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Situated at the intersection of natural science and philosophy, Our Genes explores historical practices, investigates current trends, and imagines future work in genetic research to answer persistent, political questions about human diversity. Readers are guided through fascinating thought experiments, complex measures and metrics, fundamental evolutionary patterns, and in-depth treatment of exciting case studies. The work culminates in a philosophical rationale, based on scientific evidence, for a moderate position about the explanatory power of genes that is often left unarticulated. Simply put, human evolutionary genomics - our genes - can tell us much about who we are as individuals and as collectives. However, while they convey scientific certainty in the popular imagination, genes cannot answer some of our most important questions. Alternating between an up-close and a zoomed-out focus on genes and genomes, individuals and collectives, species and populations, Our Genes argues that the answers we seek point to rich, necessary work ahead.
What are genes? What do genes do? These questions are not simple and straightforward to answer; at the same time, simplistic answers are quite prevalent and are taken for granted. This book aims to explain the origin of the gene concept, its various meanings both within and outside science, as well as to debunk the intuitive view of the existence of 'genes for' characteristics and disease. Drawing on contemporary research in genetics and genomics, as well as on ideas from history of science, philosophy of science, psychology and science education, it explains what genes are and what they can and cannot do. By presenting complex concepts and research in a comprehensible and rigorous manner, it examines the potential impact of research in genetics and genomics and how important genes actually are for our lives. Understanding Genes is an accessible and engaging introduction to genes for any interested reader.
DNA ancestry companies generate revenues in the region of $1bn a year, and the company 23andMe is said to have sold 10 million DNA ancestry kits to date. Although evidently popular, the science behind how DNA ancestry tests work is mystifying and difficult for the general public to interpret and understand. In this accessible and engaging book, Sheldon Krimsky, a leading researcher, investigates the methods that different companies use for DNA ancestry testing. He also discusses what the tests are used for, from their application in criminal investigations to discovering missing relatives. With a lack of transparency from companies in sharing their data, absent validation of methods by independent scientists, and currently no agreed-upon standards of accuracy, this book also examines the ethical issues behind genetic genealogy testing, including concerns surrounding data privacy and security. It demystifies the art and science of DNA ancestry testing for the general reader.
In On the Origin of Species (1859), Charles Darwin put forward his theory of natural selection. Conventionally, Darwin's argument for this theory has been understood as based on an analogy with artificial selection. But there has been no consensus on how, exactly, this analogical argument is supposed to work – and some suspicion too that analogical arguments on the whole are embarrassingly weak. Drawing on new insights into the history of analogical argumentation from the ancient Greeks onward, as well as on in-depth studies of Darwin's public and private writings, this book offers an original perspective on Darwin's argument, restoring to view the intellectual traditions which Darwin took for granted in arguing as he did. From this perspective come new appreciations not only of Darwin's argument but of the metaphors based on it, the range of wider traditions the argument touched upon, and its legacies for science after the Origin.
The controversial matters surrounding the notion of anachronism are difficult ones: they have been broached by literary and art critics, by philosophers, as well as by historians of science. This book adopts a bottom-up approach to the many problems concerning anachronism in the history of mathematics. Some of the leading scholars in the field of history of mathematics reflect on the applicability of present-day mathematical language, concepts, standards, disciplinary boundaries, indeed notions of mathematics itself, to well-chosen historical case studies belonging to the mathematics of the past, in European and non-European cultures. A detailed introduction describes the key themes and binds the various chapters together. The interdisciplinary and transcultural approach adopted allows this volume to cover topics important for history of mathematics, history of the physical sciences, history of science, philosophy of mathematics, history of philosophy, methodology of history, non-European science, and the transmission of mathematical knowledge across cultures.
Interpreting Kuhn provides a comprehensive, up-to-date study of Thomas Kuhn's philosophy and legacy. With twelve essays newly written by an international group of scholars, it covers a wide range of topics where Kuhn had an influence. Part I deals with foundational issues such as Kuhn's metaphysical assumptions, his relationship to Kant and Kantian philosophy, as well as contextual influences on his writing, including Cold War psychology and art. Part II tackles three Kuhnian concepts: normal science, incommensurability, and scientific revolutions. Part III deals with the Copernican Revolution in astronomy, the theory-ladenness of observation, scientific discovery, Kuhn's evolutionary analogies, and his theoretical monism. The volume is an ideal resource for advanced students seeking an overview of Kuhn's philosophy, and for specialists following the development of Kuhn scholarship.
What are the metaphysical commitments which best 'make sense' of our scientific practice (rather than our scientific theories)? In this book, Andreas Hüttemann provides a minimal metaphysics for scientific practice, i.e. a metaphysics that refrains from postulating any structure that is explanatorily irrelevant. Hüttemann closely analyses paradigmatic aspects of scientific practice, such as prediction, explanation and manipulation, to consider the questions whether and (if so) what metaphysical presuppositions best account for these practices. He looks at the role which scientific generalisation (laws of nature) play in predicting, testing, and explaining the behaviour of systems. He also develops a theory of causation in terms of quasi-inertial processes and interfering factors, and he proposes an account of reductive practices that makes minimal metaphysical assumptions. His book will be valuable for scholars and advanced students working in both philosophy of science and metaphysics.
Ecology is indispensable to understanding the biological world and addressing the environmental problems humanity faces. Its philosophy has never been more important. In this book, James Justus introduces readers to the philosophically rich issues ecology poses. Besides its crucial role in biological science generally, climate change, biodiversity loss, and other looming environmental challenges make ecology's role in understanding such threats and identifying solutions to them all the more critical. When ecology is applied and its insights marshalled to address these problems and guide policy formation, interesting philosophical issues emerge. Justus sets them out in detail, and explores the often ethically charged dimensions of applied ecological science, using accessible language and a wealth of scientifically-informed examples.
Why do we think ourselves superior to all other animals? Are we right to think so? In this book, Michael Ruse explores these questions in religion, science and philosophy. Some people think that the world is an organism - and that humans, as its highest part, have a natural value (this view appeals particularly to people of religion). Others think that the world is a machine - and that we therefore have responsibility for making our own value judgements (including judgements about ourselves). Ruse provides a compelling analysis of these two rival views and the age-old conflict between them. In a wide-ranging and fascinating discussion, he draws on Darwinism and existentialism to argue that only the view that the world is a machine does justice to our humanity. This new series offers short and personal perspectives by expert thinkers on topics that we all encounter in our everyday lives.
Why do the best-known examples of evolutionary change involve the alteration of one kind of animal into another very similar one, like the evolution of a bigger beak in a bird? Wouldn't it be much more interesting to understand how beaks originated? Most people would agree, but until recently we didn't know much about such origins. That is now changing, with the growth of the interdisciplinary field evo-devo, which deals with the relationship between how embryos develop in the short term and how they (and the adults they grow into) evolve in the long term. One of the key questions is: can the origins of structures such as beaks, eyes, and shells be explained within a Darwinian framework? The answer seems to be yes, but only by expanding that framework. This book discusses the required expansion, and the current state of play regarding our understanding of evolutionary and developmental origins.
Developmental biology is seemingly well understood, with development widely accepted as being a series of programmed changes through which an egg turns into an adult organism, or a seed matures into a plant. However, the picture is much more complex than that: is it all genetically controlled or does environment have an influence? Is the final adult stage the target of development and everything else just a build-up to that point? Are developmental strategies the same in plants as in animals? How do we consider development in single-celled organisms? In this concise, engaging volume, Alessandro Minelli, a leading developmental biologist, addresses these key questions. Using familiar examples and easy-to-follow arguments, he offers fresh alternatives to a number of preconceptions and stereotypes, awakening the reader to the disparity of developmental phenomena across all main branches of the tree of life.
The intersection of biology and religion has spawned exciting new areas of academic research that raise issues central to understanding our own humanity and the living world. In this comprehensive and accessible survey, Michael L. Peterson and Dennis R. Venema explain the engagement between biology and religion on issues related to origins, evolution, design, suffering and evil, progress and purpose, love, humanity, morality, ecology, and the nature of religion itself. Does life have a chemical origin - or must there be a divine spark? How can religious claims about divine goodness be reconciled with widespread predation, suffering, and death in the animal kingdom? Peterson and Venema develop a philosophical discussion around such controversial questions. The book situates each topic in its historical, scientific, and theological context, making it the perfect introduction for upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, scholars, and the interested general reader.
This collection of new essays interprets and critically evaluates the philosophy of Paul Feyerabend. It offers innovative historical scholarship on Feyerabend's take on topics such as realism, empiricism, mimesis, voluntarism, pluralism, materialism, and the mind-body problem, as well as certain debates in the philosophy of physics. It also considers the ways in which Feyerabend's thought can contribute to contemporary debates in science and public policy, including questions about the nature of scientific methodology, the role of science in society, citizen science, scientism, and the role of expertise in public policy. The volume will provide readers with a comprehensive overview of the topics which Feyerabend engaged with throughout his career, showing both the breadth and the depth of his thought.
This volume presents new essays on the work and thought of physicist, psychologist, and philosopher Ernst Mach. Moving away from previous estimations of Mach as a pre-logical positivist, the essays reflect his rehabilitation as a thinker of direct relevance to debates in the contemporary philosophies of natural science, psychology, metaphysics, and mind. Topics covered include Mach's work on acoustical psychophysics and physics; his ideas on analogy and the principle of conservation of energy; the correct interpretation of his scheme of 'elements' and its relationship to his 'historical-critical' method; the relationship of his thought to movements such as American pragmatism, realism, and neutral monism, as well as to contemporary figures such as Friedrich Nietzsche; and the reception and influence of his works in Germany and Austria, particularly by the Vienna Circle.
In these essays Geoffrey Hellman presents a strong case for a healthy pluralism in mathematics and its logics, supporting peaceful coexistence despite what appear to be contradictions between different systems, and positing different frameworks serving different legitimate purposes. The essays refine and extend Hellman's modal-structuralist account of mathematics, developing a height-potentialist view of higher set theory which recognizes indefinite extendability of models and stages at which sets occur. In the first of three new essays written for this volume, Hellman shows how extendability can be deployed to derive the axiom of Infinity and that of Replacement, improving on earlier accounts; he also shows how extendability leads to attractive, novel resolutions of the set-theoretic paradoxes. Other essays explore advantages and limitations of restrictive systems - nominalist, predicativist, and constructivist. Also included are two essays, with Solomon Feferman, on predicative foundations of arithmetic.
If the laws of nature are fine-tuned for life, can we infer other universes with different laws? How could we even test such a theory without empirical access to those distant places? Can we believe in the multiverse of the Everett interpretation of quantum theory or in the reality of other possible worlds, as advocated by philosopher David Lewis? At the intersection of physics and philosophy of science, this book outlines the philosophical challenge to theoretical physics in a measured, well-grounded manner. The origin of multiverse theories are explored within the context of the fine-tuning problem and a systematic comparison between the various different multiverse models are included. Cosmologists, high energy physicists, and philosophers including graduate students and researchers will find a systematic exploration of such questions in this important book.
Is mathematics 'entangled' with its various formalisations? Or are the central concepts of mathematics largely insensitive to formalisation, or 'formalism free'? What is the semantic point of view and how is it implemented in foundational practice? Does a given semantic framework always have an implicit syntax? Inspired by what she calls the 'natural language moves' of Gödel and Tarski, Juliette Kennedy considers what roles the concepts of 'entanglement' and 'formalism freeness' play in a range of logical settings, from computability and set theory to model theory and second order logic, to logicality, developing an entirely original philosophy of mathematics along the way. The treatment is historically, logically and set-theoretically rich, and topics such as naturalism and foundations receive their due, but now with a new twist.