Dan McShea, Affliated Faculty of Philosophy and Professor of Biology edit|
Office Location: 139 Bio Sciences Building, Box 90338
Office Phone: 919-660-7342
Fax: (919) 660-7293
Web Page: http://www.biology.duke.edu/mcshealab/
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1990
A.B., Harvard College, 1978
Philosophy of Biology
- Research Interests:
- Dan McShea (Ph.D. 1990, University of
Chicago) arrived at Duke in 1996 with a
primary appointment in Biology, and now
holds a secondary appointment in Philosophy.
From 1991-93 he joined the Michigan Society
of Fellows as a postdoctoral fellow, and from
1994-95 held a postdoc at the Santa Fe
Institute. His major papers are in the field of
paleobiology, with a focus on large-scale
trends in the history of life, especially
documenting and investigating the causes of
the (putative) trend in the complexity of
organisms. A significant part of this work
involves operationalizing certain concepts,
such as complexity and hierarchy, as well as
clarifying conceptual issues related to trends
at larger scales. He publishes regularly in the
Paleobiology, and Biology
and Philosophy. He serves on the
editorial board of Biology and
Philosophy and as a book-review co-editor
for the journal Complexity . McShea is
a member of Duke's
Center for the Philosophy of Biology.
Teaching (Spring 2015):
- Areas of Interest:
- PHIL 314.01, Philosophy of biology
- Biddle 101, TuTh 01:25 PM-02:40 PM
- Representative Publications
- D.W. McShea. "Upper-directed systems: A new approach to teleology in biology." Biology and Philosophy 27 (2012): 663-684.
- D.W. McShea and Robert Brandon. Biology's First Law. University of Chicago Press, 2010.
- L. Fleming and D.W. McShea. "Drosophila mutants suggest a strong drive toward complexity in evolution." Evolution and Development 15 (): 53-62. (Paper was written up in a Scientific American piece by Carl Zimmer. Attached)
- J. Marcot and D.W. McShea. "Increasing hierarchical complexity throughout the history of life: phylogenetic tests of trend mechanisms." Paleobiology 33 (2007): 182-200. [abs] [author's comments]
- D.W. McShea and W. Hordijk. "Complexity by subtraction." Evolutionary Biology 40 (2013): 504-520. [doi]
- D.W. McShea. "The evolution of complexity without natural selection (or, a possible large-scale trend of the fourth kind)." Paleobiology 31 (Supplement) (2005): 146-156.
- D.W. McShea. "Machine wanting." Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (): 679-687. [doi]
- D.W. McShea. "A universal generative tendency toward increased organismal complexity." Variation: A Central Concept in Biology (2005): 435-453.
- D.W. McShea and C. Anderson. "The remodularization of the organism." Modularity: Understanding the Development and Evolution of Natural Complex Systems (2005): 185-206.
- L. Marino, D.W. McShea, and M.D. Uhen. "Origin and evolution of large brains in toothed whales." Anatomical Record 281A (2004): 1247-1255.
- D.W. McShea and M.A. Changizi. "Three puzzles in hierarchical evolution." Integrative and Comparative Biology 43 (2003): 74-81.
- D.W. McShea. "A complexity drain on cells in the evolution of multicellularity." Evolution 56.3 (2002): 441-452.
- D.W. McShea and E.P. Venit. "Testing for bias in the evolution of coloniality: A demonstration in cyclostome bryozoans." Paleobiology 28.3 (2002): 308-327.
- D.W. McShea. "The "minor transitions" in hierarchial evolution and the question of directional bias." Journal of Evolutionary Biology 14 (2001): 502-518.
- D.W. McShea. "The hierarchical structure of organisms: a scale and documentation of a trend in the maximum." Paleobiology 27 (2001): 405-423.
- Anderson, C and DW McShea. "Individual versus social complexity, with particular reference to ant colonies." Biological Reviews (of the Cambridge Philosophical Society) 76 (2001): 211-237.
- D.W. McShea and E.P. Venit. "What is a part?." The Character Concept in Evolutionary Biology (2001).
- D.W. McShea. "Functional complexity in organisms: parts as proxies." Biology and Philosophy 15 (2000): 641-668.
- D.W. McShea. "Feelings as the proximate cause of behavior." Where Psychology Meets Biology: Philosophical Essays (1999).
- D.W. McShea. "Possible largest-scale trends in organismal evolution: eight "live hypotheses"." Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 29 (1998): 293-318.