Thursday, November 3, 2011

selection of articles; History of Philosophy of the Life Sciences is a multilanguage interdisciplinary journal

just a small selection  (from Vol. 33, no. 2 (2011) to Vol. 27, no. 1 (2005))
(in red= star)
Olivier Perru, Le mutualisme biologique, concepts et modèles
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences - Vol. 33, no. 2 (2011)
Mutualism is a biological association for a mutual benefit between two different species. In this paper, firstly, we examine the history and signification of mutualism in relation to symbiosis. Then, we consider the link between concepts and models of mutualism. Models of mutualism depend on different concepts we use: If mutualism is situated at populations’ level, it will be expressed by Lotka-Volterra models, concerning exclusively populations’ size. If mutualism is considered as a resources’ exchange or a biological market increasing the fitness of these organisms, it will be described at an individual level by a cost-benefit model. Our analysis will be limited to the history and epistemology of Lotka-Volterra models and we hypothesize that these models are adapted at first to translate dynamic evolutions of mutualism. They render stability or variations of size and assume that there are clear distinctions and a state of equilibrium between populations of different species. Italian mathematician Vito Volterra demonstrated that biological associations consist in a constant relation between some species. In 1931 and 1935, Volterra described the general form of antagonistic or mutualistic biological associations by the same differential equations. We recognize that these equations have been more used to model competition or prey-predator interactions, but a simple sign change allows describing mutualism. The epistemological problem is the following: Volterra’s equations help us to conceptualize a global phenomenon. However, mutualistic interactions may have stronger effects away from equilibrium and these effects may be better understood at individual level. We conclude that, between 1985 and 2000, some researchers carried on working and converting Lotka-Volterra models but this description appeared as insufficient. So, other researchers adopted an economical viewpoint, considering mutualism as a biological market.

Staffan Müller-Wille, The Dark Side of Evolution: Caprice, Deceit, Redundancy
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences - Vol. 31, no. 2 (2009)
(The prevalent reading of Darwin’s achievements today is adaptationist. Darwin, so the usual story goes, succeeded in providing a naturalistic explanation of the fact that organisms are adapted to their environments, a fact that served and continues to serve, as a chief argument for creationism. This stands in a curious tension with Darwin’s own fascination with phenomena whose adaptive value was problematic, like vicariance, ornaments, atavisms, and rudiments, as well as the various “contraptions” and “contrivances” by which organisms take advantage of each other. I will explore this “dark side” of Darwin’s evolutionism with respect to three themes that run through his work: heredity, which provided one of the corner stones of Darwin’s theory and yet was defined as an essentially capricious, not necessarily adaptive force; mimicry, which for Darwin exemplified a general tendency of nature to produce deceiving semblances that turn actual relations on their head; and extinction, a phenomenon that pointed towards the redundancy of life, which for Darwin, in the double sense of that word, was both a fundamental condition and necessary consequence of evolution by natural selection.)

Winfried Menninghaus, Biology à la mode: Charles Darwin’s Aesthetics of “Ornament”
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences - Vol. 31, no. 2 (2009)
(Historians have long noted the importance of Victorian culture for the emergence of Darwin’s ideas. This paper takes this understanding one step further by illustrating a deep cultural analysis for the underlying aesthetics framework which, on the one hand, is part of Darwin’s notion of sexual selection while, at the same time, serving to give rise to a new “aesthetics semantics.” While evolutionary biology avoids this language, it nevertheless had far-reaching influences in the decades following the publication of Darwin’s work. Additionally, evolutionary aesthetics from Darwin provides unique insights on the philosophical foundations it draws upon)

Anthony S. Travis, Models for Biomedical Research: The Theory and Practice of Paul Ehrlich
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences - Vol. 30, no. 1 (2008)
In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the study of the living world placed considerable reliance on applied chemistry and chemical concepts. Paul Ehrlich, the subject of this paper, adopted from the mid-1870s principles of organic chemistry to devise procedures for use in histology, to suggest features of cellular structure, and to draw up cartoons that explained the nature of immunity. From a distinctly molecular basis, he devised meaningful experimental strategies and was inspired to develop speculative but effective theoretical models along the same lines that chemists had used to resolve problems of molecular structure and behavior. Thus, Ehrlich suggested that combining power and toxicity were independent properties of the antigen toxin. He succeeded to classify synthetic dyestuffs as stains, to use them for investigating molecular combustion, to adapt theories of dyeing to develop models for both combustion and immunity, and to exploit the properties of dyes in the development of chemotherapy. Ehrlich not only speculated on the behavior of synthetic chemicals toward his model of the protoplasm but also invoked biological specificity, a concept that would have a tremendous impact on immunology, drug development, and molecular biology.

 Garcia-Sancho, M, From Metaphor to Practices: the Introduction of "Information Engineers" into the First DNA Sequence Database
HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF THE LIFE SCIENCES  Volume: 33   Issue: 1   Pages: 71-104   Published: 2011
This paper explores the introduction of professional systems engineers and information management practices into the first centralized DNA sequence database, developed at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) during the 1980s. In so doing, it complements the literature on the emergence of an information discourse after World War II and its subsequent influence in biological research. By the careers of the database creators and the computer algorithms they designed, analyzing, from the mid-1960s onwards information in biology gradually shifted from a pervasive metaphor to be embodied in practices and professionals such as those incorporated at the EMBL. I then investigate the reception of these database professionals by the EMBL biological staff, which evolved from initial disregard to necessary collaboration as the relationship between DNA, genes, and proteins turned out to be more complex than expected. The trajectories of the database professionals at the EMBL suggest that the initial subject matter of the historiography of genomics should be the long-standing practices that emerged after World War II and to a large extent originated outside biomedicine and academia. Only after addressing these practices, historians may turn to their further disciplinary assemblage in fields such as bioinformatics or biotechnology.

Maureen A. O’Malley, Exploratory Experimentation and Scientifi c Practice: Metagenomics and the Proteorhodopsin Case
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences - Vol. 29, no. 3 (2007)
Exploratory experimentation and high-throughput molecular biology appear to have considerable affi nity for each other. Included in the latter category is metagenomics, which is the DNA-based study of diverse microbial communities from a vast range of non-laboratory environments. Metagenomics has already made numerous discoveries and these have led to reinterpretations of fundamental concepts of microbial organization, evolution, and ecology. The most outstanding success story of metagenomics to date involves the discovery of a rhodopsin gene, named proteorhodopsin, in marine bacteria that were never suspected to have any photobiological capacities. A discussion of this fi nding and its detailed investigation illuminates the relationship between exploratory experimentation and metagenomics. Specifi cally, the proteorhodopsin story indicates that a dichotomous interpretation of theory-driven and exploratory experimentation is insuffi cient and that an interactive understanding of these two types of experimentation can be usefully supplemented by another category, “natural history experimentation”. Further refl ection on the context of metagenomics suggests the necessity of thinking more historically about exploratory and other forms of experimentation.

Alexander Powell, Maureen A. O’Malley, Staffan Müller-Wille, Jane Calvert, and John Dupré, Disciplinary Baptisms: A Comparison of the Naming Stories of Genetics, Molecular Biology, Genomics, and Systems Biology
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences - Vol. 29, no. 1 (2007)
Understanding how scientific activities use naming stories to achieve disciplinary status is important not only for insight into the past, but for evaluating current claims that new disciplines are emerging. In order to gain a historical understanding of how new disciplines develop in relation to these baptismal narratives, we compare two recently formed disciplines, systems biology and genomics, with two earlier related life sciences, genetics and molecular biology. These four disciplines span the twentieth century, a period in which the processes of disciplinary demarcation fundamentally changed from those characteristic of the nineteenth century. We outline how the establishment of each discipline relies upon an interplay of factors that include paradigmatic achievements, technological innovation, and social formations. Our focus, however, is the baptism stories that give the new discipline a founding narrative and articulate core problems, general approaches and constitutive methods. The highly plastic process of achieving disciplinary identity is further marked by the openness of disciplinary definition, tension between technological possibilities and the ways in which scientific issues are conceived and approached, synthesis of reductive and integrative strategies, and complex social interactions. The importance – albeit highly variable – of naming stories in these four cases indicates the scope for future studies that focus on failed disciplines or competing names. Further attention to disciplinary histories could, we suggest, give us richer insight into scientific development.

Michael-Andreas Esfeld and Bernardino Fantini, Causation in Biomedical Sciences. Introduction
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences - Vol. 27, no. 3-4 (2005)
The aim of this paper is to show that biological kinds can be causally homogeneous, although all biological causes are identical with configurations of physical causes. The paper considers two different strategies to establish that result: the first one relies on two different manners of classification (according to function and according to composition); the other one exploits the idea of biological classifications being rather coarse-grained, whereas physical classifications are fine-grained.

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences - Vol. 27, no. 3-4 (2005)
Michael-Andreas Esfeld and Bernardino Fantini, Causation in Biomedical Sciences. Introduction
Jaegwon Kim, Laws, Causation, and Explanation in the Special Sciences
Michael Sollberger, Commentary on Jaegwon Kim: Laws, Causation, and Explanation in the Special Sciences
Alex Rosenberg, Defending Information-Free Genocentrism
Marc Aurel Hunziker, Commentary on Alex Rosenberg:
Defending Information-Free Genocentrism
Alfredo Morabia, Epidemiological Causality
Giovanni Boniolo, Mirella Libero and Anna Aprile, Causality and Methodology. Notes on Thanatochronological Estimations
Jean Gayon, Chance, Explanation, and Causation in Evolutionary Theory
Marcel Weber, Genes, Causation and Intentionality
Michael Esfeld, The Causal Homogeneity of Biological Kinds
Christian Sachse, Reduction of Biological Properties by Means of Functional Sub-Types
Bernard Baetschi, Diderot, Cabanis and Lamarck on Psycho-Physical Causality
Vincent Lam, Causation and Space-Time
Georg Sparber, Counterfactual Overdetermination vs. the Causal Exclusion Problem
Jens Harbecke, A Realist Approach to Biological Events

History of Philosophy of the Life Sciences is an interdisciplinary journal committed to providing an integrative approach to understanding the life sciences. In specific terms, it welcomes submissions from biologists, historians, philosophers, and scholars in the social study of science that offer broad and interdisciplinary perspectives on the development of biology, especially as these perspectives illuminate both biology’s scientific development and its larger role in society. Submissions which are collaborative and feature different disciplinary approaches are especially encouraged, as are submissions written by senior and junior scholars (including graduate students). HPLS also welcomes submissions featuring novel formats. While it is anticipated most submissions will represent recent scholarship, they may also include essays on contemporary issues or perspectives, results of unique workshops, and/or discussions featuring a wide-range of perspectives. Papers are published on the understanding that they have not been published before and are not concurrently under offer to any other journal. Authors will usually receive a decision on their articles within 3 months of receipt.

The languages of the journal are English, French, German, and Italian; however, other languages can be considered. Book reviews are published only in English.

5-Year Impact Factor (JCR)= 0.6

ISO Abbrev. Title:     Hist. Philos. Life Sci.
ISSN:     0391-9714
Issues/Year:     4 
Language:     MULTI-LANGUAGE
Journal Country/Territory:     ENGLAND
Publisher Address:     VILLA COMMUNALE, NAPOLI 80121, ITALY

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