•  3469
    Exploring mouse trap history
    Evolution Education and Outreach 4 (3): 397-414. 2011.
    Since intelligent design (ID) advocates claimed the ubiquitous mouse trap as an example of systems that cannot have evolved, mouse trap history is doubly relevant to studying material culture. On the one hand, debunking ID claims about mouse traps and, by implication, also about other irreducibly complex systems has a high educational value. On the other hand, a case study of mouse trap history may contribute insights to the academic discussion about material culture evolution. Michael Behe argu…Read more
  •  243
    On Recognising the Paradox of Sex
    Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 8 (20160629). 2016.
    Discussions of the implications of sexual reproduction have appeared throughout the history of evolutionary biology, from Darwin to Weismann, Fisher, Muller, Maynard Smith, and Williams. The latest of these appearances highlighted an evolutionary paradox that had previously been overlooked. In many animal and plant species reproduction is obligately sexual and also half the offspring are male, yet the males contribute nothing but genes to reproduction. If asexual mutants of such a species were t…Read more
  •  230
    In 1935, A. G. Tansley, who was knighted later, proposed the ecosystem concept. Nevertheless, this concept was not without predecessors. Why did Tansley’s ecosystem prevail and not one of its competitors? The purpose of this article is to pin the distinguishing features of Tansley’s ecosystem down, as far as the published record allows. It is an exercise in finding the difference that made a difference. Besides being a pioneering ecologist, Tansley was an adept of psychoanalysis. His interest ev…Read more
  •  59
    The Paradox of Sexual Reproduction and the Levels of Selection: Can Sociobiology Shed a Light?
    Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 4 (20130604). 2012.
    The group selection controversy largely focuses on altruism (e.g., Wilson 1983; Lloyd 2001; Shavit 2004; Okasha 2006, 173ff; Borrello 2010; Leigh 2010; Rosas 2010; Hamilton and Dimond in press). Multilevel selection theory is a resolution of this controversy. Whereas kin selection partitions inclusive fitness into direct and indirect components (via influencing the replication of copies of genes in other individuals), multilevel selection considers within-group and between-group components of fi…Read more
  •  43
    The diverse interactors
    Biology and Philosophy 19 (2): 305-306. 2004.
  •  11
    This study sheds a light on economic roots of optimal foraging/mating theory. Two examples show graphical optimisation models of behavioural ecology that are identical to much older ones of economics. The knowledge transfer has been conscious and explicit in some cases, but also less visible in others. This does no imply plagiarism or misconduct but merely shows how knowledge can diffuse along obscure, sometimes unconscious, routes of non-public and private communication.
  •  9
    How counterfactuals of Red-Queen theory shed light on science and its historiography
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 64 53-64. 2017.
    A historical episode of evolutionary theory, which has lead to the Red Queen theory of the evolutionary maintenance of sex, includes two striking contingencies. These are used to explore alternative what-if scenarios, in order to test some common opinions about such counterfactuals. This sheds new light on the nature of science and its historiography. One counterfactual leads to an unexpected convergence of its result to that of the actual science but, nevertheless, differs in its causal structu…Read more
  •  9
    Motives and merits of counterfactual histories of science
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 73 19-26. 2019.
  •  4
    The so-called diet and patch models were foundational for evolutionary studies of foraging ecology. The diet model analyzed an organism’s choice between at least two different food or prey items. The patch model asked how much time a forager should invest in exploiting a resource patch that offered diminishing returns before moving on to search for another patch. Concerning sources of inspiration, however, some pioneers of optimal foraging theory explicitly denied an input from economics, others…Read more