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Biological Theory’s June issue is out

Biological Theory’s latest issue, 19(2), includes an article by Claudio Rodríguez Higuera explicating Charles Sanders Peirce’s philosophy of signs and its unexplored connections to modern philosophy of biology. The author proposes that Peircean biosemiotics offers significant implications for organismal subjectivity and causality in evolution from the perspective of niche construction.

Harry Smit examines two of the fundamental problems Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote about—the relation of negation to the intentionality of thought and the grounds of sensory experience. Smit discusses how Wittgenstein’s combined resolution of these questions led him to reject representational idealism and fashion new explanations of the mind’s development and evolution.   

Lenny Moss follows up on the thematic section on “Concepts of Agency” that he guest edited for the March issue, offering a review of current ideas about agency from three of its essays. He provides a synthetic critique of the three positions with a proposal to extend notions of incipient normativity and agency to the abiotic natural world.

Also in the June issue, in a new “Classics in Biological Theory” article, is Gregory Kohn’s introductory essay to a classic paper on behavior by T. C. Schneirla, which has gained renewed importance, Kohn writes, in regard to the current revival of the nature versus nurture debate. Schneirla’s paper offered an American developmentalist approach in contrast to the emphasis on “inbuilt” and instinctual behavior in the European-dominated field of ethology. Leading researchers from both sides of the Atlantic (including its main antagonist, Konrad Lorenz) debated Schneirla’s paper during the 1954 meeting where it was presented, and the issue also includes a first-ever English translation of the complete discussion.

Rounding out 19(2) is Robert Prinz’s guide to biological codes. This century has seen an explosion in the number of codes identified, beyond the genetic code, Prinz writes, and in this resource he updates Marcello Barbieri’s categories along with identifying two previously unrecognized types of codes: restriction–modification and toxin–antitoxin systems.