look at, a particular scenario is described that involves at least some fictitious elements but represents the salient causal components of natural selection...
February 18, 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/28196347/disentangling-life-darwin-selectionism-and-the-postgenomic-return-of-the-environment
#2
Maurizio Meloni
In this paper, I analyze the disruptive impact of Darwinian selectionism for the century-long tradition in which the environment had a direct causative role in shaping an organism's traits. In the case of humans, the surrounding environment often determined not only the physical, but also the mental and moral features of individuals and whole populations. With its apparatus of indirect effects, random variations, and a much less harmonious view of nature and adaptation, Darwinian selectionism severed the deep imbrication of organism and milieu posited by these traditional environmentalist models...
February 11, 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/28188111/on-ideals-of-objectivity-judgments-and-bias-in-medical-research-a-comment-on-stegenga
#3
Saana Jukola
By using Stegenga's article Is meta-analysis the platinum standard of evidence as a case study, this paper shows how different notions of objectivity can affect discussions concerning medical research. I argue that the ideal of objectivity that underlies Stegenga's article is both unattainable in practice and insufficient and unnecessary in principle to capture some of the ways in which biases may enter medical knowledge production.
February 7, 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/28092810/expectation-and-futurity-the-remarkable-success-of-genetic-determinism
#4
Maurizio Esposito
Genetic determinism is nowadays largely questioned and widely criticized. However, if we look at the history of biology in the last one hundred years, we realize that genetic determinism has always been controversial. Why, then, did it acquire such relevance in the past despite facing longstanding criticism? Through the analysis of some of the ambitious expectations of future scientific applications, this article explores the possibility that part of the historical success of genetic determinism lies in the powerful rhetorical strategies that have connected the germinal matter with alluring bio-technological visions...
January 13, 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/28039775/animal-extrapolation-in-preclinical-studies-an-analysis-of-the-tragic-case-of-tgn1412
#5
Maƫl Lemoine
According to the received view, the transportation view, animal extrapolation consists in inductive prediction of the outcome of a mechanism in a target, based on an analogical mechanism in a model. Through an analysis of the failure of preclinical studies of TGN1412, an innovative drug, to predict the tragic consequences of its first-in-man trial in 2006, the received view is challenged by a proposed view of animal extrapolation, the chimera view. According to this view, animal extrapolation is based on a hypothesis about how human organisms work, supported by the amalgamation of results drawn from various experimental organisms, and only predicting the 'predictive grid', that is, a global framework of the effects to be expected...
December 28, 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/28024174/biology-meets-physics-reductionism-and-multi-scale-modeling-of-morphogenesis
#6
Sara Green, Robert Batterman
A common reductionist assumption is that macro-scale behaviors can be described "bottom-up" if only sufficient details about lower-scale processes are available. The view that an "ideal" or "fundamental" physics would be sufficient to explain all macro-scale phenomena has been met with criticism from philosophers of biology. Specifically, scholars have pointed to the impossibility of deducing biological explanations from physical ones, and to the irreducible nature of distinctively biological processes such as gene regulation and evolution...
December 23, 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27951454/kamikazes-and-cultural-evolution
#7
Sean Allen-Hermanson
Is cultural evolution needed to explain altruistic selfsacrifice? Some contend that cultural traits (e.g. beliefs, behaviors, and for some "memes") replicate according to selection processes that have "floated free" from biology. One test case is the example of suicide kamikaze attacks in wartime Japan. Standard biological mechanisms-such as reciprocal altruism and kin selection-might not seem to apply here: The suicide pilots did not act on the expectation that others would reciprocate, and they were supposedly sacrificing themselves for country and emperor, not close relatives...
December 9, 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27907853/sewall-wright-shifting-balance-theory-and-the-hardening-of-the-modern-synthesis
#8
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
#9
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...
December 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27780082/theoretical-ecology-as-etiological-from-the-start
#10
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...
December 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
#11
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.
December 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
#12
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...
December 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
#13
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...
December 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
#14
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...
December 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/27661409/diagnosis-and-causal-explanation-in-psychiatry
#15
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/27643957/darwin-hume-morgan-and-the-verae-causae-of-psychology
#16
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"...
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
#17
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
#18
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
#19
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
#20
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
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