•  16
    Isolability as the unifying feature of modularity
    Biology and Philosophy 34 (2): 20. 2019.
    Although the concept of modularity is pervasive across fields and disciplines, philosophers and scientists use the term in a variety of different ways. This paper identifies two distinct ways of thinking about modularity, and considers what makes them similar and different. For philosophers of mind and cognitive science, cognitive modularity helps explain the capacities of brains to process sundry and distinct kinds of informational input. For philosophy of biology and evolutionary science, biol…Read more
  •  5
    Precision (Mis)Education
    Hastings Center Report 50 (1). 2020.
  •  14
    Heritability
    with Stephen M. Downes
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2019.
    Lucas Matthews and I substantially revised my SEP entry on Heritability. This version includes discussion of the missing heritability problem and other issues that arise from the use of Genome Wide Association Studies by Behavioral Geneticists.
  •  1
    The Nature-nurture debate today
    Psychology Review 24 (1): 25-27. 2018.
  •  25
    Across the great divide: pluralism and the hunt for missing heritability
    with Eric Turkheimer
    Synthese 198 (3): 2297-2311. 2019.
    Genetic explanation of complex human behavior presents an excellent test case for pluralism. Although philosophers agree that successful scientific investigation of behavior is pluralistic, there remains disagreement regarding integration and elimination—is the plurality of approaches here to stay, or merely a waystation on the road to monism? In this paper we introduce an issue taken very seriously by scientists yet mostly ignored by philosophers—the missing heritability problem—and assess its …Read more
  •  159
    Chance in the Modern Synthesis
    with Anya Plutynski, Kenneth Blake Vernon, and Dan Molter
    In Grant Ramsey & Charles H. Pence (eds.), Chance in Evolution, The University of Chicago Press. pp. 76-102. 2016.
    The modern synthesis in evolutionary biology is taken to be that period in which a consensus developed among biologists about the major causes of evolution, a consensus that informed research in evolutionary biology for at least a half century. As such, it is a particularly fruitful period to consider when reflecting on the meaning and role of chance in evolutionary explanation. Biologists of this period make reference to “chance” and loose cognates of “chance,” such as: “random,” “contingent,” …Read more
  •  21
    On mechanistic reasoning in unexpected places: the case of population genetics
    Biology and Philosophy 32 (6): 999-1018. 2017.
    A strong case has been made for the role and value of mechanistic reasoning in process-oriented sciences, such as molecular biology and neuroscience. This paper shifts focus to assess the role of mechanistic reasoning in an area where it is neither obvious nor expected: population genetics. Population geneticists abstract away from the causal-mechanical details of individual organisms and, instead, use mathematics to describe population-level, statistical phenomena. This paper, first, develops a…Read more
  •  49
    Does your family make you smarter: Nature, nurture, and human autonomy, James Flynn. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2016), 258, Softcover, ISBN-10: 1316604462 (review)
    with Eric Turkheimer
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 65 35-40. 2017.
  •  21
    Embedded Mechanisms and Phylogenetics
    Philosophy of Science 82 (5): 1116-1126. 2015.
    A strong case has been made for the role and value of mechanistic explanation in neuroscience and molecular biology. A similar demonstration in other domains of scientific investigation, however, remains an important challenge of scope for the new mechanists. This article helps answer that challenge by demonstrating one valuable role mechanisms play in phylogenetics. Using the transition/transversion rate parameter as a case example, this article argues that models embedded with mechanisms produ…Read more
  •  52
    On closing the gap between philosophical concepts and their usage in scientific practice: a lesson from the debate about natural selection as a mechanism
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 55 21-28. 2016.
    In addition to theorizing about the role and value of mechanisms in scientific explanation or the causal structure of the world, there is a fundamental task of getting straight what a ‘mechanism’ is in the first place. Broadly, this paper is about the challenge of application: the challenge of aligning one's philosophical account of a scientific concept with the manner in which that concept is actually used in scientific practice. This paper considers a case study of the challenge of application…Read more