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轉達Philosophy of Biology session at Southwest University, Chongqing相關訊息

發布日期 2011-05-11 到期日期 2011-06-25
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PHILOSOPHY SUMMER SCHOOL IN CHINA

2011 SESSION: PHILOSOPHY OF BIOLOGY

SOUTHWEST UNIVERSITY, CHONGQING

 

25 July-14 August 2011

 

Dr. Brian Garvey (Lancaster University) director:

Evolution and Human Nature

Professor Paul E. Griffiths (University of Sydney)

Philosophy, Genetics and Evolution

Professor Armand M. Leroi (Imperial College London)

ARISTOTLE’S BIOLOGY

Dr. Fern Elsdon-Baker (British Council)

COMMUNICATING BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES IN GLOBALLY DIVERSE CULTURES

 

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

 

Evolution and Human Nature

Dr Brian Garvey (Lancaster University)

 

Lecture 1. Introducing sociobiology

I will start by introducing Edward O. Wilson, explaining what sociobiology in general is (i.e. sociobiology of animals). I will explain kin selection and reciprocal altruism, both of which played significant roles in Wilson’s theories. I will discuss Wilson’s suggestions on how this might apply to humans, and the attempts of others to put this into practise.

 

Lecture 2. The sociobiology controversy

This lecture will be about early reactions to Wilson’s work:

(1) Political criticisms: the alleged links to ‘racial science’ and eugenics; the alleged fatalism about human nature, and consequently about social hierarchies, war, sexist behaviour in men, etc.

(2) Scientific criticisms: since this will be a major theme of the whole course, I will here only briefly discuss the early scientific criticisms: the alleged genetic determinism and panglossianism; the highly speculative nature of the project.

 

Lecture 3. Introducing Evolutionary Psychology

This lecture will discuss Evolutionary Psychology as a successor to sociobiology; how (as Evolutionary Psychologists characterise it) their view attempts to shift the focus from patterns of behaviour being products of evolution to cognitive modules being products of evolution. I will explain the ideas they have taken from earlier cognitive science, in particular the massive modularity thesis, and their evolutionary arguments for it.

 

Lecture 4. Criticisms of the massive modularity thesis

Here I will assess the evolutionary, and other, arguments for massive modularity. In particular, I will present the arguments of Fodor and others to show that there are severe limitations on what modularity can explain.

 

Lecture 5. Criticisms of Evolutionary Psychology’s methodology

Here I will discuss criticisms of Evolutionary Psychology’s methodological assumptions, in particular the possible problem of lack of evidence (and Evolutionary Psychologists’ response to this), and their alleged commitment to a panglossian paradigm. I will offer some case-studies, including Cosmides’ alleged findings about the Wason card-sorting test.

 

Lecture 6. The issue of genetic determinism

Here I will address the questions: what is genetic determinism? Is it a straw man? I will explain the differences between genetic determinism and genetic selectionism, and raise the possibility that Evolutionary Psychologists are only committed to the latter. Then I will present Developmental Systems Theory as a challenge to genetic selectionism, and possible implications of this for Evolutionary Psychology

 

Lecture 7. Nature and Nurture

This lecture will be about attempts that have been made to define ‘innate’ and ‘acquired’, and about how the distinction may have to be abandoned. I will discuss Evolutionary Psychology’s position on the issue – their denial that they are ‘nativists’ on the ground that they reject the distinction. I will then ask: why do they nonetheless appear to be nativists? Are they sneaking nativism in by the back door? (This lecture will draw on a paper of my own: “Nature, Nurture and Why the Pendulum Still Swings”, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 35 (2), 2005.)

 

Lecture 8. Possible implications of Evolutionary Psychology for human free will

Here I will discuss the question of whether evolutionary theories of human nature, if true, imply that we have less free will then we might have thought. I will again bring up the issue of genetic determinism, but will also suggest that the massive modularity thesis, independently of genetic determinism, may be the source of the problem. (This lecture will draw on another paper of mine “Free Will, Compatibilism, and the Human Nature Wars”, forthcoming in Thomas Reydon and Katie Plaisance eds. Philosophy of Behavioural Biology, Boston Studies in Philosophy and Science, Springer.)

 

Lecture 9. New directions in (small-e, small-p) evolutionary psychology I: Evo-devo and the mind

Here I will introduce Buller’s distinction between ‘Evolutionary Psychology’ and ‘evolutionary psychology’ – the former being a research programme with a specific set of commitments (the modularity thesis, genetic selectionism, etc.), the latter being any research programme that uses evolution to understand human nature. I will present evo-devo and show how it challenges both gene-centred and adaptationist views of evolution, and offers a different way of thinking about modularity. I will make some suggestions on how this might affect the issue of human nature, both in supplying a critical stance towards Evolutionary Psychology, and in suggesting a positive alternative approach. (This lecture will draw to some extent on a paper by Paul Griffiths: “Evo-Devo Meets the Mind: Towards a Developmental Evolutionary Psychology”, in Roger Sanson and Robert Brandon eds. Integrating Evolution and Development, MIT Press, 2007.)

 

Lecture 10. New directions in evolutionary psychology II: Extende/embedded cognition

I will introduce Clark’s concept of Extended/embedded cognition – the idea that much cognition goes on outside the head, and that consequently we can explain much of our cognitive capacities without having to presuppose as much internal processing as cognitive science has traditionally thought. I will discuss how this provides an alternative to the Evolutionary Psychology view that the mind must contain many information-rich inbuilt modules. Rowlands’ evolutionary arguments for large-scale embedded cognition will be presented, and Ratcliffe’s will be discussed as a case-study.

 

COURSE TEXT: Selected readings

 

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Philosophy, Genetics and Evolution

Professor Paul E. Griffiths (University of Sydney)

 

Lecture 1. Introduction

I will briefly outline how ‘philosophy of biology’ came to be a recognized sub-discipline in philosophy. I will outline with examples, three sort of work that fall under the heading of philosophy of biology:

1. Work on general questions in philosophy of science using biology as a test case

2. Work on conceptual issues in biological theory

3. Work on the implications of biology for traditional philosophical questions

 

I will briefly indicate the content of the following lectures

 

Lecture 2. Evolution and Purpose

The focus of this lecture will be on attempts to derive purpose in nature from evolutionary theory. This will require a brief outline of how evolutionary explanations work, and of some of the philosophical issues raised by the ‘adaptationism debate’ in evolutionary biology.

 

I will outline the three main forms of adaptationism that have been defended by biologists and philosophers:

·         Empirical Adaptationism: Natural selection is a powerful and ubiquitous force, and there are few constraints on the biological variation that fuels it. To a large degree, it is possible to predict and explain the outcome of evolutionary processes by attending only to the role played by selection

·         Methodological Adaptationism: The best way for scientists to approach biological systems is to look for features of adaptation and good design. Adaptation is a good “organizing concept” for evolutionary research.

·         Explanatory Adaptationism: The apparent design of organisms, and the relations of adaptedness between organisms and their environments, are the key questions in biology. Explaining these phenomena is the core intellectual mission of evolutionary theory.

 

The take-home message of this lecture will be that the key conceptual role of the idea of adaptation in modern biology (explanatory adaptationism) is independent of the empirical issues about the relative role of adaptation and other causes in shaping the diversity of life empirical adaptationism).

 

Lecture 3. Evolutionary Biology and the Proximal Biosciences

The focus of this lecture will be on the relationship between evolutionary biology and the experimental, laboratory-based work that makes up most of the practice of modern biology, particularly genetics and molecular biology.

 

I will outline Ernst Mayr’s concepts of ‘ultimate’ and ‘proximal’ biology and criticize those concepts in light of Niko Tinbergen’s ‘four questions’ model of biological explanation.

I will outline some recent attempts by philosophers of biology to argue that the proximal biosciences are epistemically independent of evolutionary biology and criticize their arguments.

 

The take-home message of this lecture will be that evolutionary biology defines what counts as a living system, and which of the activities of such systems constitute being alive, and thus that evolutionary biology frames the questions of the other biosciences.

Lecture 4. The Gene

The focus of this lecture will be on classical, transmission genetics, including the application of the principles of classical genetic analysis to hereditary disease, agricultural genetics, and population genetics.

 

The key philosophical question to be explored is the nature of theoretical entities. We will contrast the treatment of the gene as an intervening variable – a calculating device - with its treatment as a physical unit.

 

The take-home message of the lecture, following the main thrust of recent scholarship is that Mendelian genetics was primarily an experimental practice (‘genetic analysis’) which allowed the exploration of other biological questions.  As such, the Mendelian conception of the gene is still alive and well in fields in which similar experimental practices are still used.

 

Lecture 5. Genes as physical objects

The focus of this lecture will be molecular genetics.

 

The most important philosophical question to be explored in this lecture is that of whether Mendelian genetics reduces to molecular biology. I will argue that, although molecular biology shows that there is nothing more to genetics than the molecular processes it reveals, the idea of an, Mendelian old theory being reduced to a new, molecular theory does not fit the case of genetics. I will argue that the sense on which molecular biological research is an example of successful reductionistic research is best captured by the neo-Mechanist accounts of reduction as the elucidation of underlying mechanisms associated with authors such as William Bechtel.

 

The take-home message of this lecture is that the discoveries of genetics can’t be fitted into the simple model of growing knowledge about an object called ‘the gene’. Instead, various uses of the term ‘gene’ relate to different ways of thinking about what the genetic system does in evolution, heredity and development. Each of these ways of thinking is grounded in real facts about what the underlying molecules are doing, but it is not possible to reduce them all to one, uniform way of chopping DNA sequences up into ‘genes’.

 

Lecture 6. Genes and behaviour

This lecture will focus on behavioral genetics (including psychiatric genetics). I will explain briefly how quantitative genetics more broadly emerged from the work of Fisher and found applications in agricultural research and evolutionary genetics.

 

The primary philosophical issue here is the relationship between correlational explanations, based on population-level statistical data, and mechanical explanations, based on causal analysis. We will look at the different concept of gene-environment interaction that these techniques necessitate, and at how scientists frame their research so as to sidestep practical obstacles arising from their techniques.

 

The take-home message of this lecture is that traditional concerns about behavior genetics are being overcome through the adoption of more experimental, as opposed to observational, techniques and through the ‘molecularisation of nurture’, which is allowing gene-environment interaction to become a focus of research rather than a methodological obstacle.

 

Lecture 7. The reactive genome

This lecture focuses on postgenomics and systems biology. I will outline the task of genome annotation posed by the success of major sequencing projects, and look at the ENCODE project as an example of ‘postgenomics’.

 

The lecture will outline the demise of the idea that coding genes are the main functional elements of the genome, and that they contain a self-executing program, and then explore some potential replacements for that idea: 1. Postgenomic accounts of gene regulation - regulated recruitment and combinatorial specificity of transcription complexes and the postulated role of small RNAs. 2. The idea of ‘systems biology’ – I will look at the various sense in which this phrase is used and their relation – or lack thereof – to the old tradition of systems theory.

 

The philosophical topics to be explored in this lecture are twofold. First, I will use the material to develop further the account of reduction and reductionism given in the last lecture. I will argue that postgenomic biology reinforces the idea that the organization of parts, as much as the parts themselves, is the key to explanations of how living systems function and that this supports a weak, Bechtel-style anti reductionism. I will criticize recent defenses of reductionism, such as that of Alexander Rosenberg, from this perspective.

 

Second, I will reflect on the trend to data-driven, descriptive science in the research described and use this to exemplify some of the themes in the recent neo-Mechanist literature. Contemporary molecular bioscience does not consist of general laws and theories that unify diverse phenomena, but rather a cast of parts and mechanisms who only overarching pattern is phylogenetic. I will assess the frequently made assertion that systems biology in particular is a descriptive, rather than an explanatory enterprise, using a mechanist account of explanation.

 

The take-home message of this lecture is that the genome is not an inner controller, but a reactive structure embedded in a wider environment, and that it is this system that biology is now trying to understand. The sciences that are creating this new understanding are molecular in nature, but the leap from this to traditional part-whole reductionism can only be made by assimilating molecular bioscience to traditional philosophical models of scientific theories which do not fit.

 

Lecture 8. Outside the Gene

This lecture will examine epigenetic inheritance, parental effects, and phenotypic plasticity. It will introduce the idea of ‘ecological developmental biology’ and reinterpret that research program via the idea of ‘developmental niche construction’. The lecture will suggest that biological advances are subverting the nature/nurture dichotomy by relocating nurture at the molecular-level.

 

A historical section will discuss the ancient distinction between epigenesist and preformation. Epigenesis was and is the focus on a contingent developmental process rather than a preformed or predetermined product. In the 1940s Conrad Waddington integrated this concept into his view of genetics - epigenetics - to stress the dynamic and interactive nature of development. The relatively new, molecular definition of the term - as changes in gene expression that do not involve changes in the genetic material – can be interpreted as just a handful of mechanisms within the wide range epigenetic processes that define development. This will be followed by an outline of the ideas of the evolutionary thinkers of the 1940s who thought in terms of phenotypic plasticity and the adaptive norm.

 

The philosophical themes of this lecture will not be from the general philosophy of science, but will relate to specific debates in recent philosophy of biology. In particular, the lecture will look at current incarnations of the nature/nurture controversy, and show how the kind of scientific material described in the lecture can be used to support several radical theoretical agendas – the ‘multiple inheritance systems’ view,  ‘developmental systems theory’, and alternative evolutionary processes such as genetic assimilation/accommodation. I will argue that at the very least the material reviewed tells strongly against the idea that the gene is the unit of evolution and in favour of the view that evolution is at bottom a phenotypic-level process.

 

The take-home message of this lecture is that recent developments lend considerable support to a form of ‘molecular epigenesis’.

 

Lecture 9. The gene in evolution

This lecture focuses on comparative genomics and molecular systematics. I will give a basic sense of the logic behind both parsimony and maximum likelihood methods in phylogenetic systematics.

 

I will also introduce some of the key ideas in the philosophy of systematics, showing that molecular systematic is conducted on the basis of a taxonomic philosophy that is phylogenetic, rather than phenetic or ‘evolutionary’ in Mayr’s sense. 

 

The take home message of this lecture is: Nothing in the genome makes sense except in the light of evolution.

 

Lecture 10. On the parts of animals.

The title of this lecture is the title of one of the works of Aristotle, usually regarded as the first philosopher to think about biology. His question remains a good one today – what is the correct way to divide an animal into its proper parts? In molecular biology this question arises for the genome – what are the proper parts of a biomolecule?

 

I will outline in more detail the idea of  ‘homology’, introduced in the previous lecture, and its companion concept of ‘analogy’. I will explain the development of these ideas in recent molecular biology and show how they have been modified and supplemented with additional concepts.

 

The main philosophical issue in this lecture will be the relationship between the concept of homology and evolutionary biology. I will outline some opposing views on this issue put forward by contemporary biologists and philosophers, and examine their arguments.

 

The take-home message of this lecture is that, while nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution, this is an empirical discovery, not an a priori truth. If evolutionary theory turned out to be false, much of the detailed theory developed by biologists would remain valid and could be construed in light of some alternative explanatory framework.

 

COURSE TEXT: Kim Sterelny & Paul E. Griffiths, Sex and Death: An Introduction to Philosophy of Biology (University of Chicago Press, 1999).

 

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ARISTOTLE’S BIOLOGY

Professor Armand  M. Leroi (Imperial College London)

 

Title: Aristotle: Dead or Alive?

 

Aristotle was the first biologist.  He didn’t call himself one – but he was the first thinker to consider the entire world of living things as a subject of study.  His scope was immense:  he wrote 11 books that collectively form a “Great Course” in biology – but many scholars have argued that biological thinking pervades his entire philosophical system.  In this course I will outline what he tried to do, how he did it, and how modern science is still imbued with the consequences of his great project.

 

Lecture 1.  Plato v. Aristotle, or, what is science?

 

Pick up any of Aristotle’s biological works – Historia Animalium, say – and you find yourself reading a work that is recognisably science.  A rather funny kind of science to be sure, yet one whose goals do not seem very different from those of any modern biologist.  Why is that?  And what do we mean by “science”?  We’ll compare Aristotle’s project with that of his teacher, Plato who, late in life, wrote the Timaeus, a cosmology that also looks like a scientific work.  But is it?  And if not, why not?  If we can answer these questions, perhaps we can find out what science meant to Aristotle.

 

Lecture 2.  Aristotle by the shore:  the theory and practise of science. 

 

In the Posterior Analytics, Aristotle sketched, at great and complex length, a scientific method.  Many scholars have searched for this method in his biological works – but they haven’t had much luck.  Why is that?  How did Aristotle actually go about doing science?  To find out we consider where he got his data from, how he decided whether or not to believe it, how he arranged it, and why he did so. 

 

Lecture 3.  Nature’s Joints. 

 

In the 19th century many scholars thought that Aristotle was a taxonomist.  In the 1960’s and 70’s some scholars even argued that Aristotle’s “essentialist” taxonomy had stifled the theory of evolution for 2000 years!  Is this so?  Was Aristotle a proto-Linnaeus; was he an “essentialist;” was Linneaus? What are the goals of classification?  And how do you – to use Plato’s phrase – “carve nature at the joints?”

 

Lecture 5.  Ways of Explaining.

 

Aristotle thought that the goal of science was to explain phenomena.  And he developed his famous “four causes” to do just that.  Here we investigate what they are, how he used them, and discuss their influence on biology’s subsequent history. 

 

Lecture 6. What’s the matter? Materialism & its Discontents.

 

Aristotle’s great opponents were the Pre-Socratic philosophers such as Democritus and Empedocles.  They were “materialists:”  they thought that the world, in all its compexity, could be explained in terms of the properties of matter.  Aristotle doesn’t like this.  He really dislikes Democritus’ atomism.  Why?  What consequences does his stance have for his account of the world?  Can Aristotle be a reductionist if he’s not a materialist?  Can we?

 

Lecture 7. Engineering without Evolution.

 

Dobzhansky famously said that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”  Well, Aristotle was no evolutionist – and yet quite a lot of what he says about biology makes sense.  How can that be?  In this lecture I will argue that when Aristotle tries to explain the natural world, he is thinking like an engineer.  Modern biologists do too and so their explanations don’t seem that different.  But who – or what – is the engineer?

 

Lecture 8. The Cybernetic Soul.

 

At the heart of Aristotle’s physiology lies, well, the heart.  He thinks that the heart is the “seat of the soul” – by which he means the thing that keeps living things alive.  The soul also mediates their goals  - it’s a very teleological device.  But isn’t this talk of souls hopelessly mystical?  Many scholars have thought so:  they charge Aristotle with that most heinous of biological thought-crimes:  “vitalism”.  I think that’s wrong – and I’ll try to explain how Aristotle’s soul not only makes a great deal of sense, but solves a number of his problems – and ours as well.

 

Lecture 9. The Paradoxes of Eternity. 

 

Aristotle was no evolutionist.  But he wasn’t a creationist either. He was something else – an “eternalist”.  He thought that the world that we see has always been there and always will be.  This, by modern standards, is a strange idea: creationism and evolutionism at least agree that the world had a start!  Why did he believe it?  Finding out will bring us to Aristotle’s relationship with the divine.  For God does have a place in Aristotle’s cosmology and even in his biology – but why?

 

Lecture 10.  Aristotle v. Darwin, or, what is science?

 

Aristotle and Darwin are the two greatest biologist of all time.  They have a great deal in common:  both accumulated enormous amounts of data in order to prosecute particular theoretical agendas.  We’ll study them to find out how they did this.  But we won’t discuss their triumphs.  Instead we’ll consider their failures:  Darwin’s theory of inheritance (Pangenesis) and Aristotle’s theory of spontaneous generation.   Both of these theories, in their day, were met with sensible criticisms.  So why did these great scientists believe them? Were their failures of the same kind? If we can answer these questions, we may find out what “science” meant to them – and what it means to us. 

 

Course Text: The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation (ed. by J. Barnes, Princeton)

 

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COMMUNICATING BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

IN GLOBALLY DIVERSE CULTURES

Dr. Fern Elsdon-Baker (British Council)


The course will explore issues of communicating the nature and development of biological sciences, using perspectives drawn from history, philosophy and societal study.

COURSE TEXT: Selected readings

 

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Application Form

 

Each member will receive the course texts for the lecture courses. In addition to the courses, there will be smaller Reading Groups and an informal Common Room. Members must attend all required instruction and submit an examination essay at the end of the session.

 

The fee for members from outside Mainland China is US$ 240.00 or RMB Y1500.00. The fee for those accepted as auditors from outside Mainland China is US$750.00 or RMB Y750.00.

 

Members and auditors must arrange their own transport to Chongqing and pay for accommodation and meals at Southwest University, Chongqing.

 

Please send your completed application form to arrive by post or email to

Dr. Ma Xinjing

Institute of Philosophy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

5 Jianguomennei Dajie

BEIJING 100732 CHINA

 

E-mail: maxinjing99@163.com

       

The deadline for application is 20 May 2011.

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PHILOSOPHY SUMMER SCHOOL IN CHINA

2011 SESSION: PHILOSOPHY OF BIOLOGY

SOUTHWEST UNIVERSITY, CHONGQING

25 July-14 August 2011

 

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