• Towards a 'Machiavellian' theory of emotional appraisal
    In Dylan Evans & Pierre Cruse (eds.), Emotion, Evolution and Rationality, Oxford University Press. 2004.
  •  108
    Mismatch is a prominent concept in evolutionary medicine and a number of philosophers have published analyses of this concept. The word ‘mismatch’ has been used in a diversity of ways across a range of sciences, leading these authors to regard it as a vague concept in need of philosophical clarification. Here, in contrast, we concentrate on the use of mismatch in modelling and experimentation in evolutionary medicine. This reveals a rigorous theory of mismatch within which the term ‘mismatch’ is…Read more
  •  8
    Recent work on the evolution of culture (review)
    Metascience 15 (2): 265-270. 2006.
  •  88
    Measuring Causal Specificity
    with Arnaud Pocheville, Brett Calcott, Karola Stotz, Hyunju Kim, and Rob Knight
    Philosophy of Science 82 (4): 529-555. 2015.
    Several authors have argued that causes differ in the degree to which they are ‘specific’ to their effects. Woodward has used this idea to enrich his influential interventionist theory of causal explanation. Here we propose a way to measure causal specificity using tools from information theory. We show that the specificity of a causal variable is not well-defined without a probability distribution over the states of that variable. We demonstrate the tractability and interest of our proposed mea…Read more
  •  38
    Multispecies individuals
    History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40 (2): 33. 2018.
    We assess the arguments for recognising functionally integrated multispecies consortia as genuine biological individuals, including cases of so-called ‘holobionts’. We provide two examples in which the same core biochemical processes that sustain life are distributed across a consortium of individuals of different species. Although the same chemistry features in both examples, proponents of the holobiont as unit of evolution would recognize one of the two cases as a multispecies individual whils…Read more
  •  8
    Comparing Causes - an Information-Theoretic Approach to Specificity, Proportionality and Stability
    with Arnaud Pocheville and Karola C. Stotz
    Proceedings of the 15th Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science. 2017.
    The interventionist account of causation offers a criterion to distinguish causes from non-causes. It also aims at defining various desirable properties of causal relationships, such as specificity, proportionality and stability. Here we apply an information-theoretic approach to these properties. We show that the interventionist criterion of causation is formally equivalent to non-zero specificity, and that there are natural, information-theoretic ways to explicate the distinction between poten…Read more
  •  1
    The Case for Basic Biological Research
    with Isobel Ronai
    Trends in Molecular Medicine 25 (2). 2019.
    The majority of biomedical and biological research relies on a few molecular biology techniques. Here we show that eight key molecular biology techniques would not exist without basic biological research.We also find that the scientific reward system does not sufficiently value basic biological research into molecular mechanisms.
  •  316
    Genetic information: A metaphor in search of a theory
    Philosophy of Science 68 (3): 394-412. 2001.
    John Maynard Smith has defended against philosophical criticism the view that developmental biology is the study of the expression of information encoded in the genes by natural selection. However, like other naturalistic concepts of information, this ‘teleosemantic’ information applies to many non-genetic factors in development. Maynard Smith also fails to show that developmental biology is concerned with teleosemantic information. Some other ways to support Maynard Smith’s conclusion are consi…Read more
  •  29
    In a recent article in this journal, Zachary Ardern criticizes our view that the most promising candidate for a naturalized criterion of disease is the "selected effects" account of biological function and dysfunction. Here we reply to Ardern’s criticisms and, more generally, clarify the relationship between adaptation and dysfunction in the evolution of health and disease.
  •  8
    Volume 98, Issue 1, March 2020, Page 205-208.
  •  22
    Signals That Make a Difference
    with Brett Calcott and Arnaud Pocheville
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (1): 233-258. 2020.
    Recent work by Brian Skyrms offers a very general way to think about how information flows and evolves in biological networks—from the way monkeys in a troop communicate to the way cells in a body coordinate their actions. A central feature of his account is a way to formally measure the quantity of information contained in the signals in these networks. In this article, we argue there is a tension between how Skyrms talks of signalling networks and his formal measure of information. Although Sk…Read more
  •  50
    Biological Criteria of Disease: Four Ways of Going Wrong
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 1 (4). 2017.
    We defend a view of the distinction between the normal and the pathological according to which that distinction has an objective, biological component. We accept that there is a normative component to the concept of disease, especially as applied to human beings. Nevertheless, an organism cannot be in a pathological state unless something has gone wrong for that organism from a purely biological point of view. Biology, we argue, recognises two sources of biological normativity, which jointly gen…Read more
  • Review (review)
    The Thomist 72 665-669. 2008.
  • Review (review)
    The Thomist 68 472-476. 2004.
  • Review (review)
    The Thomist 70 467-471. 2006.
  •  140
    Toward a "machiavellian" theory of emotional appraisal
    In Dylan Evans & Pierre Cruse (eds.), Emotion, Evolution, and Rationality, Oxford University Press. 2002.
    The aim of appraisal theory in the psychology of emotion is to identify the features of the emotion-eliciting situation that lead to the production of one emotion rather than another2. A model of emotional appraisal takes the form of a set of dimensions against which potentially emotion-eliciting situations are assessed. The dimensions of the emotion hyperspace might include, for example, whether the eliciting situation fulfills or frustrates the subject’s goals or whether an actor in the elicit…Read more
  •  151
    Don’t Give Up on Basic Emotions
    with Andrea Scarantino
    Emotion Review 3 (4): 444-454. 2011.
    We argue that there are three coherent, nontrivial notions of basic-ness: conceptual basic-ness, biological basic-ness, and psychological basic-ness. There is considerable evidence for conceptually basic emotion categories (e.g., “anger,” “fear”). These categories do not designate biologically basic emotions, but some forms of anger, fear, and so on that are biologically basic in a sense we will specify. Finally, two notions of psychological basic-ness are distinguished, and the evidence for the…Read more
  •  27
    Causal reasoning about genetics: synthesis and future directions
    with Kate E. Lynch, Ilan Dar Nimrod, and James Morandini
    Behavior Genetics 2 (49): 221-234. 2019.
    When explaining the causes of human behavior, genes are often given a special status. They are thought to relate to an intrinsic human 'essence', and essentialist biases have been shown to skew the way in which causation is assessed. Causal reasoning in general is subject to other pre-existing biases, including beliefs about normativity and morality. In this synthesis we show how factors which influence causal reasoning can be mapped to a framework of genetic essentialism, which reveals both the…Read more
  •  10
    Discussion: Three ways to misunderstand developmental systems theory
    Biology and Philosophy 20 (2-3): 417-425. 2005.
    Developmental systems theory is a general theoretical perspective on development, heredity and evolution. It is intended to facilitate the study of interactions between the many factors that influence development without reviving `dichotomous' debates over nature or nurture, gene or environment, biology or culture. Several recent papers have addressed the relationship between DST and the thriving new discipline of evolutionary developmental biology. The contributions to this literature by evolut…Read more
  •  1076
    Developmental systems theory (DST) is a wholeheartedly epigenetic approach to development, inheritance and evolution. The developmental system of an organism is the entire matrix of resources that are needed to reproduce the life cycle. The range of developmental resources that are properly described as being inherited, and which are subject to natural selection, is far wider than has traditionally been allowed. Evolution acts on this extended set of developmental resources. From a developmental…Read more
  •  28
    Titles and abstracts for the Pitt-London Workshop in the Philosophy of Biology and Neuroscience: September 2001
    with Karen Arnold, James Bogen, Ingo Brigandt, Joe Cain, Catherine Kendig, James Lennox, Alan C. Love, Peter Machamer, Jacqueline Sullivan, Gianmatteo Mameli, Sandra D. Mitchell, David Papineau, Karola Stotz, and D. M. Walsh
    Titles and abstracts for the Pitt-London Workshop in the Philosophy of Biology and Neuroscience: September 2001.
  •  7
    Gut Reactions: A Perceptual Theory of Emotion (review)
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (3): 559-567. 2008.
  • Review (review)
    The Thomist 62 316-319. 1998.
  • Book Review (review)
    Journal of the American Oriental Society 111 (2): 413-414. 1991.
  • Book Review (review)
    Journal of the American Oriental Society 116 (3): 584-585. 1996.
  • Book Review (review)
    Journal of the American Oriental Society 115 (2): 346-347. 1995.
  • Book Review (review)
    Journal of the American Oriental Society 120 (4): 636-637. 2000.
  • Book Review (review)
    Journal of the American Oriental Society 112 (2): 345-346. 1992.
  • Book Review (review)
    Journal of the American Oriental Society 115 (1): 159-160. 1995.