1,931 research outputs found

    Science and Values

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    This short paper, written for a wide audience, introduces "science and values" topics as they have arisen in the context of eugenics. The paper especially focuses on the context of 20th century eugenics in western Canada, where eugenic legislation in two provinces was not repealed until the 1970s and thousands of people were sterilized without their consent. A framework for understanding science-value relationships within this context is discussed, and so too is recent relevant work in philosophy of science

    Full Open Population Capture-Recapture Models with Individual Covariates

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    Traditional analyses of capture-recapture data are based on likelihood functions that explicitly integrate out all missing data. We use a complete data likelihood (CDL) to show how a wide range of capture-recapture models can be easily fitted using readily available software JAGS/BUGS even when there are individual-specific time-varying covariates. The models we describe extend those that condition on first capture to include abundance parameters, or parameters related to abundance, such as population size, birth rates or lifetime. The use of a CDL means that any missing data, including uncertain individual covariates, can be included in models without the need for customized likelihood functions. This approach also facilitates modeling processes of demographic interest rather than the complexities caused by non-ignorable missing data. We illustrate using two examples, (i) open population modeling in the presence of a censored time-varying individual covariate in a full robust-design, and (ii) full open population multi-state modeling in the presence of a partially observed categorical variable

    Biological Individuals

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    The impressive variation amongst biological individuals generates many complexities in addressing the simple-sounding question what is a biological individual? A distinction between evolutionary and physiological individuals is useful in thinking about biological individuals, as is attention to the kinds of groups, such as superorganisms and species, that have sometimes been thought of as biological individuals. More fully understanding the conceptual space that biological individuals occupy also involves considering a range of other concepts, such as life, reproduction, and agency. There has been a focus in some recent discussions by both philosophers and biologists on how evolutionary individuals are created and regulated, as well as continuing work on the evolution of individuality

    Species and Other Evolving Lineages as Feedback Systems

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    This paper proposes a new and testable view about the nature of species and other evolving lineages, according to which they are feedback systems. On this view, it is a mistake to think gene flow, niche sharing, and trait frequency similarities between populations are among variables that interact to cause some further downstream variable that distinguishes evolving lineages from each other, some sort of “species cohesion” for example. Instead, gene flow, niche sharing, similarities between populations, and other causal variables feed into each other—instances of these at earlier times help cause instances of these same variables at later times. And any lineage-identifying cohesion just is the recurrence or cycling of these feedback relations within metapopulations over generations. Such cohesion can then be represented as variable M within multi-dimensional variable spaces, where values of M vary dynamically with the frequency and magnitude of feedback relations. Related conditions for being a species or other evolving lineage are then clarified. To argue for the development and testing of this view, the paper shows how it improves upon others


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    This ~4000 word essay introduces topics of essentialism, as they arise in social sciences. It distinguishes empirical (e.g., psychological) from philosophical studies of essentialisms, and both metaphysical and scientific essentialisms within philosophy. Essentialism issues in social science are shown to be more subtle and complex than often presumed

    Classificatory norms in scientific practice: the unobjective but rational *chemical element*.

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    It is often presumed that empirical considerations provide epistemic objectivity for claims about the boundaries and classification of scientific categories. This has seemed especially plausible in chemistry. Focusing on the category chemical element, we describe two 20th century developments that undermine epistemic objectivism about it. But our second thesis is that, in practice, this shortfall is bridged by relying on a little-recognized species of pragmatic norm: classificatory norms. We contend this precludes the objectivity, yet ironically affords the rationality, of related category and classification claims

    Well-being, Disability, and Choosing Children

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    The view that it is better for life to be created free of disability is pervasive in both common sense and philosophy. We cast doubt on this view by focusing on an influential line of thinking that manifests it. That thinking begins with a widely-discussed principle, Procreative Beneficence, and draws conclusions about parental choice and disability. After reconstructing two versions of this argument, we critique the first by exploring the relationship between different understandings of well-being and disability, and the second by more briefly focusing on the idea of a significant reason. By placing these results against the broader historical and ongoing contexts in which the lives of those with disabilities have been deemed of inferior quality, we conclude with a call for greater humility about disability and well-being in thought and practice

    Cohesion, Gene flow, and the Nature of Species

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    A far-reaching and influential view in evolutionary biology claims that species are cohesive units held together by gene flow. Biologists have recognized empirical problems facing this view; after sharpening the expression of the view, we present novel conceptual problems for it. At the heart of these problems is a distinction between two importantly different concepts of cohesion, what we call integrative and response cohesion. Acknowledging the distinction problematizes both the explanandum of species cohesion and the explanans of gene flow that are central to the view we discuss. We conclude by tracing four broader implications for the study and conceptualization of species
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