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Adaptationism is often taken to be the thesis that most traits are adaptations. In order to assess this thesis, it seems we must be able to establish either an exhaustive set of all traits or a representative sample of this set. Either task requires a more systematic and principled way of individuating traits than is currently available. Moreover, ...

Philosophy of Biology - evolutionContributed Papers

Reciprocal causation is the view that adaptive evolution is a bidirectional process, whereby organisms and environments impinge on each other through cycles of niche construction and natural selection. I argue, however, that reciprocal causation is incompatible with the recent view that natural selection is a metaphysically emergent causal process....

Philosophy of Biology - evolutionContributed Papers

Evolutionary transitions in individuality (ETIs) are often conceptualized in a static rather than dynamical way. Abstractly, once an ETI is complete, the particles or lower-level entities (e.g., genes or cells) are regarded as the “bricks” constituting the “building” of the higher-level entities or collective (e.g., chromosomes or multicell...

Philosophy of Biology - evolutionSymposium

A popular account of evolutionary transitions in individuality (ETIs) postulates a crucial change in the nature of fitness during an ETI. Fitness at the collective level is supposedly “transferred” or “decoupled” during the process (Michod, 2005; Okasha, 2006). Recently, this view of ETIs has been challenged on the grounds that it may be be...

Philosophy of Biology - evolutionSymposium

This paper provides a formal treatment of the argument that syntax alone cannot give rise to compositionality in a signalling game context. This conclusion follows from the standard information-theoretic machinery used in the signalling game literature to describe the informational content of signals.

Philosophy of Biology - evolutionContributed Papers

Scientists engage in relative significance controversies when they investigate the importance of a cause in producing a phenomenon of interest. In order to engage in these controversies, however, a reference class must be specified. In what follows, I explore how the problem of reference class choice arises in controversies in evolutionary biology....

Philosophy of Biology - evolutionContributed Papers

Philosophy of Biology - evolutionUPSS Session Submission

The origins of individuality in evolution has been a major topic both in evolutionary biology and philosophy of biology over the past 30 years. New levels of individuality are the outcomes of successive processes known as evolutionary transitions in individuality (ETIs). Arguably, the most influential models of ETIs place fitness at the center of t...

Philosophy of Biology - evolutionSymposium

Philosophy of Biology - general / otherPoster

The concept of scaffold is widespread in science and increasingly common in evolutionary biology (Chiu and Gilbert 2015; Love and Wimsatt 2019; Black et al. 2020). While this concept figures in causal explanations, it is far from clear what scaffolds are and what role they play in those explanations (Charbonneau 2015). Here we present evolutionary ...

Philosophy of Biology - evolutionContributed Papers

In this speculative talk, I'm going to "think" adjacently with Stuart Kauffman's recent work on what he calls "the adjacent possible" in biological systems (Kauffman 2019). My aim is to articulate a way of thinking about the role of "environments" and behavior as the leading edge of evolutionary transitions (here: transitions in both individuality ...

Philosophy of Biology - evolutionSymposium

Proponents of the extended evolutionary synthesis have argued that there are explanatory gaps in evolutionary biology that cannot be bridged by standard evolutionary theory. In this paper, we consider what sort of explanatory gaps they are referring to. We outline three possibilities, data-based gaps, frame-based gaps, and elusive gaps. We then exa...

Philosophy of Biology - evolutionContributed Papers

There is surprisingly little philosophical work on conceptually spelling out the difference between the traits on which natural selection may be said to act (e.g. “having an above average running speed”) and merely circumstantial traits (e.g. “happening to be in the path of a forest fire”). Here, I show that the two existing proposals as to...

Philosophy of Biology - evolutionContributed Papers

Research in evolutionary ecology on random foraging ignores the possibility that some random foraging is an adaptation not to environmental randomness, but to what Wimsatt called "perceived randomness". This occurs when environmental features are unpredictable, whether physically random or not. Mere perceived randomness may occur, for example, due ...

Philosophy of Biology - evolutionContributed Papers

During an evolutionary transition in individuality (ETI), lower-level entities interact in such a way that they produce higher-level entities that become new units invoked in evolutionary explanation at this higher level (Michod, 2005; Okasha, 2006). In this paper, we will argue that to understand an ETI, it is crucial to first understand the type ...

Philosophy of Biology - evolutionSymposium