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Article
Publication date: 7 November 2019

Jörg Räwel

Maturana and Mpodozis (2000) developed a theory of evolution that is based on the concept of autopoiesis and differs paradigmatically from the conventional theory derived…

Abstract

Purpose

Maturana and Mpodozis (2000) developed a theory of evolution that is based on the concept of autopoiesis and differs paradigmatically from the conventional theory derived from Darwin (1859). The present study aims to show that the authors have not exhausted the explanatory potential that the concept of autopoiesis can offer for the theory of evolution. Based on the critique of Maturana and Mpodozis, a system theoretic-oriented concept for the origin of species will be developed.

Design/methodology/approach

To render the explanatory potential of the concept of autopoiesis more fruitful for the theory of evolution, the proposition is made that the application of this concept is not limited to the molecular, or organismal level, as propounded by Maturana and Mpodozis, but should be also related to populations and species. By exempting the design of Maturana and Mpodozis from the rudiments of methodological individualism, a new field of application for the concept of autopoiesis is explored.

Findings

The proposed system theoretic concept of evolution theory makes it possible to shed new, constructive light on fundamental problems in the conventional biology of evolution. For example, with regard to the significance of the emergence of sexuality, or how phases of accelerated change in the course of evolution (e.g. the Cambrian explosion) are possible, or regarding the problem of the units of selection.

Originality/value

Although there have been attempts in the social sciences to interpret populations as autopoietic systems (for example by Niklas Luhmann), the proposed approach to evolutionary biology is new. Also original is a system theoretic conception of the evolutionary theory, in a strict renunciation of methodological individualism. This renunciation permits systems theories of evolution in social science and biology to be compared across disciplines.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 49 no. 10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2002

Bill Houston

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Details

Reference Reviews, vol. 16 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0950-4125

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Book part
Publication date: 26 July 2014

Martin Benninghoff, Raphaël Ramuz, Adriana Gorga and Dietmar Braun

This article analyses in what way Swiss academic institutions have had a favourable or unfavourable influence on changing research practices by following developments in…

Abstract

This article analyses in what way Swiss academic institutions have had a favourable or unfavourable influence on changing research practices by following developments in four scientific areas – Bose-Einstein Condensates, Evolutionary Developmental Biology, Large-Scale Assessments in education research and Computerised Corpus Linguistics. Based on empirical evidence, we argue that overall a number of institutional conditions have had a positive influence on the decisions of scientists to dare a switch to a new scientific field. One finds, however, also differences in the working of these institutional conditions leading to quicker or slower developments of the four selected scientific areas.

Details

Organizational Transformation and Scientific Change: The Impact of Institutional Restructuring on Universities and Intellectual Innovation
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-684-2

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Book part
Publication date: 16 July 2015

Latrica Best and W. Carson Byrd

Our primary aim is to discuss the variability that exists in the operationalization of race/ethnicity in research on genetic and biological markers. We employ Stuart…

Abstract

Purpose

Our primary aim is to discuss the variability that exists in the operationalization of race/ethnicity in research on genetic and biological markers. We employ Stuart Hall’s “floating signifiers” of race approach to explain the ambiguous manner in which researchers discuss the links between race and genetics.

Methodology/approach

We examine articles that use race/ethnicity and genetic or biological markers between 2000 and 2013 within three prominent genetic journals. We focused on original, empirical articles only. We utilize various race/ethnic-related search terms to obtain our sample and to categorize how terms were used.

Findings

A total of 336 articles fit our search criteria. The number of articles mentioning race/ethnicity and genetic or biological information increased over the time. A significant percentage of publications base their research on whites only. When discussions of race are included in studies, scientists often use multiple categories of race/ethnicity without much explanation.

Research limitations/implications

We omit non-research articles and commentary for each journal, which could contain important discussions regarding race and genetics. This work highlights how race/ethnicity can vary in application and interpretation.

Originality/value

Our discussion of race/ethnicity as “floating signifiers” adds a layer of complexity to the longstanding debate regarding the importance of race/ethnicity in genetic research. The “floating” nature of race/ethnicity underlines how subjective the characterizations of samples are and how possible interpretations of results for groups can impact health disparities research. Given the increased use of genetic data by social scientists, there is a need for more cross-disciplinary discussions on the race–gene relationship.

Details

Genetics, Health and Society
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-581-4

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Book part
Publication date: 16 July 2015

Laura Senier, Matthew Kearney and Jason Orne

This mixed-methods study reports on an outreach clinics program designed to deliver genetic services to medically underserved communities in Wisconsin.

Abstract

Purpose

This mixed-methods study reports on an outreach clinics program designed to deliver genetic services to medically underserved communities in Wisconsin.

Methodology/approach

We show the geographic distribution, funding patterns, and utilization trends for outreach clinics over a 20-year period. Interviews with program planners and outreach clinic staff show how external and internal constraints limited the program’s capacity. We compare clinic operations to the conceptual models guiding program design.

Findings

Our findings show that state health officials had to scale back financial support for outreach clinic activities while healthcare providers faced increasing pressure from administrators to reduce investments in charity care. These external and internal constraints led to a decline in the overall number of patients served. We also find that redistribution of clinics to the Milwaukee area increased utilization among Hispanics but not among African-Americans. Our interviews suggest that these patterns may be a function of shortcomings embedded in the planning models.

Research/Policy Implications

Planning models have three shortcomings. First, they do not identify the mitigation of health disparities as a specific goal. Second, they fail to acknowledge that partners face escalating profit-seeking mandates that may limit their capacity to provide charity services. Finally, they underemphasize the importance of seeking trusted partners, especially in working with communities that have been historically marginalized.

Originality/Value

There has been little discussion about equitably leveraging genetic advances that improve healthcare quality and efficacy. The role of State Health Agencies in mitigating disparities in access to genetic services has been largely ignored in the sociological literature.

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Book part
Publication date: 16 July 2015

Callie H. Burt

Heritability studies attempt to estimate the contribution of genes (vs. environments) to variation in phenotypes (or outcomes of interest) in a given population at a given…

Abstract

Purpose

Heritability studies attempt to estimate the contribution of genes (vs. environments) to variation in phenotypes (or outcomes of interest) in a given population at a given time. This chapter scrutinizes heritability studies of adverse health phenotypes, emphasizing flaws that have become more glaring in light of recent advances in the life sciences and manifest most visibly in epigenetics.

Methodology/approach

Drawing on a diverse body of research and critical scholarship, this chapter examines the veracity of methodological and conceptual assumptions of heritability studies.

Findings

The chapter argues that heritability studies are futile for two reasons: (1) heritability studies suffer from serious methodological flaws with the overall effect of making estimates inaccurate and likely biased toward inflated heritability, and, more importantly (2) the conceptual (biological) model on which heritability studies depend – that of identifiably separate effects of genes versus the environment on phenotype variance – is unsound. As discussed, contemporary bioscientific work indicates that genes and environments are enmeshed in a complex (bidirectional, interactional), dynamic relationship that defies any attempt to demarcate separate contributions to phenotype variance. Thus, heritability studies attempt the biologically impossible. The emerging research on the importance of microbiota is also discussed, including how the commensal relationship between microbial and human cells further stymies heritability studies.

Originality/value

Understandably, few sociologists have the time or interest to be informed about the methodological and theoretical underpinnings of heritability studies or to keep pace with the incredible advances in genetics and epigenetics over the last several years. The present chapter aims to provide interested scholars with information about heritability and heritability estimates of adverse health outcomes in light of recent advances in the biosciences.

Details

Genetics, Health and Society
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-581-4

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Book part
Publication date: 18 December 2016

Robert Sussman, Garland Allen and Alan Templeton

Attempts to establish a biological basis for classifying human races into definable groups, arranged hierarchically from most advanced to least advanced, have a long and…

Abstract

Attempts to establish a biological basis for classifying human races into definable groups, arranged hierarchically from most advanced to least advanced, have a long and sordid history. From the days of the Spanish Inquisition, to the colonization of North and South America, the beginnings of the slave trade, to more recent claims about inborn racial differences in intelligence and personality, racists have tried to find biological differences that would separate the various races and provide a justification for social and economic exploitation. Biologically, races have been equated with subspecies as defined in the general biological literature. But the evidence from modern, molecular genetics, indicates that humans do not form the same kinds of distinguishable sub-groups common to other animal, especially mammalian, species. Biologically, human populations are 99% similar genetically, and the various visible characteristics that have traditionally been used to distinguish one “race” from another, do not correlate with any other characters of importance. Humans have evolved as a single lineage with many local populations that have always been in reproductive contact with each other. Thus, human sub-populations have not diverged to the extent that is found in other species, such as chimpanzees.

Details

The Crisis of Race in Higher Education: A Day of Discovery and Dialogue
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-710-6

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Book part
Publication date: 21 February 2008

Arthur S. Goldberger

Regression analyses of compensatory educational programs have been criticized on the grounds that the pupils were not randomly selected. Specifically, it has been argued…

Abstract

Regression analyses of compensatory educational programs have been criticized on the grounds that the pupils were not randomly selected. Specifically, it has been argued that a spurious deleterious effect of the treatment will be observed when the selection procedure systematically puts lower-ability students into the treatment group and higher-ability students into the control group.

We evaluate this argument via a simple test score model: pretest score and posttest score are fallible measures of underlying true ability and the true treatment effect is zero. Posttest is regressed on pretest and a treatment dummy. The spurious effect arises when selection of subjects for treatment is explicit on the basis of true ability, but not when it is explicit on the basis of pretest score.

Details

Modelling and Evaluating Treatment Effects in Econometrics
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-7623-1380-8

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Abstract

Details

Genetics, Health and Society
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-581-4

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Article
Publication date: 23 March 2012

Boris Mitavskiy, Jonathan Rowe and Chris Cannings

The purpose of this paper is to establish a version of a theorem that originated from population genetics and has been later adopted in evolutionary computation theory…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to establish a version of a theorem that originated from population genetics and has been later adopted in evolutionary computation theory that will lead to novel Monte‐Carlo sampling algorithms that provably increase the AI potential.

Design/methodology/approach

In the current paper the authors set up a mathematical framework, state and prove a version of a Geiringer‐like theorem that is very well‐suited for the development of Mote‐Carlo sampling algorithms to cope with randomness and incomplete information to make decisions.

Findings

This work establishes an important theoretical link between classical population genetics, evolutionary computation theory and model free reinforcement learning methodology. Not only may the theory explain the success of the currently existing Monte‐Carlo tree sampling methodology, but it also leads to the development of novel Monte‐Carlo sampling techniques guided by rigorous mathematical foundation.

Practical implications

The theoretical foundations established in the current work provide guidance for the design of powerful Monte‐Carlo sampling algorithms in model free reinforcement learning, to tackle numerous problems in computational intelligence.

Originality/value

Establishing a Geiringer‐like theorem with non‐homologous recombination was a long‐standing open problem in evolutionary computation theory. Apart from overcoming this challenge, in a mathematically elegant fashion and establishing a rather general and powerful version of the theorem, this work leads directly to the development of novel provably powerful algorithms for decision making in the environment involving randomness, hidden or incomplete information.

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