University of Bristol
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2010
Leeds, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  •  3
    The Space Between
    Analyse & Kritik 41 (2): 239-258. 2019.
    Buchanan and Powell hope to rescue optimism about moral perfectibility from the ’received view’ of human evolution, by tweaking our view of the innate character of morality. I argue that their intervention is hampered by an unnecessary commitment to nativism, by gender bias within the received view, and by liberal presuppositions.
  •  14
    Conceptualizing communities as natural entities: a philosophical argument with basic and applied implications
    with David A. Steen, Kyle Barrett, and Craig Guyer
    Biology and Philosophy 32 (6): 1019-1034. 2017.
    Recent work has suggested that conservation efforts such as restoration ecology and invasive species eradication are largely value-driven pursuits. Concurrently, changes to global climate are forcing ecologists to consider if and how collections of species will migrate, and whether or not we should be assisting such movements. Herein, we propose a philosophical framework which addresses these issues by utilizing ecological and evolutionary interrelationships to delineate individual ecological co…Read more
  •  4
    Detecting threat-related intentional actions of others: Effects of image quality, response mode, and target cuing on vigilance
    with Raja Parasuraman, Ewart de Visser, W. Ryan McGarry, Elizabeth Hussey, Tyler Shaw, and James C. Thompson
    Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 15 (4): 275-290. 2009.
  •  101
    I argue for the usefulness of the evolutionary kind of biological individual.
  •  181
    The concept of adaptation is pivotal to modern evolutionary thinking, but it has long been the subject of controversy, especially in respect of the relative roles of selection versus constraints in explaining the traits of organisms. This paper tackles a different problem for the concept of adaptation: its interpretation in light of multilevel selection theory. In particular, I arbitrate a dispute that has broken out between the proponents of rival perspectives on multilevel adaptations. Many e…Read more
  •  604
    The Multiple Realizability of Biological Individuals
    Journal of Philosophy 110 (8): 413-435. 2013.
    Biological theory demands a clear organism concept, but at present biologists cannot agree on one. They know that counting particular units, and not counting others, allows them to generate explanatory and predictive descriptions of evolutionary processes. Yet they lack a unified theory telling them which units to count. In this paper, I offer a novel account of biological individuality, which reconciles conflicting definitions of ‘organism’ by interpreting them as describing alternative reali…Read more
  •  33
    Microbes are generally thought of as unicellular organisms, but we know that many microbes live as parts of biofilms—complex, surface-attached microbial communities numbering millions of cells. Some authors have recently argued in favour of reconceiving biofilms as biological entities in their own right. In particular, some have claimed that multispecies biofilms are evolutionary individuals : 10126–10132 2015). Against this view, I defend the conservative consensus that selection acts primarily…Read more
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  •  42
    A levels-of-selection approach to evolutionary individuality
    Biology and Philosophy 31 (6): 893-911. 2016.
    What changes when an evolutionary transition in individuality takes place? Many different answers have been given, in respect of different cases of actual transition, but some have suggested a general answer: that a major transition is a change in the extent to which selection acts at one hierarchical level rather than another. The current paper evaluates some different ways to develop this general answer as a way to characterise the property ‘evolutionary individuality’; and offers a justificat…Read more
  •  134
    Evolutionary Transitions to Multicellular Life (review)
    Quarterly Review of Biology 91 (3): 370-371. 2016.
  •  33
    Noah and the spaceship: Evolution for twenty-first century Christians
    Biology and Philosophy 24 (5): 725-734. 2009.
    Evolution has increasingly become a topic of conflict between scientists and Christians, but Alexandre Meinesz’s recent book How Life Began aims to provide a reconciliation between the two. Here I review his somewhat unorthodox perspective on major transitions, alien origins and the meaning of life, with a critical focus on his account of the generation of multicellularity.
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  •  17
    Styles of Reasoning in the British Life Sciences: Shared Assumptions, 1820–1858 (review)
    British Journal for the History of Science 42 (1): 143-145. 2009.
  •  127
    Anarchy, socialism and a Darwinian left
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 37 (1): 136-150. 2006.
    In A Darwinian left Peter Singer aims to reconcile Darwinian theory with left wing politics, using evolutionary game theory and in particular a model proposed by Robert Axelrod, which shows that cooperation can be an evolutionarily successful strategy. In this paper I will show that whilst Axelrod’s model can give support to a kind of left wing politics, it is not the kind that Singer himself envisages. In fact, it is shown that there are insurmountable problems for the idea of increasing Axelro…Read more
  •  727
    Plant Individuality and Multilevel Selection Theory
    In Kim Sterelny & Brett Calcott (eds.), The Major Transitions Revisited, Mit Press. pp. 227--250. 2011.
    This chapter develops the idea that the germ-soma split and the suppression of individual fitness differences within the corporate entity are not always essential steps in the evolution of corporate individuals. It illustrates some consequences for multilevel selection theory. It presents evidence that genetic heterogeneity may not always be a barrier to successful functioning as a higher-level individual. This chapter shows that levels-of-selection theorists are wrong to assume that the central…Read more
  •  167
    Origins of Evolutionary Transitions
    Journal of Biosciences 39 (2): 303-317. 2014.
  •  661
    The Problem of Biological Individuality
    Biological Theory 5 (4): 312-325. 2010.
    Darwin’s classic ‘Origin of Species’ (Darwin 1859) described forces of selection acting upon individuals, but there remains a great deal of controversy about what exactly the status and definition of a biological individual is. Recently some authors have argued that the individual is dispensable – that an inability to pin it down is not problematic because little rests on it anyway. The aim of this paper is to show that there is a real problem of biological individuality, and an urgent need to a…Read more
  •  10
    The evolution of cooperation
    The Philosophers' Magazine 67 59-67. 2014.
  •  46
    Philosophy of Microbiology (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2015. 2015.
  •  441
    Plant individuality: a solution to the demographer’s dilemma
    Biology and Philosophy 27 (3): 321-361. 2012.
    The problem of plant individuality is something which has vexed botanists throughout the ages, with fashion swinging back and forth from treating plants as communities of individuals (Darwin 1800 ; Braun and Stone 1853 ; Münch 1938 ) to treating them as organisms in their own right, and although the latter view has dominated mainstream thought most recently (Harper 1977 ; Cook 1985 ; Ariew and Lewontin 2004 ), a lively debate conducted mostly in Scandinavian journals proves that the issues are f…Read more