•  3
    Remapping Race in a Global Context
    with Ludovica Lorusso
    Routledge. 2021.
    Investigating the reality and significance of racial categories, Remapping Race in a Global Context examines the role of race in human genomics, biomedicine, and struggles for social justice around the world. In this book, biologists, anthropologists, historians, and philosophers inspect critical questions around the biological reality of race and how it has been understood in different national and regional contexts. The essays also examine debates on the usefulness of race in medical and epide…Read more
  •  3726
    James and Dewey on Abstraction
    The Pluralist 9 (2): 1-28. 2014.
    Reification is to abstraction as disease is to health. Whereas abstraction is singling out, symbolizing, and systematizing, reification is neglecting abstractive context, especially functional, historical, and analytical-level context. William James and John Dewey provide similar and nuanced arguments regarding the perils and promises of abstraction. They share an abstraction-reification account. The stages of abstraction and the concepts of “vicious abstractionism,” “/the/ psychologist’s fallac…Read more
  •  6
    A. W. F. Edwards is one of the most influential mathematical geneticists in the history of the discipline. One of the last students of R. A. Fisher, Edwards pioneered the statistical analysis of phylogeny in collaboration with L. L. Cavalli-Sforza, and helped establish Fisher's concept of likelihood as a standard of statistical and scientific inference. In this book, edited by philosopher of science Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, Edwards's key papers are assembled alongside commentaries by leading sc…Read more
  •  101
    Mapping the Deep Blue Oceans
    In Timothy Tambassi (ed.), The Philosophy of GIS. pp. 99-123. 2019.
    The ocean terrain spanning the globe is vast and complex—far from an immense flat plain of mud. To map these depths accurately and wisely, we must understand how cartographic abstraction and generalization work both in analog cartography and digital GIS. This chapter explores abstraction practices such as selection and exaggeration with respect to mapping the oceans, showing significant continuity in such practices across cartography and contemporary GIS. The role of measurement and abstraction—…Read more
  •  223
    A map is not its territory. Taking a map too seriously may lead to pernicious reification: map and world are conflated. As one family of cases of such reification, I focus on maps exuding the omphalos syndrome, whereby a centred location on the map is taken to be the world navel of, for instance, an empire. I build on themes from my book _When Maps Become the World_, in which I analogize scientific theories to maps, and develop the tools of assumption archaeology and integration platforms. Here …Read more
  •  13
    When Maps Become the World
    University of Chicago Press. 2020.
    Map making and, ultimately, _map thinking_ is ubiquitous across literature, cosmology, mathematics, psychology, and genetics. We partition, summarize, organize, and clarify our world via spatialized representations. Our maps and, more generally, our representations seduce and persuade; they build and destroy. They are the ultimate record of empires and of our evolving comprehension of our world. This book is about the promises and perils of map thinking. Maps are purpose-driven abstractions, dis…Read more
  •  13
    A Beginner’s Guide to the New Population Genomics of Homo sapiens
    The Harvard Review of Philosophy 26 135-151. 2019.
    It is important to understand the science underlying philosophical debates. In particular, careful reflection is needed on the scientific study of the origins of Homo sapiens, the division of current human populations into ethnicities, populations, or races, and the potential impact of genomics on personalized medicine. Genomic approaches to the origins and divisions of our species are among the most multi-dimensional areas of contemporary science, combining mathematical modeling, computer scien…Read more
  •  530
    Race and Biology
    In Linda Alcoff, Luvell Anderson & Paul Taylor (eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Race, Routledge. forthcoming.
    The ontology of race is replete with moral, political, and scientific implications. This book chapter surveys proposals about the reality of race, distinguishing among three levels of analysis: biogenomic, biological, and social. The relatively homogeneous structure of human genetic variation casts doubt upon the practice of postulating distinct biogenomic races that might be mapped onto socially recognized race categories.
  •  17
    Prediction in Selectionist Evolutionary Theory
    Philosophy of Science 76 (5): 889-901. 2009.
    Selectionist evolutionary theory has often been faulted for not making novel predictions that are surprising, risky, and correct. I argue that it in fact exhibits the theoretical virtue of predictive capacity in addition to two other virtues: explanatory unification and model fitting. Two case studies show the predictive capacity of selectionist evolutionary theory: parallel evolutionary change in E. coli, and the origin of eukaryotic cells through endosymbiosis.
  •  2
    Ontologies and Politics of Biogenomic'Race'
    Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory 60 (136): 54-80. 2013.
  •  65
    Grasping at Realist Straws (review)
    with Juha Saatsi, Stathis Psillos, and Kyle Stanford
    Metascience 18 (3): 355-390. 2009.
  •  1004
    There are two fundamentally distinct kinds of biological theorizing. "Formal biology" focuses on the relations, captured in formal laws, among mathematically abstracted properties of abstract objects. Population genetics and theoretical mathematical ecology, which are cases of formal biology, thus share methods and goals with theoretical physics. "Compositional biology," on the other hand, is concerned with articulating the concrete structure, mechanisms, and function, through developmental and …Read more
  •  1839
    World Navels
    Cartouche of the Canadian Cartographic Association 89 15-21. 2014.
  •  1644
    August Weismann on Germ-Plasm Variation
    Journal of the History of Biology 34 (3): 517-555. 2001.
    August Weismann is famous for having argued against the inheritance of acquired characters. However, an analysis of his work indicates that Weismann always held that changes in external conditions, acting during development, were the necessary causes of variation in the hereditary material. For much of his career he held that acquired germ-plasm variation was inherited. An irony, which is in tension with much of the standard twentieth-century history of biology, thus exists – Weismann was not a …Read more
  •  339
    Parts and theories in compositional biology
    Biology and Philosophy 21 (4): 471-499. 2006.
    I analyze the importance of parts in the style of biological theorizing that I call compositional biology. I do this by investigating various aspects, including partitioning frames and explanatory accounts, of the theoretical perspectives that fall under and are guided by compositional biology. I ground this general examination in a comparative analysis of three different disciplines with their associated compositional theoretical perspectives: comparative morphology, functional morphology, and …Read more
  •  3422
    Mapping Kinds in GIS and Cartography
    In Catherine Kendig (ed.), Natural Kinds and Classification in Scientific Practice, Routledge. pp. 197-216. forthcoming.
    Geographic Information Science (GIS) is an interdisciplinary science aiming to detect and visually represent patterns in spatial data. GIS is used by businesses to determine where to open new stores and by conservation biologists to identify field study locations with relatively little anthropogenic influence. Products of GIS include topographic and thematic maps of the Earth’s surface, climate maps, and spatially referenced demographic graphs and charts. In addition to its social, political,…Read more
  •  746
    Review of Space, Time, and Number in the Brain (review)
    Mathematical Intelligencer 37 (2): 93-98. 2015.
    Albert Einstein once made the following remark about "the world of our sense experiences": "the fact that it is comprehensible is a miracle." (1936, p. 351) A few decades later, another physicist, Eugene Wigner, wondered about the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences, concluding his classic article thus: "the miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor des…Read more
  •  552
    Systemic Darwinism
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105 (33): 11833-11838. 2008.
  •  1984
    Multiculturalism requires sustained and serious philosophical reflection, which in turn requires public outreach and communication. This piece briefly outlines concerns raised by the philosophy of multiculturalism and, conversely, multiculturalism in philosophy, which ultimately force us to reconsider the philosopher’s own role and responsibility. I conclude with a provocative suggestion of philosophy as /public diplomacy/. (As this is intended to be a piece for a general audience, secondary lit…Read more
  •  1556
    Darwin on Variation and Heredity
    Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3): 425-455. 2000.
    Darwin's ideas on variation, heredity, and development differ significantly from twentieth-century views. First, Darwin held that environmental changes, acting either on the reproductive organs or the body, were necessary to generate variation. Second, heredity was a developmental, not a transmissional, process; variation was a change in the developmental process of change. An analysis of Darwin's elaboration and modification of these two positions from his early notebooks (1836-1844) to the las…Read more
  •  371
    Prediction in selectionist evolutionary theory
    Philosophy of Science 76 (5): 889-901. 2009.
    Selectionist evolutionary theory has often been faulted for not making novel predictions that are surprising, risky, and correct. I argue that it in fact exhibits the theoretical virtue of predictive capacity in addition to two other virtues: explanatory unification and model fitting. Two case studies show the predictive capacity of selectionist evolutionary theory: parallel evolutionary change in E. coli, and the origin of eukaryotic cells through endosymbiosis.
  •  931
    Consciousness Modeled: Reification and Promising Pluralism
    Pensamiento 67 (254): 617-630. 2011.
    Paradoxically, explorers of the territory of consciousness seem to be studying consciousness out of existence, from inside the field of "consciousness studies". How? Through their love of the phenomenon/process, they have developed powerful single models or lenses through which to understand consciousness. But in doing so, they also seek to destroy the other /equally useful/ lenses. Our opportunity lies in halting the vendettas and cross-speakings/cross-fire. The imploration is to stop the dicho…Read more
  •  903
    Varieties of Modules: Kinds, Levels, Origins, and Behaviors
    Journal of Experimental Zoology 291 116-129. 2001.
    This article began as a review of a conference, organized by Gerhard Schlosser, entitled “Modularity in Development and Evolution.” The conference was held at, and sponsored by, the Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg in Delmenhorst, Germany in May, 2000. The article subsequently metamorphosed into a literature and concept review as well as an analysis of the differences in current perspectives on modularity. Consequently, I refer to general aspects of the conference but do not review particular presentat…Read more