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ASU Electronic Theses and Dissertations


This collection includes most of the ASU Theses and Dissertations from 2011 to present. ASU Theses and Dissertations are available in downloadable PDF format; however, a small percentage of items are under embargo. Information about the dissertations/theses includes degree information, committee members, an abstract, supporting data or media.

In addition to the electronic theses found in the ASU Digital Repository, ASU Theses and Dissertations can be found in the ASU Library Catalog.

Dissertations and Theses granted by Arizona State University are archived and made available through a joint effort of the ASU Graduate College and the ASU Libraries. For more information or questions about this collection contact or visit the Digital Repository ETD Library Guide or contact the ASU Graduate College at gradformat@asu.edu.


Date Range
2011 2019


One activity for which philosophers are perhaps best known is having disputes with one another. Some non-philosophers, and increasingly many philosophers, believe that a number of these disputes are silly or misguided in some way. Call such silly or misguided disputes defective disputes. When is a dispute defective? What kinds of defective disputes are there? How are these different kinds of defective disputes different from one another? What does it mean to call a dispute 'merely verbal'? These questions come up for consideration in Part One of this manuscript. In Part Two I examine whether certain disputes in ontology and …

Contributors
Marsh, Gerald Horton, French, Peter, Creath, Richard, et al.
Created Date
2011

The present essay addresses the epistemic difficulties involved in achieving consensus with respect to the Hayek-Keynes debate. In particular, it is argued that the debate cannot be settled on the basis of the observable evidence; or, more precisely, that the empirical implications of the theories of Hayek and Keynes are such that, regardless of what is observed, both of the theories can be interpreted as true, or at least, not falsified. Regardless of the evidence, both Hayek and Keynes can be interpreted as right. The underdetermination of theories by evidence is an old and ubiquitous problem in science. The present …

Contributors
Scheall, Scott Davis, Creath, Richard, Armendt, Brad, et al.
Created Date
2012

Gays identity is usually cast in generics--statements about an indeterminate number of members in a given category. Sometimes these generic statements often get built up into folk definitions, vague and imprecise ways to talk about objects. Other times generics get co-opted into authentic definitions, definitions that pick out a few traits and assert that real members of the class have these traits and members that do not are simply members by a technicality. I assess how we adopt these generic traits into our language and what are the ramifications of using generic traits as a social identity. I analyze the …

Contributors
Blankschaen, Kurt, Calhoun, Cheshire, Pinillos, Angel, et al.
Created Date
2012

Once perceived as an unimportant occurrence in living organisms, cell degeneration was reconfigured as an important biological phenomenon in development, aging, health, and diseases in the twentieth century. This dissertation tells a twentieth-century history of scientific investigations on cell degeneration, including cell death and aging. By describing four central developments in cell degeneration research with the four major chapters, I trace the emergence of the degenerating cell as a scientific object, describe the generations of a variety of concepts, interpretations and usages associated with cell death and aging, and analyze the transforming influences of the rising cell degeneration research. Particularly, …

Contributors
Jiang, Lijing, Maienschein, Jane, Laubichler, Manfred, et al.
Created Date
2013

The academic literature on science communication widely acknowledges a problem: science communication between experts and lay audiences is important, but it is not done well. General audience popular science books, however, carry a reputation for clear science communication and are understudied in the academic literature. For this doctoral dissertation, I utilize Sam Harris's The Moral Landscape, a general audience science book on the particularly thorny topic of neuroscientific approaches to morality, as a case-study to explore the possibility of using general audience science books as models for science communication more broadly. I conduct a literary analysis of the text that …

Contributors
Johnson, Nathan, Robert, Jason S, Creath, Richard, et al.
Created Date
2013

This is a study of scientific realism, and of the extent to which it is undermined by objections that have been raised by advocates of various forms of antirealism. I seek to develop and present a version of scientific realism that improves on past formulations, and then to show that standard antirealist arguments against it do not succeed. In this paper, I will first present my formulation of scientific realism, which conceives of theories as model-based and as fundamentally non-linguistic. I advocate an epistemic position that accords with indirect realism, and I review and assess the threat posed by theses …

Contributors
Novack, Alexander Dion, Armendt, Brad, Creath, Richard, et al.
Created Date
2013

This thesis is concerned with the methodological role of intuitions in metaphysics. It is divided into two main parts. Part I argues that an academic field can only employ a method of gathering evidence if it has established some agreed-upon standards regarding how to evaluate uses of this method. Existing meta-philosophical disputes take the nature of intuitions to be their starting point. This is a mistake. My concern is not the epistemic status of intuitions, but rather how metaphysicians appeal to intuitions as a form of evidence. In order for intuitions to play a viable role in research they must …

Contributors
Musgrave, Shea, Creath, Richard, Pinillos, Nestor A., et al.
Created Date
2014

Computational tools in the digital humanities often either work on the macro-scale, enabling researchers to analyze huge amounts of data, or on the micro-scale, supporting scholars in the interpretation and analysis of individual documents. The proposed research system that was developed in the context of this dissertation ("Quadriga System") works to bridge these two extremes by offering tools to support close reading and interpretation of texts, while at the same time providing a means for collaboration and data collection that could lead to analyses based on big datasets. In the field of history of science, researchers usually use unstructured data …

Contributors
Damerow, Julia, Laubichler, Manfred, Maienschein, Jane, et al.
Created Date
2014

In 1997, developmental biologist Michael Richardson compared his research team's embryo photographs to Ernst Haeckel's 1874 embryo drawings and called Haeckel's work noncredible.Science soon published <&ldquo;>Haeckel's Embryos: Fraud Rediscovered,<&rdquo;> and Richardson's comments further reinvigorated criticism of Haeckel by others with articles in The American Biology Teacher, <&ldquo;>Haeckel's Embryos and Evolution: Setting the Record Straight <&rdquo;> and the New York Times, <&ldquo;>Biology Text Illustrations more Fiction than Fact.<&rdquo;> Meanwhile, others emphatically stated that the goal of comparative embryology was not to resurrect Haeckel's work. At the center of the controversy was Haeckel's no-longer-accepted idea of recapitulation. Haeckel believed that the development …

Contributors
Wellner, Karen Linette, Maienschein, Jane, Ellison, Karin D., et al.
Created Date
2014

How fast is evolution? In this dissertation I document a profound change that occurred around the middle of the 20th century in the way that ecologists conceptualized the temporal and spatial scales of adaptive evolution, through the lens of British plant ecologist Anthony David Bradshaw (1926–2008). In the early 1960s, one prominent ecologist distinguished what he called “ecological time”—around ten generations—from “evolutionary time”— around half of a million years. For most ecologists working in the first half of the 20th century, evolution by natural selection was indeed a slow and plodding process, tangible in its products but not in its …

Contributors
Peirson, Bruce Richard Erick, Laubichler, Manfred D, Maienschein, Jane, et al.
Created Date
2015

The study of wasp societies (family Vespidae) has played a central role in advancing our knowledge of why social life evolves and how it functions. This dissertation asks: How have scientists generated and evaluated new concepts and theories about social life and its evolution by investigating wasp societies? It addresses this question both from a narrative/historical and from a reflective/epistemological perspective. The historical narratives reconstruct the investigative pathways of the Italian entomologist Leo Pardi (1915-1990) and the British evolutionary biologist William D. Hamilton (1936-2000). The works of these two scientists represent respectively the beginning of our current understanding of immediate …

Contributors
Caniglia, Guido, Laubichler, Manfred, Maienschein, Jane, et al.
Created Date
2016

The Modern Synthesis embodies a theory of natural selection where selection is to be fundamentally understood in terms of measures of fitness and the covariance of reproductive success and trait or character variables. Whether made explicit or left implicit, the notion that selection requires that some trait variable cause reproductive success has been deemphasized in our modern understanding of exactly what selection amounts to. The dissertation seeks to advance a theory of natural selection that is fundamentally causal. By focusing on the causal nature of natural selection (rather than on fitness or statistical formulae), certain conceptual and methodological problems are …

Contributors
Anderson, Wesley, Armendt, Brad, Creath, Richard, et al.
Created Date
2016

A central task for historians and philosophers of science is to characterize and analyze the epistemic practices in a given science. The epistemic practice of a science includes its explanatory goals as well as the methods used to achieve these goals. This dissertation addresses the epistemic practices in gene expression research spanning the mid-twentieth century to the twenty-first century. The critical evaluation of the standard historical narratives of the molecular life sciences clarifies certain philosophical problems with respect to reduction, emergence, and representation, and offers new ways with which to think about the development of scientific research and the nature …

Contributors
Racine, Valerie, Maienschein, Jane, Laubichler, Manfred D, et al.
Created Date
2016

Systems biology studies complex biological systems. It is an interdisciplinary field, with biologists working with non-biologists such as computer scientists, engineers, chemists, and mathematicians to address research problems applying systems’ perspectives. How these different researchers and their disciplines differently contributed to the advancement of this field over time is a question worth examining. Did systems biology become a systems-oriented science or a biology-oriented science from 1992 to 2013? This project utilized computational tools to analyze large data sets and interpreted the results from historical and philosophical perspectives. Tools deployed were derived from scientometrics, corpus linguistics, text-based analysis, network analysis, and …

Contributors
Zou, Yawen, Laubichler, Manfred, Maienschein, Jane, et al.
Created Date
2016

This dissertation begins to lay out a small slice of the history of morphological research, and how it has changed, from the late 19th through the close of the 20th century. Investigators using different methods, addressing different questions, holding different assumptions, and coming from different research fields have pursued morphological research programs, i.e. research programs that explore the process of changing form. Subsequently, the way in which investigators have pursued and understood morphology has witnessed significant changes from the 19th century to modern day research. In order to trace this shifting history of morphology, I have selected a particular organ, …

Contributors
MacCord, Kate, Maienschein, Jane, Laubichler, Manfred, et al.
Created Date
2017

At the interface of developmental biology and evolutionary biology, the very criteria of scientific knowledge are up for grabs. A central issue is the status of evolutionary genetics models, which some argue cannot coherently be used with complex gene regulatory network (GRN) models to explain the same evolutionary phenomena. Despite those claims, many researchers use evolutionary genetics models jointly with GRN models to study evolutionary phenomena. How do those researchers deploy those two kinds of models so that they are consistent and compatible with each other? To address that question, this dissertation closely examines, dissects, and compares two recent research …

Contributors
Elliott, Steve, Creath, Richard, Laubichler, Manfred D., et al.
Created Date
2017

This dissertation examines the efforts of the Carnegie Image Tube Committee (CITC), a group created by Vannevar Bush and composed of astronomers and physicists, who sought to develop a photoelectric imaging device, generally called an image tube, to aid astronomical observations. The Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism coordinated the CITC, but the committee included members from observatories and laboratories across the United States. The CITC, which operated from 1954 to 1976, sought to replace direct photography as the primary means of astronomical imaging. Physicists, who gained training in electronics during World War II, led the early push …

Contributors
Thompson, Samantha Michelle, Ellison, Karin, Wetmore, Jameson, et al.
Created Date
2019