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Articles 1 - 16 of 16

Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

Evotext: A New Tool For Analyzing The Biological Sciences, Grant Ramsey, Charles H. Pence Jan 2016

Evotext: A New Tool For Analyzing The Biological Sciences, Grant Ramsey, Charles H. Pence

Faculty Publications

We introduce here evoText, a new tool for automated analysis of the literature in the biological sciences. evoText contains a database of hundreds of thousands of journal articles and an array of analysis tools for generating quantitative data on the nature and history of life science, especially ecology and evolutionary biology. This article describes the features of evoText, presents a variety of examples of the kinds of analyses that evoText can run, and offers a brief tutorial describing how to use it.


Is Genetic Drift A Force?, Charles H. Pence Jan 2016

Is Genetic Drift A Force?, Charles H. Pence

Faculty Publications

One hotly debated philosophical question in the analysis of evolutionary theory concerns whether or not evolution and the various factors which constitute it (selection, drift, mutation, and so on) may profitably be considered as analogous to “forces” in the traditional, Newtonian sense. Several compelling arguments assert that the force picture is incoherent, due to the peculiar nature of genetic drift. I consider two of those arguments here—that drift lacks a predictable direction, and that drift is constitutive of evolutionary systems—and show that they both fail to demonstrate that a view of genetic drift as a force is untenable ...


Darwin’S Dice: The Idea Of Chance In The Thought Of Charles Darwin, Charles H. Pence Jan 2015

Darwin’S Dice: The Idea Of Chance In The Thought Of Charles Darwin, Charles H. Pence

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


The Many Chances Of Charles Darwin, Charles H. Pence Jan 2015

The Many Chances Of Charles Darwin, Charles H. Pence

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Military Genomic Testing: Proportionality, Expected Benefits, And The Connection Between Genotypes And Phenotypes, Charles H. Pence Jan 2015

Military Genomic Testing: Proportionality, Expected Benefits, And The Connection Between Genotypes And Phenotypes, Charles H. Pence

Faculty Publications

Mehlman and Li offer a framework for approaching the bioethical issues raised by the military use of genomics that is compellingly grounded in both the contemporary civilian and military ethics of medical research, arguing that military commanders must be bound by the two principles of paternalism and proportionality. I agree fully. But I argue here that this is a much higher bar than we may fully realize. Just as the principle of proportionality relies upon a thorough assessment of harms caused and military advantage gained, the use of genomic research, on Mehlman and Li's view, will require an accurate ...


The Early History Of Chance In Evolution, Charles H. Pence Jan 2015

The Early History Of Chance In Evolution, Charles H. Pence

Faculty Publications

Work throughout the history and philosophy of biology frequently employs ‘chance’, ‘unpredictability’, ‘probability’, and many similar terms. One common way of understanding how these concepts were introduced in evolution focuses on two central issues: the first use of statistical methods in evolution (Galton), and the first use of the concept of “objective chance” in evolution (Wright). I argue that while this approach has merit, it fails to fully capture interesting philosophical reflections on the role of chance expounded by two of Galton's students, Karl Pearson and W.F.R. Weldon. Considering a question more familiar from contemporary philosophy of ...


Is Organismic Fitness At The Basis Of Evolutionary Theory?, Charles H. Pence, Grant Ramsey Jan 2015

Is Organismic Fitness At The Basis Of Evolutionary Theory?, Charles H. Pence, Grant Ramsey

Faculty Publications

Fitness is a central theoretical concept in evolutionary theory. Despite its importance, much debate has occurred over how to conceptualize and formalize fitness. One point of debate concerns the roles of organismic and trait fitness. In a recent addition to this debate, Elliott Sober argues that trait fitness is the central fitness concept, and that organismic fitness is of little value. In this paper, by contrast, we argue that it is organismic fitness that lies at the bases of both the conceptual role of fitness and its role as a measure of evolutionary dynamics.


Busting Myths About ‘Species’, Charles H. Pence Jan 2014

Busting Myths About ‘Species’, Charles H. Pence

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Fitness: Philosophical Problems, Grant Ramsey, Charles H. Pence Jan 2013

Fitness: Philosophical Problems, Grant Ramsey, Charles H. Pence

Faculty Publications

Fitness plays many roles throughout evolutionary theory, from a measure of populations in the wild to a central element in abstract theoretical presentations of natural selection. It has thus been the subject of an extensive philosophical literature, which has primarily centred on the way to understand the relationship between fitness values and reproductive outcomes. If fitness is a probabilistic or statistical quantity, how is it to be defined in general theoretical contexts? How can it be measured? Can a single conceptual model for fitness be offered that applies to all biological cases, or must fitness measures be case-specific? Philosophers have ...


A New Foundation For The Propensity Interpretation Of Fitness, Charles H. Pence, Grant Ramsey Jan 2013

A New Foundation For The Propensity Interpretation Of Fitness, Charles H. Pence, Grant Ramsey

Faculty Publications

The propensity interpretation of fitness (PIF) is commonly taken to be subject to a set of simple counterexamples. We argue that three of the most important of these are not counterexamples to the PIF itself, but only to the traditional mathematical model of this propensity: fitness as expected number of offspring. They fail to demonstrate that a new mathematical model of the PIF could not succeed where this older model fails. We then propose a new formalization of the PIF that avoids these (and other) counterexamples. By producing a counterexample-free model of the PIF, we call into question one of ...


Staffan Müller-Wille And Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, A Cultural History Of Heredity, Charles H. Pence Jan 2013

Staffan Müller-Wille And Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, A Cultural History Of Heredity, Charles H. Pence

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Oyun: A New, Free Program For Iterated Prisoner’S Dilemma Tournaments In The Classroom, Charles H. Pence, Lara Buchak Jan 2012

Oyun: A New, Free Program For Iterated Prisoner’S Dilemma Tournaments In The Classroom, Charles H. Pence, Lara Buchak

Faculty Publications

Evolutionary applications of game theory present one of the most pedagogically accessible varieties of genuine, contemporary theoretical biology. We present here Oyun (oy-oon, http://charlespence.net/oyun), a program designed to run iterated prisoner's dilemma tournaments, competitions between prisoner's dilemma strategies developed by the students themselves. Using this software, students are able to readily design and tweak their own strategies, and to see how they fare both in round-robin tournaments and in “evolutionary” tournaments, where the scores in a given “generation” directly determine contribution to the population in the next generation. Oyun is freely available, runs on Windows ...


Nietzsche’S Aesthetic Critique Of Darwin, Charles H. Pence Jan 2011

Nietzsche’S Aesthetic Critique Of Darwin, Charles H. Pence

Faculty Publications

Despite his position as one of the first philosophers to write in the “post- Darwinian” world, the critique of Darwin by Friedrich Nietzsche is often ignored for a host of unsatisfactory reasons. I argue that Nietzsche’s critique of Darwin is important to the study of both Nietzsche’s and Darwin’s impact on philosophy. Further, I show that the central claims of Nietzsche’s critique have been broadly misunderstood. I then present a new reading of Nietzsche’s core criticism of Darwin. An important part of Nietzsche’s response can best be understood as an aesthetic critique of Darwin ...


“Describing Our Whole Experience”: The Statistical Philosophies Of W.F.R. Weldon And Karl Pearson, Charles H. Pence Jan 2011

“Describing Our Whole Experience”: The Statistical Philosophies Of W.F.R. Weldon And Karl Pearson, Charles H. Pence

Faculty Publications

There are two motivations commonly ascribed to historical actors for taking up statistics: to reduce complicated data to a mean value (e.g., Quetelet), and to take account of diversity (e.g., Galton). Different motivations will, it is assumed, lead to different methodological decisions in the practice of the statistical sciences. Karl Pearson and W. F. R. Weldon are generally seen as following directly in Galton’s footsteps. I argue for two related theses in light of this standard interpretation, based on a reading of several sources in which Weldon, independently of Pearson, reflects on his own motivations. First, while ...


Elliott Sober: Did Darwin Write The Origin Backwards? Philosophical Essays On Darwin’S Theory, Charles H. Pence, Hope Hollocher, Ryan Nichols, Grant Ramsey, Edwin Siu, Daniel John Sportiello Jan 2011

Elliott Sober: Did Darwin Write The Origin Backwards? Philosophical Essays On Darwin’S Theory, Charles H. Pence, Hope Hollocher, Ryan Nichols, Grant Ramsey, Edwin Siu, Daniel John Sportiello

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Darwinian Populations And Natural Selection, Grant Ramsey, Hope Hollocher, Agustín Fuentes, Charles H. Pence, Edwin Siu Jan 2010

Darwinian Populations And Natural Selection, Grant Ramsey, Hope Hollocher, Agustín Fuentes, Charles H. Pence, Edwin Siu

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.