April 24, Challenging the consensus, San Sebastián
When: April 24, 2017 4 pm
Where: IAS Centre for Research on Life, Mind and Society, Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, University of the Basque Country
Davide Vecchi: Challenging the consensus: intrinsicalism and the minimal genome
The consensus in philosophy of biology is based on the tenet that biological species are individuated only by relational properties (relationalism) and not by intrinsic ones (intrinsicalism). In this article I argue that the supporters of relationalism have not taken into account the possibility that minimal species genomes might exist. A minimal genome is a set of genetic properties that all and only the organisms belonging to a certain organismal lineage share. Hereby I critically analyse some prominent arguments that have been proposed to show intrinsicalism’s fallacy. I aim to show that the empirical evidence and the theoretical considerations in support for these arguments are weak. In particular, I show that gene conservation is a powerful evolutionary force able to preserve minimal genomes. I also consider in what sense the existence of a minimal genome would support intrinsicalism.
April 25, 2017, Biological Individuality, San Sebastián
When: April 25, 2017 11.15 am
Where: IAS Centre for Research on Life, Mind and Society, Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science,
University of the Basque Country
Davide Vecchi: Biological individuality and the challenge posed by the ubiquity of multi-species partnerships.
There exist at least two traditions approaching the problem of biological individuality differently. On the one hand, an evolutionary tradition. From this perspective, organisms are only one among many kinds of biological individuals, and individuation is an evolutionary process. On the other hand, a physiological tradition. From this perspective, individuation is an ontogenetic process that can be viewed as an act of closure from an ever-changing environment. The problem of either view is that partnerships between organisms belonging to different species are ubiquitous in the biological world. The first tradition is forced either to downplay the frequency of partnerships, or their evolutionary significance. The second tradition is forced to relinquish the autonomy of the partners and admit their reproductive, metabolic, developmental and physiologically openness, ultimately characterising closure more prosaically as a tendency rather than as an essential categorical property of biological systems. We shall propose that the many examples of partnership where the metabolic, reproductive, physiological and developmental limits of the partner entities cannot be precisely drawn are an ideal test case to think about biological individuality in new terms.
April 29, La sesta estinzione di massa? Foligno (Italia)
When: April 29, 3.30 pm
Where: Auditorium San Domenico, Foligno
Elena Casetta: La sesta estinzione di massa? La crisi della biodiversità tra costruzione sociale e dati scientifici
VII Festa Scienza e Filosofia, Foligno, 27-30 Aprile
June 6, 2017, Second Biodecon Intermediate Meeting, Bergen
When: June 6, 2017
Where: University of Bergen
Second BIODECON Intermediate meeting
July 16-21, 2017, ISHPSSB Meeting in São Paulo, Brazil
Symposium: Biodiversity patterns and their ecological and evolutionary origin
Participants: Elena Casetta, Silvia Di Marco, Jorge Marques da Silva, Susana Varela, Davide Vecchi.
June 6, 2016, Che cos’è H. sapiens?, Genova
When: June 6, 2016 4-6 pm
Where: Department of Philosophy, University of Genova
Elena Casetta & Davide Vecchi: Che cos’è H. sapiens?
Epilog seminar (coord. Cristina Amoretti and Marcello Frixione).
Biodiversity is often understood as species diversity. But, mainly because of the so-called "species problem", speaking of species is anything but uncontroversial. In this talk we propose an "empiricist view" on species and we test it on a particular species, ours.
We first sketch the traits of a “minimal consensus” among biologists on the features displayed by all sexual species—to which H. sapiens belongs. Our working hypothesis is that it is the peculiar evolutionary history of the species at issue, its peculiar metapopulation structure and the peculiar mixture and strength of homeostatic processes that can provide an answer to the two questions. We then reconstruct the evolutionary history of our species and identify the putative evolutionary processes that render it cohesive.
June 21, 2016, Biodecon Seminar. First session, Lisboa
When: June 21, 2016 - 3 pm
Where: Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa,Building C8, room 8.2.02
Fabrizio Macagno: The Problem of Definition.
Suggested reading: "Metadialogues and Redefinitions", in F. Macagno, R. Walton, Emotive Language in Argumentation, Cambridge UP, 2014.
June 30, 2016, Personalized Medicine: semantic ambiguities and ethical quandaries, Lisboa
When: June 30, 2016,11 am
Where: Faculty of Science, University of Lisbon
Silvia Di Marco: Personalized Medicine: semantic ambiguities and ethical quandaries
BioSys PhD programme at BioISI, Faculty of Science, University of Lisbon.
Abstract. Over the last two decades “personalized medicine” (PM) has become a buzzword in the academic and political debates on medicine. Yet, there is no unified definition of what PM actually is or ought to be. Alternative definitions and labels abound. Precision medicine, stratified medicine, individualized medicine, and systems medicine—also known as P4 medicine (predictive, preventive, participatory and personalized)—are just a few examples. This semantic indeterminacy complicates the debate on possibilities, risks and limits of PM. Accordingly, it becomes difficult to foresee and assess its potential impact on healthcare systems and society at large. Yet, this assessment is paramount, because PM raises several ethical and societal issues. In this seminar I review and compare different definitions of PM and present a possible taxonomy of the ethical issues concerning PM (e.g., research, clinical, societal level), paying particular attention to specific problems posed by systems medicine. Drawing an analogy with the problem of the definition of biodiversity, I discuss why it is difficult to define PM and how semantic confusion can hamper the ethical debate.
June 30, 2016, Environmental monitoring in marine and estuarine areas, Ponta Delgada
When: June 30
Where: University of Azores, Ponta Delgada
José Lino Costa: "Environmental monitoring in marine and estuarine areas. Basic principles and some case studies."
3Bs Annual Seminar: Biodiversity, Biomedicine and Biotechnology.
July 6, 2016, Biodecon Seminar. Joined session with EXSY reading group, Lisboa
When: July 6, 2016, 5 pm
- Elena Casetta & Silvia Di Marco: "How Biodiversity has been Defined?"
- General discussion
Delong, D.C.,1996 Defining Biodiversity. Wildlife Soc Bull 24: 738–749
Sarkar, S., 2002, Defining "Biodiversity". Assessing biodiversity. The Monist 85/1: 131-155.
September 15, 2016, Biodecon Seminar. Third session, Lisboa
When: September 15, 2016 - 4 pm
Where: Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa,Building C8, room 8.2.02
4-5 pm - Team meeting
5-6 pm - Presentation of the first draft of "Defining Biodiversity" by Elena Casetta & Silvia Di Marco, and general discussion.
October 6-7, 2016, International Conference: Biodiversity. Units, Levels, Scales, Lisboa
Download the Abstracts booklet
Venue: MUHNAC, Lisbon, 2016 October 6-7, 2016
Description: When it made its first appearance, the term “biodiversity” was mainly intended to sensitize the scientific community and civil society at large towards the loss of species caused by human activities. In a first approximation then, the term “biodiversity” was intended to refer to species’ variety, while assessing biodiversity mainly consisted in inventorying species, and conserving biodiversity in maintaining the inventory.
But a characterization in terms of mere species variety does not seem to fully capture the multitude of dynamic interactions at different levels from which biodiversity results from. The Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) introduced a more encompassing definition: “‘Biological diversity’ means the variability among living organisms from all sources including inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.”
In the light of this broader conception, a set of basic questions could be re-proposed: which are the salient units of biodiversity? How do such units interact among them within the same level and with other levels, and how can this interaction give rise to novel diversity? Is it possible to keep together, in an ideally comprehensive account, this enormously complex interplay of units belonging to different levels and describable and evaluable at different temporal and spatial scales? How to bridge epistemologies concerning biodiversity conservation?
These and similar questions will be addressed by philosophers, anthropologists, biologists, and ecologists in the context of this interdisciplinary international conference.
[Notice: the "Conferência Pública" was given by biologist Judite Alves instead of Luís Vicente.
October 7, 2016, First Biodecon Intermediate Meeting, Lisboa
With the presence of: Elena Casetta, Silvia Di Marco, Matthias Kaiser, Fabrizio Macagno, Jorge Marques da Silva, Thomas Reydon, Davide Vecchi.
October 24, 2016, Preformationism vs. Epigeneticism, Torino
When: October 24, 2016, 3-5 pm
Where: University of Torino, Palazzo del Rettorato.
Elena Casetta: "Preformationism vs. Epigeneticism: inspiration and haunting within and outside the contemporary philosophy of biology".
INTERNATIONAL CHAIR OF PHILOSOPHY JACQUES DERRIDA / LAW AND CULTURE. THIRD EDITION—SCHELLING, NATURE, MYTH, REALIS. Turin 2016, October 24-25.
November 23, 2016, Evolution and its three explananda, Torino
When: November 23, 2016 2-4 pm
Where: Department of Philosophy and Educational Sciences, University of Torino, Palazzo Nuovo (aula 38).
Davide Vecchi – “Evolution and its Three Explananda“.
LABONT Seminar / SOFEE Seminar
A satisfactory theory of evolution should explain at least three striking features of life: adaptedness, diversity and complexity. Darwinism (e.g., Darwin’s evolutionism, the neo-darwinian interpretation of evolution or Modern Synthesis) arguably offers the most successful explanation of adaptedness and diversity available. I shall first review some of the central epistemological features of Darwinian explanations of adaptedness and diversity. I shall then explain why it is sometimes argued that the scope of Darwinism is not limited to “organic evolution” but that it encompasses the evolution of culture. I shall then conclude by pointing at some alleged limits of Darwinism, particularly concerning the explanation of complexity and the emergence of new levels of biological organisation.
December 15, 2016, Symposium: Is an Extended Synthesis required to properly account for biological diversity?, Lisboa
When: December 15, 2016 3.30-5.30 pm
Where: Fórum Lisboa
Organizer: Davide Vecchi
Participants: Silvia Di Marco, Jorge Marques da Silva, Elena Casetta, Susana A.M. Varela, Davide Vecchi
Third Lisbon International Conference on Philosophy of Science: Contemporary Issues, Lisbon, December 14-15-16
Description: The Modern Evolutionary Synthesis was undoubtedly a fundamental achievement in the history of biology: by fusing Mendelian genetics and the Darwinian theory of evolution by natural selection, it promoted the development of evolutionary sciences. Nonetheless, the Modern Synthesis, focusing almost exclusively on genetic inheritance and on changes in gene frequencies, rules out the possibility of extra-genetic inheritance, and puts on the backburner processes that are nevertheless increasingly recognized as playing an important role in evolution, such as niche construction, phenotypic plasticity and symbiogenesis. It is for these reasons that, most recently, a growing number of scholars have called for an extension – or even an overcoming – of the Modern Synthesis (Koonin 2012, Pigliucci & Muller 2010, Laland et al. 2015). In this respect, consider that Mayr – despite defending the view that the Modern Synthesis does not require a revision as a consequence of the spectacular discoveries of molecular biology – conceded that it had limited explanatory resources to fully account for the phenomenon of generation of biodiversity:
«Most of the enormous variation of kinds of organisms has so far been totally ignored by the students of speciation. We have studied the origin of new species in birds, mammals, and certain genera of fishes, lepidopterans, and molluscs, and speciation has been observed to be allopatric (geographical) in most of the studied groups … However, numerous other modes of speciation have also been discovered that are unorthodox in that they differ from allopatric speciation in various ways. Among these other modes are sympatric speciation, speciation by hybridization, by polyploidy and other chromosome rearrangements, by lateral gene transfer, and by symbiogenesis.» (Mayr 2004, p. 47)
In this symposium we would like to provide an interdisciplinary context in which to discuss, from a philosophical and biological perspective, the putative limits of the Modern Synthesis approach as well as the putative benefits of an Extended Synthesis approach to the phenomenon of generation of biodiversity.
Koonin, E. V. (2012). The Logic of Chance. Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press.
Laland, K. et al. (2015). The extended evolutionary synthesis: its structure, assumptions and predictions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Mayr E. 2004. Happy birthday: 80 years of watching the evolutionary scenery. Science, 305(5680):46-7.
Pigliucci, M. & Müller, G. B. (2010). Evolution – The Extended Synthesis. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
January 11, 2017, La biodiversità: costruzione sociale o oggetto scientifico?, Torino
When: January 11, 2017 5-7 pm
Where: University of Turin, aula H5, Campus Luigi Einaudi - CLE,Torino
Elena Casetta: La biodiversità: costruzione sociale o oggetto scientifico?
La parola “biodiversità” è stata introdotta negli Stati Uniti nel 1985, con ragioni principalmente politiche. Da un lato, si può considerare “biodiversità” come nient’altro che la composizione linguistica di “diversità biologica”, espressione ampiamente utilizzata in ecologia a partire dagli anni Cinquanta. Dall’altro, si può pensare che ci sia, nella biodiversità, qualcosa di più—o di meno—che nella diversità biologica. In questo intervento vorrei (1) provare a prendere sul serio quest’intuizione, l’idea cioè che “biodiversità” e “diversità biologica” si riferiscano a due cose diverse; (2) mostrare che l’approccio dei servizi ecosistemici può, a differenza di altri framework, rendere conto di entrambe.
January 25, 2017, Biodecon Team Meeting, Lisboa
When: January 25, 2017 11-12 am / 2.30-4.30 pm
Where: Meeting room, CFCUL, University of Lisbon
11-12 am - Team meeting.With the presence of: Judite Alves, Elena Casetta, Lino Costa, Silvia Di Marco, Jorge Marques da Silva, Davide Vecchi.
2.30-4.30 pm - Elena Casetta, Fabrizio Macagno, Silvia Di Marco. Discussion on the ongoing review of the definitions of biodiversity.
March 2, 2017, Biodecon Seminar: Ecological indicators of environmental change, Lisboa
When: March 2, 2017, h. 2.30 pm
Cristina Branquinho: Ecological indicators of environmental change: diagnose, evaluate and anticipate
Elena Casetta: Introduction
March 10, 2017, A Processual Account of Biological Individuality, Exeter
When: March 10, 2017
Where:Egenis, The Centre for the Study of Life Sciences, University of
10.15 - 11.00 Davide Vecchi (Lisbon) & Isaac Hernández (Toulouse): A Processual Account of Biological
Individuality: The Case of Partnerships
In the Conference “Organisms: Living Systems and Processes” organised by Anne Sophie Meincke (Exeter) & John Dupré (Exeter),9-10 March 2017