I trace the connection between parsimony vs. likelihood, taxonomic congruence vs. simultaneous analysis, and concatenation vs. coalescence debates, via the principle of total evidence.
Models and Simulations 8, University of South Carolina, 15-17 March 2018
Northwestern Philosophy Conference, Washington State University, 5-7 October 2017
I explicate the claim that one family of computational models in contemporary studies of biodiversity (concatenation) constitutes a special case of a more general set of models (coalescence). I clarify Edwards et al.'s (2016) claims that phylogenetics is a "special case" of population genetics. By comparison with earlier debates and mathematical reductions, I show that (pace Edwards) the concatenation vs. coalescence disputes reflect competing paradigms. The debate turns on competing interpretations of "first principles".
International Congress of History of Science and Technology, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, 23-29 July 2017
International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology, Federal University of Sao Paulo, 16-21 July 2017 (NSF supported)
Species in the Age of Discordance, University of Utah, 23-25 March 2017 (NSF supported)
I analyze analogies of the units of genetics to the units of chemistry, focusing on William Bateson. Bateson did not intend an empirical claim about the nature of characters, genes, or species, but rather a theoretical claim that he hoped would advance the science of genetics. I also demonstrate that Bateson thought that species were not regarded as fixed entities until the eighteenth century, and that the fixation of species was an important scientific advance. Bateson expected his readers to understand his analogies in light of this historical background.
Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Science meeting, 26-28 May 2018
Interpretation of Edwards et al.'s claims about the relationships between theories/models.
The Multi-Species Coalescent. Widely used to infer relationships between species, and increasingly (but problematically) for species delimitation.
Black Rat Snake, Pantherophis obsoleta, in shed. The number of species in this complex is contested.
Bateson's work on variation and the relationship between genetics and development.
Bartlett & Quinn, in progress
With Ben Bartlett (Dept. of Physics, Stanford): Brandon's arguments that genetic drift constitutes the inertial state for evolutionary biology are faulty. Applying Brandon's criteria, drift constitutes an evolutionary force.
2017 Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 64: 65-74.
I analyze Whewell's attempts to impose order on classificatory mineralogy, in Whewell's day (1794-1866) a confused science of uncertain prospects. By comparison with biological classification, Whewell proposed methodological reforms that he claimed would lead to a natural classification of minerals, which in turn would support advances in causal understanding of the properties of minerals. Whewell's comparison to successful biological classification is particularly striking given that classificatory biologists did not share an understanding of the causal structure underlying the natural classification of life (the common descent with modification of all organisms).
American Institute of Physics Biennial Early-Career Conference, Annapolis, 6-10 April 2016
2017 Biology and Philosophy 32(4): 581-598.
This paper clarifies substantial confusion in use of the term "cladist" by biologists and philosophers. Resolving this confusion reveals what is at stake in ongoing debates between proponents of distinct mathematical models for studying biodiversity.
Forthcoming in With Animals (Natalie Porter & Ilana Gershon, eds.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press
A sociological essay on scientists who study biodiversity, written as a [fictional] letter to an aspiring biologist. The volume explores human/animal interactions from multi-disciplinary perspectives.
2016 de Ethica 3(2): 5-21
Market forces have driven commercialized biomedical research to a structure that cannot take responsible account of scientific and social values.
Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Science, Brock University, 24-26 May 2014
Long Island Philosophical Society, Molloy College, 26 April 2014
APA Pacific, San Diego, 15-18 April 2014
2016 Journal of the History of Biology 10.1007/s10739-016-9447-6
What did pre-Darwinian biologists think they were doing when they made claims about species and relationships between species? And how did they get anything right? Girard argued for three distinct forms of natural relationship, which compelled him to represent biodiversity via diagrams intended to be read in three dimensions.
Biological Sciences Seminar Series, University of Idaho, 12 January 2018
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Seminar, University of California at Santa Barbara, TBD
Burke Museum of Natural History, TBD
Vertebrate Zoology Seminar, National Museum of Natural History, 24 August 2016
International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology, Université du Québec à Montréal, 5-10 July 2015
2016 Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 59: 11-19
Whewell developed a theory of historical inference: how to make and defend scientific claims about what happened in the past. Following Darwin's publication, biological inference changed in some of the ways that Whewell analyzed. Karl Gegenbaur reasoned about the construction of organisms in much the same way that Whewell reasoned about the historical development of Gothic architecture.
The Making of the Humanities V, Johns Hopkins University, 5-7 October 2016
History of Science Society, Chicago, 6-9 November 2014
2016 Synthese 193(9): 3025-39.
Biologists who study biodiversity have devised a formal structure of inference that answers the bad lot objection to abductive inference. Modern computational approaches to biodiversity provide methodological solutions to this philosophical challenge.
Helgen, K.M., C.M. Pinto, R. Kays, L.E. Helgen, M.T.N. Tsuchiya, A. Quinn, D.E. Wilson, & J.E. Maldonado. 2013. Zookeys 324: 1-83.
We used morphological, genetic, and bioegeographic analyses to review the genus Bassaricyon. We discovered the first new species of Carnivore in the Western hemisphere in 35 years. The Olinguito was named one of the Top 10 New Species of the year by the International Institute for Species Exploration, and our paper is currently the all-time most downloaded paper in the journal.
2015 Dissertation, History & Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh. James Lennox (HPS), Director. Sandra Mitchell (HPS), Kenneth Schaffner (HPS, Psychology, & Psychiatry), and Jeffrey Schwartz (Anthropology & HPS).
I critique the view that scientists use causal theories to hypothesize what past chains of events must have been, and then form hypotheses that identify segments of a network of events and causal transactions between events. Twentieth century philosophers of science tacitly adopted this assumption in otherwise distinct models of explanation. As Whewell pointed out in his critique of J.S. Mill, the problem with this assumption is that the delineation of events via properties is itself the hard part of science. Whewell’s account of historical science and of consilience provide a better foothold for understanding the study of biodiversity after Darwin’s revolution as a form of abductive inference. I conclude by showing how two challenges that are frequently pressed against abductive inference are met in the context of phylogenetic inference.
21st Annual Kent State May 4th Philosophy Graduate Student Conference, 15 March 2014
North Carolina Philosophical Society Meeting, Durham, 22-23 February 2014
Western Michigan University Graduate Philosophy Conference, Kalamazoo, 6-8 December 2013
Quinn, A. & D.E. Wilson 2005 Journal of Mammalogy 86(3): 639-40.
Quinn, A., & D.E. Wilson 2005 Journal of Mammalogy 86(3): 639