•  16
    Charting just futures for Aotearoa New Zealand: philosophy for and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic
    with Tim Mulgan, Sophia Enright, Marco Grix, Ushana Jayasuriya, Tēvita O. Ka‘ili, Adriana M. Lear, 'Aisea N. Matthew Māhina, 'Ōkusitino Māhina, John Matthewson, Andrew Moore, Vanessa Schouten, and Krushil Watene
    Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand. forthcoming.
    The global pandemic needs to mark a turning point for the peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand. How can we make sure that our culturally diverse nation charts an equitable and sustainable path through and beyond this new world? In a less affluent future, how can we ensure that all New Zealanders have fair access to opportunities? One challenge is to preserve the sense of common purpose so critical to protecting each other in the face of Covid-19. How can we centre what we have learnt about resilience…Read more
  •  22
    Microbiome causality: further reflections
    with Kate E. Lynch and Maureen A. O’Malley
    Biology and Philosophy 35 (2): 1-16. 2020.
  •  3
    How causal are microbiomes? A comparison with the Helicobacter pylori explanation of ulcers
    with Kate E. Lynch and Maureen A. O’Malley
    Biology and Philosophy 34 (6): 62. 2019.
    Human microbiome research makes causal connections between entire microbial communities and a wide array of traits that range from physiological diseases to psychological states. To evaluate these causal claims, we first examine a well-known single-microbe causal explanation: of Helicobacter pylori causing ulcers. This apparently straightforward causal explanation is not so simple, however. It does not achieve a key explanatory standard in microbiology, of Koch’s postulates, which rely on manipu…Read more
  •  7
    How causal are microbiomes? A comparison with the Helicobacter pylori explanation of ulcers
    with Kate E. Lynch and Maureen A. O’Malley
    Biology and Philosophy 34 (6): 62. 2019.
    Human microbiome research makes causal connections between entire microbial communities and a wide array of traits that range from physiological diseases to psychological states. To evaluate these causal claims, we first examine a well-known single-microbe causal explanation: of Helicobacter pylori causing ulcers. This apparently straightforward causal explanation is not so simple, however. It does not achieve a key explanatory standard in microbiology, of Koch’s postulates, which rely on manipu…Read more
  •  15
    Predator free New Zealand: Social, cultural, and ethical challenges
    with L. Ellis, M. Hohneck, C. Irons, J. Knight, K. Littin, J. Maclaurin, E. MacDonald, C. Speedy, T. Steeves, K. Watene, and P. Wehi
  •  44
    How causal are microbiomes? A comparison with the H elicobacter pylori explanation of ulcers
    with Kate E. Lynch and Maureen A. O’Malley
    Biology and Philosophy 34 (6): 62. 2019.
    Human microbiome research makes causal connections between entire microbial communities and a wide array of traits that range from physiological diseases to psychological states. To evaluate these causal claims, we first examine a well-known single-microbe causal explanation: of Helicobacter pylori causing ulcers. This apparently straightforward causal explanation is not so simple, however. It does not achieve a key explanatory standard in microbiology, of Koch’s postulates, which rely on manipu…Read more
  •  21
    Striving for clarity about the “Lamarckian” nature of CRISPR-Cas systems
    with Sam Woolley, David Kelley, Anthony M. Poole, and Austen R. D. Ganley
    Biology and Philosophy 34 (1): 11. 2019.
    Koonin argues that CRISPR-Cas systems present the best-known case in point for Lamarckian evolution because they satisfy his proposed criteria for the specific inheritance of acquired adaptive characteristics. We see two interrelated issues with Koonin’s characterization of CRISPR-Cas systems as Lamarckian. First, at times he appears to confuse an account of the CRISPR-Cas system with an account of the mechanism it employs. We argue there is no evidence for the CRISPR-Cas system being “Lamarckia…Read more
  •  26
    Microbes, mathematics, and models
    with Maureen A. O'Malley
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 72 1-10. 2018.
    Microbial model systems have a long history of fruitful use in fields that include evolution and ecology. In order to develop further insight into modelling practice, we examine how the competitive exclusion and coexistence of competing species have been modelled mathematically and materially over the course of a long research history. In particular, we investigate how microbial models of these dynamics interact with mathematical or computational models of the same phenomena. Our cases illuminat…Read more
  •  32
    What could arsenic bacteria teach us about life?
    Biology and Philosophy 28 (2): 205-218. 2013.
    In this paper, I discuss the recent discovery of alleged arsenic bacteria in Mono Lake, California, and the ensuing debate in the scientific community about the validity and significance of these results. By situating this case in the broader context of projects that search for anomalous life forms, I examine the methodology and upshots of challenging biochemical constraints on living things. I distinguish between a narrower and a broader sense in which we might challenge or change our knowledge…Read more
  •  88
    Experiments, Simulations, and Epistemic Privilege
    Philosophy of Science 81 (4): 516-536. 2014.
    Experiments are commonly thought to have epistemic privilege over simulations. Two ideas underpin this belief: first, experiments generate greater inferential power than simulations, and second, simulations cannot surprise us the way experiments can. In this article I argue that neither of these claims is true of experiments versus simulations in general. We should give up the common practice of resting in-principle judgments about the epistemic value of cases of scientific inquiry on whether we…Read more
  •  34
    Flies from meat and wasps from trees: Reevaluating Francesco Redi’s spontaneous generation experiments
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45 (1): 34-42. 2014.
    Francesco Redi’s seventeenth-century experiments on insect generation are regarded as a key contribution to the downfall of belief in spontaneous generation. Scholars praise Redi for his experiments demonstrating that meat does not generate insects, but condemn him for his claim elsewhere that trees can generate wasps and gallflies. He has been charged with rejecting spontaneous generation only to change his mind and accept it, and in the process, with failing as a rigorous experimental philosop…Read more
  •  7
    Flies from meat and wasps from trees: Reevaluating Francesco Redi’s spontaneous generation experiments
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45 34-42. 2013.