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Cosmides, Leda, John Tooby. Evolutionary Psychology: A Primer
1997, Center for Evolutionary Psychology.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Patricia Rich

Abstract: The goal of research in evolutionary psychology is to discover and understand the design of the human mind.Evolutionary psychology is an approach to psychology, in which knowledge and principles from evolutionarybiology are put to use in research on the structure of the human mind. It is not an area of study, like vision,reasoning, or social behavior. It is a way of thinking about psychology that can be applied to any topic withinit.In this view, the mind is a set of information-processing machines that were designed by natural selection tosolve adaptive problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. This way of thinking about the brain, mind,and behavior is changing how scientists approach old topics, and opening up new ones. This chapter is aprimer on the concepts and arguments that animate it.

Comment: This is an enjoyable introduction to the influential evolutionary psychology research program. It touches on many issues of longstanding interest to philosophers, such as the roles of nature and nurture and the normativity of abstract reasoning. I have used it in philosophy of biology and philosophy of social science courses. For more advanced students, it can be read together with Elisabeth Lloyd's paper 'Evolutionary Psychology: The Burdens of Proof.'

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Fausto-Sterling, Anne. Sex/Gender: Biology in a Social world
2012, Routledge.
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Added by: Benny Goldberg

Publisher’s Note: Sex/Gender presents a relatively new way to think about how biological difference can be produced over time in response to different environmental and social experiences.

This book gives a clearly written explanation of the biological and cultural underpinnings of gender. Anne Fausto-Sterling provides an introduction to the biochemistry, neurobiology, and social construction of gender with expertise and humor in a style accessible to a wide variety of readers. In addition to the basics, Sex/Gender ponders the moral, ethical, social and political side to this inescapable subject.

Comment: This is a good text for courses in philosophy of science dealing with biology, feminist philosophy (and feminist philosophy of science), as well as courses dealing with issues of sex and gender. While it uses a lot of scientific detail, it is suitable for advanced undergraduates regardless of major.

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Franklin, L. R.. Exploratory Experiments
2005, Philosophy of Science 72(5): 888-899.
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Added by: Nick Novelli

Abstract: Philosophers of experiment have acknowledged that experiments are often more than mere hypothesis-tests, once thought to be an experiment’s exclusive calling. Drawing on examples from contemporary biology, I make an additional amendment to our understanding of experiment by examining the way that `wide’ instrumentation can, for reasons of efficiency, lead scientists away from traditional hypothesis-directed methods of experimentation and towards exploratory methods.

Comment: Good exploration of the role of experiments, challenging the idea that they are solely useful for testing clearly defined hypotheses. Uses many practical examples, but is very concise and clear. Suitable for undergraduate teaching in an examination of scientific methods in a philosophy of science course.

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Mitchell, Sandra. Complexity and explanation in the social sciences
2009, Mitchell, Sandra. "Complexity and explanation in the social sciences." Chrysostomos Mantzavinos (Hg.), Philosophy of the Social Sciences. Philosophical Theory and Scientific Practice, Cambridge (2009): 130-145.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Patricia Rich

Abstract: To answer Condorcet, in this chapter I will investigate what it is about the social world that makes the universal, exceptionless generalizations that are heralded as the foundation of knowledge of the physical world so elusive. I am not going to rehearse all the arguments for and against the possibility of laws in the social realm. What I aim to do is not to take either side of the debate, that is, not to say – “YES! Social science does have laws just like physics (or close enough any-way)” or “NO! Social science can never have laws like those of physics; knowledge of the social has a wholly different character.” Rather I will suggest replacing the standard conception of laws that structure the debate with a more spacious conceptual framework that not only illuminates what it is about knowledge of the social that is similar to knowledge of the physical, but also explains what is so different in the two scientific endeavors.

Comment: When studying the philosophy of the social sciences, the nature of explanation and the role of laws in explanation are important issues. This text provides a valuable argument on this topic, provides an example of how philosophy of biology is relevant to the social sciences, and brings in some other useful philosophical concepts.

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Okruhlik, Kathleen. Gender and the Biological Sciences
1994, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 24(sup1): 21-42.
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Added by: Nick Novelli

Summary: Okhrulik offers a feminist critique of biology, a “real” science, to show that it is not just the “soft” social sciences that are affected by bias. She argues that preconceptions can interfere not only in cases of “bad science”, but even when the rules of scientific practice are followed. There is no safeguard against the effects of bias in the context of discovery. Even if theories are rigorously tested to remove bias, some theories might not even be generated and so would not get to the point of being counted as competitors in the testing stage. This is illustrated by a number of case studies. Okhrulik concludes that a diversity of viewpoints is crucial.

Comment: Presents a good case for why feminist critiques are relevant even to "harder" sciences, made more salient with easy-to-understand examples. Raises issues of theory-ladenness of observation and underdetermination of theory. A good introduction to reasons to doubt that science is completely "objective".

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Richardson, S. Sarah. Sex Itself: The Search for Male and Female in the Human Genome
2013, The University of Chicago Press.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Isela

Publisher’s Note: Human genomes are 99.9 percent identical—with one prominent exception. Instead of a matching pair of X chromosomes, men carry a single X, coupled with a tiny chromosome called the Y. Tracking the emergence of a new and distinctive way of thinking about sex represented by the unalterable, simple, and visually compelling binary of the X and Y chromosomes, Sex Itself examines the interaction between cultural gender norms and genetic theories of sex from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present, postgenomic age.
Using methods from history, philosophy, and gender studies of science, Sarah S. Richardson uncovers how gender has helped to shape the research practices, questions asked, theories and models, and descriptive language used in sex chromosome research. From the earliest theories of chromosomal sex determination, to the mid-century hypothesis of the aggressive XYY supermale, to the debate about Y chromosome degeneration, to the recent claim that male and female genomes are more different than those of humans and chimpanzees, Richardson shows how cultural gender conceptions influence the genetic science of sex.

Richardson shows how sexual science of the past continues to resonate, in ways both subtle and explicit, in contemporary research on the genetics of sex and gender. With the completion of the Human Genome Project, genes and chromosomes are moving to the center of the biology of sex. Sex Itself offers a compelling argument for the importance of ongoing critical dialogue on how cultural conceptions of gender operate within the science of sex.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Schrader-Frechette, Kristin. Individualism, Holism, and Environmental Ethics
1996, Ethics and the Environment, 1 (1): 55-69.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord

Abstract: Neoclassical economists have been telling us for years that if we behave in egoistic, individualistic ways, the invisible hand of the market will guide us to efficient and sustainable futures. Many contemporary Greens also have been assuring us that if we behave in holistic ways, the invisible hand of ecology will guide us to health and sustainable futures. This essay argues that neither individualism nor holism will provide environmental sustainability. There is no invisible hand, either in economics or in ecology. Humans have no guaranteed tenure in the biosphere. Likewise there is no philosophical quick fix for environmental problems, either through the ethical individualism of Feinberg, Frankena, and Regan, or through the ecological holism of Callicott and Leopold. The correct path is more complex and tortuous than either of these ways. The essay argues that the best way to reach a sustainable environmental future probably is through a middle path best described as “hierarchical holism.”.

Comment: This text intervenes in the debate over holism and individualism in environmental ethics--specifically, as it concerns questions of environmental protection and conservation. It would fit well in a course on environmental ethics that discusses questions of either the metaphysics of nature or the nature of value.

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Zuckert, Rachel. Kant on Beauty and Biology: An Interpretation of the ‘Critique of Judgment’
2007, Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Jonas Jervell Indregard

Publisher’s Note: Kant’s Critique of Judgment has often been interpreted by scholars as comprising separate treatments of three uneasily connected topics: beauty, biology, and empirical knowledge. Rachel Zuckert’s book interprets the Critique as a unified argument concerning all three domains. She argues that on Kant’s view, human beings demonstrate a distinctive cognitive ability in appreciating beauty and understanding organic life: an ability to anticipate a whole that we do not completely understand according to preconceived categories. This ability is necessary, moreover, for human beings to gain knowledge of nature in its empirical character as it is, not as we might assume it to be. Her wide-ranging and original study will be valuable for readers in all areas of Kant’s philosophy.

Comment: Perfect for a course on Kant's Third Critique. Covers both of the main parts of that work, namely the critique of aesthetic judgment and the critique of teleological judgment.

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