Philosophy of biology
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2011)|
The philosophy of biology is a subfield of philosophy of science, which deals with epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical issues in the biological and biomedical sciences. Although philosophers of science and philosophers generally have long been interested in biology (e.g., Aristotle, Descartes, and even Kant), philosophy of biology only emerged as an independent field of philosophy in the 1960s and 1970s. Philosophers of science then began paying increasing attention to biology, from the rise of Neodarwinism in the 1930s and 1940s to the discovery of the structure of DNA in 1953 to more recent advances in genetic engineering. Other key ideas include the reduction of all life processes to biochemical reactions, and the incorporation of psychology into a broader neuroscience.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Reductionism, holism, and vitalism
- 3 An autonomous philosophy of biology
- 4 Other perspectives
- 5 Scientific discovery process
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 External links
The philosophy of biology can be seen as following an empirical tradition, favoring naturalism. Many contemporary philosophers of biology have largely avoided traditional questions about the distinction between life and non-life. Instead, they have examined the practices, theories, and concepts of biologists with a view toward better understanding biology as a scientific discipline (or group of scientific fields). Scientific ideas are philosophically analyzed and their consequences are explored. It is sometimes difficult to delineate philosophy of biology as separate from theoretical biology. A few of the questions philosophers of biology have attempted to answer, for example, include:
- "What is a biological species?"
- "How is rationality possible, given our biological origins?"
- "How do organisms coordinate their common behavior?"
- "Are there genome editing agents?"
- "How might our biological understandings of race, sexuality, and gender reflect social values?"
- "What is natural selection, and how does it operate in nature?"
- "How do medical doctors explain disease?"
- "From where do language and logic stem?";
- "How is ecology related to medicine?"
A subset of philosophers of biology with a more explicitly naturalistic orientation hope that biology will provide scientific answers to such fundamental problems of epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, anthropology and even metaphysics. Furthermore, progress in biology urges modern societies to rethink traditional values concerning all aspects of human life. The possibility of genetic modification of human stem cells, for example, has led to an ongoing controversy on how certain biological techniques could infringe upon ethical consensus (see bioethics). Some of the questions addressed by these philosophers of biology include:
- "What is life?"
- "What makes humans uniquely human?";
- "What is the basis of moral thinking?";
- "What are the factors we use for aesthetic judgments?";
- "Is evolution compatible with Christianity or other religious systems?"
Increasingly, ideas drawn from philosophical ontology and logic are being used by biologists in the domain of bioinformatics. Ontologies such as the Gene Ontology are being used to annotate the results of biological experiments in a variety of model organisms in order to create logically tractable bodies of data available for reasoning and search. The Gene Ontology itself is a species-neutral graph-theoretical representation of biological types joined together by formally defined relations.
Philosophy of biology today has become a very visible, well-organized discipline - with its own journals, conferences, and professional organizations. The largest of the latter is the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB); the name of the Society reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the field.
Reductionism, holism, and vitalism
One subject within philosophy of biology deals with the relationship between reductionism and holism, contending views with epistemological and methodological significance, but also with ethical and metaphysical connotations.
- Scientific reductionism is the view that higher-level biological processes reduce to physical and chemical processes. For example, the biological process of respiration is explained as a biochemical process involving oxygen and carbon dioxide.
- Holism is the view that emphasizes higher-level processes, also called emergent properties: phenomena at a larger level that occur due to the pattern of interactions between the elements of a system over time. For example, to explain why one species of finch survives a drought while others die out, the holistic method looks at the entire ecosystem. Reducing an ecosystem to its parts in this case would be less effective at explaining overall behavior (in this case, the decrease in biodiversity). As individual organisms must be understood in the context of their ecosystems, holists argue, so must lower-level biological processes be understood in the broader context of the living organism in which they take part. Proponents of this view cite our growing understanding of the multidirectional and multilayered nature of gene modulation (including epigenetic changes) as an area where a reductionist view is inadequate for full explanatory power. See also Holism in science.
- Vitalism is the view, rejected by mainstream biologists since the 19th century, that there is a life-force (called the "vis viva") that has thus far been unmeasurable scientifically that gives living organisms their "life." Vitalists often claimed that the vis viva acts with purposes according to its pre-established "form" (see teleology). Examples of vitalist philosophy are found in many religions. Mainstream biologists reject vitalism on the grounds that it opposes the scientific method. The scientific method was designed as a methodology to build an extremely reliable understanding of the world, that is, a supportable, evidenced understanding. Following this epistemological view, mainstream scientists reject phenomena that have not been scientifically measured or verified, and thus reject vitalism.
Some philosophers of biology have attempted to explain the rise and fall of reductionism, vitalism, and holism throughout the history of biology. For example, these philosophers claim that the ideas of Charles Darwin ended the last remainders of teleological views from biology. Debates in these areas of philosophy of biology turn on how one views reductionism.
An autonomous philosophy of biology
All processes in organisms obey physical laws, the difference from inanimate processes lying in their organisation and their being subject to control by coded information. This has led some biologists and philosophers (for example, Ernst Mayr and David Hull) to return to the strictly philosophical reflections of Charles Darwin to resolve some of the problems which confronted them when they tried to employ a philosophy of science derived from classical physics. This latter, positivist approach emphasised a strict determinism (as opposed to high probability) and to the discovery of universally applicable laws, testable in the course of experiment. It was difficult for biology, beyond a basic microbiological level, to live up to these structures. Standard philosophy of science seemed to leave out a lot of what characterised living organisms - namely, a historical component in the form of an inherited genotype.
Biologists with philosophic interests responded, emphasising the dual nature of the living organism. On the one hand there was the genetic programme (represented in nucleic acids) - the genotype. On the other there was its extended body or soma - the phenotype. In accommodating the more probabilistic and non-universal nature of biological generalisations, it was a help that standard philosophy of science was in the process of accommodating similar aspects of 20th century physics.
This led to a distinction between proximate causes and explanations - "how" questions dealing with the phenotype; and ultimate causes - "why" questions, including evolutionary causes, focused on the genotype. This clarification was part of the great reconciliation, by Ernst Mayr, among others, in the 1940s, between Darwinian evolution by natural selection and the genetic model of inheritance. A commitment to conceptual clarification has characterised many of these philosophers since. Trivially, this has reminded us of the scientific basis of all biology, while noting its diversity - from microbiology to ecology. A complete philosophy of biology would need to accommodate all these activities. Less trivially, it has unpacked the notion of "teleology". Since 1859, scientists have had no need for a notion of cosmic teleology - a programme or a law that can explain and predict evolution. Darwin provided that. But teleological explanations (relating to purpose or function) have remained stubbornly useful in biology - from the structural configuration of macromolecules to the study of co-operation in social systems. By clarifying and restricting the use of the term to describe and explain systems controlled strictly scientifically by genetic programmes, or other physical systems, teleological questions can be framed and investigated while remaining committed to the physical nature of all underlying organic processes.
Similar attention has been given to the concepts of natural selection (what is the target of natural selection? - the individual? the environment? the genome? the species?); adaptation; diversity and classification; species and speciation; and macroevolution.
Just as biology has developed as an autonomous discipline in full conversation with the other sciences, there is a great deal of work now being carried on by biologists and philosophers to develop a dedicated philosophy of biological science which, while in full conversation with all other philosophic disciplines, attempts to give answers to the real questions raised by scientific investigations in biology.
Another autonomous philosophy of biology is represented by Guenther Witzany and his theory of biocommunication: Living nature is structured and organized by language and communication within and among cells, tissues, organs and organisms. This means that besides human language and communication every living entity is competent to use signs with which it can differentiate between self and non-self. The communicative competence serves for coordination of group behavior (tissues, organs, organisms). Biocommunication research is applied to all organismic kingdoms based on empirical data. Additionally the biocommunication method investigates nucleotide sequences as natural code which is structured according combinatorial, context-sensitive and content-specific rules. Natural genome editing from a biocommunicative perspective consequently is investigated as competent agent-driven generation and integration of meaningful nucleotide sequences into pre-existing genomic content arrangements of host organisms. Such natural genome editing agents can (re)combine and (re)regulate host genome content according to context-dependent (i.e. adaptational) purposes. Such active agent-driven processes contradict passive error replication (mutation) narratives to explain emergence of genetic diversity.
While the overwhelming majority of English-speaking scholars operating under the banner of "philosophy of biology" work within the Anglo-American tradition of analytical philosophy, there is a stream of philosophic work in continental philosophy which seeks to deal with issues deriving from biological science. The communication difficulties involved between these two traditions are well known, not helped by differences in language. Gerhard Vollmer is often thought of as a bridge but, despite his education and residence in Germany, he largely works in the Anglo-American tradition, particularly pragmatism, and is famous for his development of Lorenz's and Quine's idea of evolutionary epistemology. On the other hand, one scholar who has attempted to give a more continental account of the philosophy of biology is Hans Jonas. His "The Phenomenon of Life" (New York, 1966) sets out boldly to offer an "existential interpretation of biological facts", starting with the organism's response to stimulus and ending with man confronting the Universe, and drawing upon a detailed reading of phenomenology. This is unlikely to have much influence on mainstream philosophy of biology, but indicates, as does Vollmer's work, the current powerful influence of biological thought on philosophy. A more engaging account is given by the late Virginia Tech philosopher Marjorie Grene.
Scientific discovery process
Research in biology continues to be less guided by theory than it is in other sciences. This is especially the case in the context of life sciences, where the availability of high throughput screening techniques for the different omics fields and the perceived complexity, makes the science predominantly data driven. This data-intensive scientific discovery is by some considered to be the fourth paradigm, after empiricism, theory and computer simulation. Others reject the idea that data driven research is about to replace theory. As Krakauer et al. put it: "machine learning is a powerful means of preprocessing data in preparation for mechanistic theory building, but should not be considered the final goal of a scientific inquiry." In regard to cancer biology, Raspe et al. state: "A better understanding of tumor biology is fundamental for extracting the relevant information from any high throughput data." The journal Science chose cancer immunotherapy as the breakthrough of 2013. According to their explanation a lesson to be learned from the successes of cancer immunotherapy is that they emerged from decoding of basic biology. 
Theory in biology is less strict formalized as it is in physics. Besides 1) the classic physics way of mathematical-analytical, there is 2) statistical based, 3) computer simulation and 4) conceptual/verbal theorizing/modeling. Dougherty and Bittner state that in order for biology to progress as a science, it has to move to more rigorous mathematical modeling, or otherwise risk to be "empty talk".
In tumor biology research, the characterization of cellular signaling processes has largely focused on identifying the function of individual genes and proteins. Janes  showed however the context-dependent nature of signaling driving cell decisions demonstrating the need for a more system based approach. The lack of attention for context dependency in preclinical research is also illustrated by the observation that preclinical testing rarely includes predictive biomarkers that, when advanced to clinical trials, will help to distinguish those patients who are likely to benefit from a drug.
Notable philosophers of biology
- John Beatty
- Richard Boyd
- Lindley Darden
- Daniel Dennett
- John Dupré
- Carla Fehr
- Marjorie Grene
- Peter Godfrey-Smith
- James R. Griesemer
- Paul E. Griffiths
- David Hull
- Philip Stuart Kitcher
- Tim Lewens
- Helen Longino
- Jane Maienschein
- Roberta Millstein
- Sandra Mitchell
- Susan Oyama
- Karl R. Popper
- Alex Rosenberg
- Michael Ruse
- Sahotra Sarkar
- Kristin Shrader-Frechette
- Elliott Sober
- Kim Sterelny
- Alfred I. Tauber
- Gerard Verschuuren
- William C. Wimsatt
Biologists with an interest in the philosophical aspects of biology
- Maturana, H. R., & Varela, F. J. (1980). Autopoiesis and cognition: The realization of the living (No. 42). Springer Science & Business Media.
- Talbott, Stephen L. "Getting Over the Code Delusion". The New Atlantis.
- Witzany, G (2010). Biocommunication and Natural Genome Editing. Dordrecht, Springer Science.
- Vienna series in theoretical biology
- Hey,T (ed) 2009 The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery
- Callebout, W. (2012). "Scientific perspectivism: A philosopher of science’s response to the challenge of big data biology". Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. Elsevier
- Dougherty, E.R. (2008) "On the Epistemological Crisis in Genomics" Current Genomics, 9, 69-79
- Krakauer, et al. (2011) "The challenges and scope of theoretical biology" Journal of Theoretical Biology 276 (2011) 269–276
- Raspe et al. (2012) "Gene expression profiling to dissect the complexity of cancer biology: Pitfalls and promise"Seminars in Cancer Biology 22 250– 260
- Couzin-Frankel, J. (2013) "Cancer Immunotherapy" Science 20 December 2013: Vol. 342 no. 6165 pp. 1432-1433
- Pigliucci,M. (2012) "On the Different Ways of 'Doing Theory' in Biology". Biological Theory. Springer.
- Dougherty, E.R. & Bittner, M.L. (2012) Epistemology of the Cell: A Systems Perspective on Biological Knowledge. Wiley-IEEE Press, p. 149 ISBN 978-1-1180-2779-0
- Janes (2005). "A Systems Model of Signaling Identifies a Molecular Basis Set for Cytokine-Induced Apoptosis". Science.
- Creixell, P. et al. (2012) "Navigating cancer network attractors for tumorspecific therapy". Nature biotechnology.
- Begley, C. (2012) Drug development: Raise standards for preclinical cancer research. Nature.
- Amundson, R., 2005, The Changing Role of the Embryo in Evolutionary Thought, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
- Ayala, F. & Arp, R. (eds.), 2009, Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Biology, Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell.
- Barberousse, A., Morange, M. & Pradeu, T. (2009), Mapping the Future of Biology. Evolving Concepts and Theories, Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science, 266, Dordrecht, Springer.
- Bechtel, W., 2005, Discovering Cell Mechanisms, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
- Bedau, M. & Humphreys, P., 2008, Emergence: Contemporary Readings in Philosophy and Science, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press.
- Brandon, R., 1988, "The Levels of Selection: A Hierarchy of Interactors", in H. Plotkin, ed., The Role of Behavior in Evolution, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, p. 51-71.
- Brandon, R., 1990, Adaptation and environment, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
- Brandon, R. & Burian, R. (eds), 1984, Genes, Organisms and Populations. Controversies Over the Units of Selection, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press.
- Burian, R., 1983, "Adaptation", in M. Greene, ed., Dimensions of Darwinism, New York & Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, p. 287-314.
- Bunge, M., & Mahner, M., 1997, Foundations of Biophilosophy, Berlín, Springer
- Buss, L., 1987, The Evolution of Individuality, Princeton, Princeton University Press.
- Byron, J. M., 2007, "Whence Philosophy of Biology ?", British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 58(3), p. 409-422.
- Craver, C., 2007, Explaining the Brain : Mechanisms and the Mosaic Unity of Neuroscience, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
- Cummins, R., 1975, "Functional Analysis", The Journal of Philosophy, 72, p. 741-764.
- Darwin, C., 1859, The Origin of Species, Paris, GF, 1992.
- Dassow (von), G. & Munro, E., 1999, "Modularity in Animal Development and Evolution: Elements of a Conceptual Framework for EvoDevo", Journal of Experimental Zoology B (Mol Dev Evol), 285, p. 307-325.
- Dawkins, R., 1976, The Selfish Gene, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
- Dawkins, R., 1982, The Extended Phenotype, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
- Dawkins, R., 1986, The Blind Watchmaker, New York, Norton.
- Dennett, D., 1995, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, New York, Simon and Schuster.
- Dupré J., 2005, Darwin's Legacy: What Evolution Means Today. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Dupré J., 2002, Humans and Other Animals. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Dupré J., 1995, The Disorder of Things: Metaphysical Foundations of the Disunity of Science. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Eldredge, N., 1984, "Large-scale biological entities and the evolutionary process", Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1984, vol. 2, p. 551-566.
- Falk, R., 2000, "The gene : A concept in tension", in Beurton, P., Falk, R. & Rheinberger, H-J. (eds.), The Concept of the Gene in Development and Evolution. Historical and Epistemological Perspectives, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, p. 317-348.
- Fisher, R.A., 1930, The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection, Oxford, Clarendon Press.
- Francis, R., 2003, Why Men Won't Ask for Directions: The Seductions of Sociobiology, Princeton, Princeton University Press.
- Gayon, J., 1998, Darwinism's Struggle for Survival : Heredity and the Hypothesis of Natural Selection. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Ghiselin, M., 1974, "A Radical Solution to the Species Problem", Systematic Zoology, 23, p. 536-44.
- Gilbert, S.F., 2001, "Ecological developmental biology : developmental biology meets the real world", Developmental Biology, 233, p. 1-12.
- Gilbert, S.F., 2002, "The genome in its ecological context", Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 981, p. 202-218.
- Gilbert, S.F. & Epel, D., 2009, Ecological Developmental Biology, Sunderland, MA, Sinauer Associates, Inc. Publishers.
- Gilbert, S.F., Opitz, J.M. & Raff, R. A., 1996, "Resynthesizing Evolutionary and Developmental Biology", Developmental Biology, 173, p. 357-372.
- Godfrey-Smith, P., 1993, "Functions : Consensus without unity", Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 74, p. 196-208.
- Godfrey-Smith, P., 2000, "The Replicator in Retrospect", Biology and Philosophy, 15, p. 403-423.
- Godfrey-Smith, P., 2001, "Three kinds of adaptationism", in Orzack, S. & Sober, E., eds., 2001, Adaptationism and Optimality, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
- Godfrey-Smith, P., 2004, "Genes do not Encode Information for Phenotypic Traits", in Hitchcock, C., ed., Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science, Malden, Blackwell, p. 275-289.
- Godfrey-Smith, P., 2006, "The strategy of model-based science", Biology and Philosophy, 21, p. 725–740.
- Godfrey-Smith, P., 2007, "Conditions for evolution by natural selection", The Journal of Philosophy, 104, p. 489-516.
- Godfrey-Smith, P., 2008, "Varieties of Population Structure and the Levels of Selection", British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 59, p. 25-50.
- Godfrey-Smith, P., 2009, Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
- Godfrey-Smith, P. & Sterelny, K., 2007, "Biological Information", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online).
- Gould, S. J., 1977, Ontogeny and Phylogeny, Cambridge, MA, Belknap Press.
- Gould, S. J., 1980, The Panda's Thumb, New York, Norton.
- Gould, S. J., 2002, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press..
- Gould, S. J. & Lewontin, R., 1979, "The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm : A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme", Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 205, p. 581-98.
- Gould, S. J. & Lloyd, E., 1999, "Individuality and adaptation across levels of selection: How shall we name and generalize the unit of Darwinism?", PNAS USA 96(21), p. 11904-11909.
- Grafen, A. & Ridley, M. (eds.), 2006, Richard Dawkins: how a scientist changed the way we think, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
- Griffiths, P., 2001, "Genetic Information: A Metaphor In Search of a Theory", Philosophy of Science, 68(3), p. 394-412.
- Griffiths, P., 2006, "Function, Homology and Character Individuation", Philosophy of Science, 73(1), p. 1-25.
- Griffiths, P., 2007, "The Phenomena of Homology", Biology and Philosophy, 22(5), p. 643-658.
- Griffiths, P. & Gray, R., 1994, "Developmental Systems and Evolutionary Explanation", Journal of Philosophy, 91, p. 277-304.
- Griffiths, P. & Gray, R., 2004, "The Developmental Systems Perspective : Organism-environment systems as units of development and evolution", in Pigliucci, M. & Preston, K. (eds.), Phenotypic Integration: Studying the Ecology and Evolution of Complex Phenotypes, Oxford & New York, Oxford University Press, p. 409-430.
- Griffiths, P. & Stotz, K., 2007, "Gene", in Hull, D. & Ruse, M. (eds.)
- Hall, B. K., 1992, Evolutionary Developmental Biology, New York, Chapman and Hall.
- Hamburger, V., 1980, "Embryology and the Modern Synthesis in Evolutionary Theory", in Mayr, E. & Provine, W. B, eds., p. 97-112.
- Hempel, C. G. (1965), Aspects of Scientific Explanation, New York, The Free Press.
- Hull, D., 1969, "What philosophy of biology is not", Journal of the History of Biology, 2(1), p. 241-268.
- Hull, D., 1974, Philosophy of Biological Science, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall.
- Hull, D., 1976, "Are Species Really Individuals ?", Systematic Zoology, 25, p. 174-191.
- Hull, D., 1977, "A Logical Empiricist Looks at Biology", The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 28(2), p. 181-189.
- Hull, D., 1978, "A Matter of Individuality", Philosophy of Science, 45, p. 335-60.
- Hull, D., 1980, "Individuality and Selection", Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 11, p. 11-332.
- Hull, D., 1981, "Units of Evolution : A Metaphysical Essay", in Jensen, U.J. & Harré, R. eds., The Philosophy of Evolution, Brighton, England, The Harvester Press, p. 23-44.
- Hull, D., 1986, "On Human Nature", Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association, ii, p. 3-13.
- Hull, D., 1988, Science as a Process : An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science, Chicago, Chicago University Press.
- Hull, D., 1989a, The Metaphysics of Evolution, Albany, State University of New York Press.
- Hull, D., 1989b, "A Function for Actual Examples in Philosophy of Science", in Ruse, M. (ed.) What the Philosophy of Biology Is : Essays dedicated to David Hull, Dordrecht, Holland, Kluwer Academic Publishing, p. 313-324.
- Hull, D., 2002, "Recent philosophy of biology : A review", Acta Biotheoretica, 50, 117-128.
- Hull, D. & Ruse, M., eds., 1998, The Philosophy of Biology, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
- Hull, D. & Ruse, M., eds., 2007, The Cambridge Companion to the Philosophy of Biology, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
- Jacob, F., 1970, La Logique du vivant. Une histoire de l'hérédité, Paris, Gallimard.
- Kauffman, S., 1993, The Origins of Order : Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
- Kimura, M., 1983, The Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
- Kitcher, P. S., "1953 and all That. A Tale of Two Sciences", Philosophy of Science, 93(3), p. 335-373.
- Kitcher, P. S., 1993, "Function and Design", Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 18(1), p. 379-397.
- Krohs, U. & Kroes, P. (eds.) 2009, Functions in biological and artificial worlds. Comparative philosophical perspectives. Cambridge, MA & London/UK, MIT Press.
- Laubichler, M., 2007, "Evolutionary Developmental Biology", in Hull, D. & Ruse, M. (eds.), p. 342-360.
- Laubichler, M. & Maienschein, J., 2007, From Embryology to Evo-Devo, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press.
- Laland, K., Odling-Smee, J. & Gilbert, S. F., 2008, "EvoDevo and Niche Construction: Building Bridges", Journal of Experimental Zoology (Mol Dev Evol), 310(B), p. 1-18.
- Levins, R. & Lewontin, R., 1985, The Dialectical Biologist, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.
- Lewens, T., 2007, "Adaptation", in D. Hull and M. Ruse (eds.), p. 1-21.
- Lewens, T., 2009, "Seven kinds of adaptationism", Biology and Philosophy 24(2), p. 161-182.
- Lewontin, R., 1970, "Units of selection", Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 1, p. 1-18.
- Lewontin, R., 1978, "Adaptation", Scientific American, 239(9), p. 156-169.
- Lewontin, R., 1983, "The Organism as the Subject and Object of Evolution", Scientia, 118, p. 63-82.
- Lewontin, R., 2000, The Triple Helix, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.
- Lloyd, E., 1993, The Structure and Confirmation of Evolutionary Theory, Princeton University Press, 1ère éd. 1988.
- Lloyd, E., 2005, "Why the Gene will not return", Philosophy of Science, 72, p. 287-310.
- Lloyd, E., 2007, "Units and Levels of Selection", in Hull, D. & Ruse, M. (eds.), p. 44-65.
- Machamer, P., Darden, L., Craver, C., 2000, "Thinking about mechanisms", Philosophy of Science, 67(1), p. 1-25.
- Maynard-Smith, J., 1969, "The status of neo-Darwinism", in Waddington, C. H., ed. Towards a Theoretical Biology, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press.
- Maynard-Smith, J., 1976, "Group Selection", Quarterly Review of Biology, 51, p. 277-283.
- Maynard-Smith, J., 1987, "How to model evolution", in Dupré, J., ed., The Latest on the Best: Essays on Evolution and Optimality, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, p. 119-131.
- Maynard Smith, J., 2000, "The Concept of Information in Biology", Philosophy of Science, 67, p. 177-194.
- Maynard-Smith, J. & Szathmary, E., 1995, The Major Transitions in Evolution, Oxford & New York, W. H. Freeman Spektrum.
- Mayr, E., 1961, "Cause and effect in biology", Science, 134, p. 1501-1506.
- Mayr, E., 1963, Animal Species and Evolution, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.
- Mayr, E., 1982, The Growth of Biological Thought, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.
- Mayr, E., 2004, What Makes Biology Unique?, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
- Mayr, E. & Provine, W. B., eds., 1980, The Evolutionary Synthesis, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.
- Michod, R., 1999, Darwinian Dynamics: Evolutionary Transitions in Fitness and Individuality, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press.
- Mills, S. & Beatty, J., 1979, "The propensity interpretation of fitness", Philosophy of Science, 46, p. 263–286.
- Monod, J., 1970, Le Hasard et la nécessité, Paris, Seuil.
- Morange, M., 1998 (1994), A History of Molecular Biology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Morange, M., 2009, "Articulating Different Modes of Explanation : The Present Boundary in Biological Research", in Barberousse, A., Morange, M. & Pradeu, T. (eds.)
- Müller, G.B., 2007, "Evo-devo : extending the evolutionary synthesis", Nature Reviews Genetics, 8, p. 943-949.
- Nagel, E., 1961, The Structure of Science, New York, Harcourt Brace.
- Neander, K., 1991, "The Teleological Notion of Function", Australian Journal of Philosophy, 69, p. 454-468.
- Odling-Smee, J., Laland, K. & Feldman, M., 2003, Niche Construction. The Neglected Process in Evolution, Princeton, Princeton University Press.
- Okasha, S., 2006, Evolution and the Levels of Selection, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
- Oyama, S., 2000, The Ontogeny of Information, Durham, N.C., Duke University Press, 1ère éd. 1985.
- Oyama, S., Griffiths, P. & Gray, R., eds., 2001, Cycles of Contingency, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press.
- Raff, R. A. & Raff, E. C., eds., 1987, Development as an Evolutionary Process, New York, Alan R. Liss. Inc.
- Raff, R., 1996, The Shape of Life: Genes, Development and the Evolution of Animal Form, Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
- Reeve, H. K. & Sherman, P. W., 1993, "Adaptation and the goals of evolutionary research", Quarterly Review of Biology, 68, p. 1-32.
- Rosenberg, A., 1985, The Structure of Biological Science, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
- Rosenberg, A., 1997, "Reductionism Redux : Computing the Embryo", Biology and Philosophy, 12, p. 445-470.
- Rosenberg, A., 2007, "Reductionism (and Antireductionism) in Biology", in Hull, D. & Ruse, M. (eds.), p. 120-138.
- Rosenberg, A. & McShea, D. W., 2008, Philosophy of Biology. A Contemporary Introduction, New York, Routledge.
- Ruse, M., 1971, "Reduction, Replacement, and Molecular Biology", Dialectica, 25, p. 38-72.
- Ruse, M., 1973, The Philosophy of Biology, London, Hutchinson University Press.
- Sarkar, S., 1996, "Decoding 'Coding' — Information and DNA", BioScience, 46, p. 857-864.
- Sarkar, S., 2004, "Genes encode information for phenotypic traits", in Hitchcock, C. (ed.) Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science, Malden, Blackwell, pp. 259–274.
- Sarkar, S., 2005, Molecular models of life: philosophical papers on molecular biology. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press.
- Sattler, R., 1986, Biophilosophy: Analytic and holjstic perspectives, Heidelberg/New York, Springer.
- Schaffner, K., 1967, "Approaches to reduction", Philosophy of Science, 34, p. 137-147.
- Smart, J. J. C., 1963, Philosophy and Scientific Realism, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, & New York, Humanities Press.
- Sober, E., 1984, The Nature of selection. Evolutionary Theory in Philosophical Focus, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 2nd ed., Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1993.
- Sober, E., 1993, Philosophy of biology, Boulder, Westview Press, 2nd ed., 2000.
- Sober, E., 1994, From a Biological Point of View – Essays in Evolutionary Philosophy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
- Sober, E., 2008, Evidence and Evolution : The Logic Behind the Science, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
- Sober, E. (ed.), Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 1984, 1994, 2006.
- Sterelny, K., 1995, "Understanding Life : Recent Work in Philosophy of Biology", The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 46(2), p. 155-183.
- Sterelny, K., 2001, "Niche construction, developmental systems, and the extended replicator", in Oyama, S., Griffiths, P. E. & Gray, R. D., eds., Cycles of Contingency. Developmental Systems and Evolution, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press.
- Sterelny, K. & Griffiths, P., 1999, "Sex and Death. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Biology", Chicago, Chicago University Press.
- Sterelny, K. & Kitcher, P., 1988, "The Return of The Gene", The Journal of Philosophy, 85, p. 339-60.
- von Sydow, M., 2012, "From Darwinian Metaphysics towards Understanding the Evolution of Evolutionary Mechanisms." A Historical and Philosophical Analysis of Gene-Darwinism and Universal Darwinism. Universitätsverlag Göttingen. (online)
- von Sydow, M., 2014, "‘Survival of the Fittest’ in Darwinian Metaphysics - Tautology or Testable Theory? (pp. 199-222) In E. Voigts, B. Schaff &M. Pietrzak-Franger (Eds.). Reflecting on Darwin. Farnham, London: Ashgate.
- Waddington, C. H., 1940, Organisers and Genes, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
- Waters, C. K., 1990, "Why the Antireductionist Consensus Won't Survive the Case of Classical Mendelian Genetics", in Fine, A., Forbes, M. & Wessells, L. (eds.), Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, vol. 1 : Contributed Papers, p. 125-139.
- Waters, C. K., 2007, "Molecular Genetics", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online).
- West-Eberhard, M. J., 2003, Phenotypic Plasticity and Evolution, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
- Williams, G. C., 1966, Adaptation and Natural Selection, Princeton, Princeton University Press.
- Williams, G. C., 1992, Natural Selection: Domains, Levels, and Challenges, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
- Williams, M. B., 1970, "Deducing the consequences of evolution : A mathematical model", Journal of Theoretical Biology, 29, p. 343-385.
- Williams, M. B., 1981, "Similarities and differences between evolutionary theory and the theories of physics", Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association (1980), Volume Two: Symposia and Invited Papers, p. 385-396.
- Wilson, E. O., 1975, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, Cambridge, Belknap Press.
- Wilson, E. O., 1978, On Human Nature, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.
- Wimsatt, W., 2007, Re-Engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.
- Witzany, G., 2010, Biocommunication and Natural Genome Editing. Dordrecht, Springer.
- Wright, L., 1973, "Functions", Philosophical Review, 82(2), p. 139-168.
- Wright, S., 1980, "Genic and organismic evolution", Evolution, 34, p. 825-843.
- Philosophy of Biology entry by Paul Griffiths in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Roberta Millstein's compilation of History and Philosophy of Biology Resources