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Biological Interest Group

Meeting time: Friday mornings throughout the semester at 10:15–11:30 am.
Meeting place: Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science library,
737 Heller Hall.

The biological interest group (BIG) reads and discusses works of mutual interest in the history and philosophy of biology. We select readings for a variety of reasons: to keep up on the most exciting developments in the field, to help participants scrutinize literature relevant to their research projects (faculty or graduate student research), to provide feedback on works in progress being written by BIG participants (graduate students, faculty, and Center visitors), to revisit classic articles in the literature, and sometimes just to have fun discussing a topic related to biology.

Our meetings are informal and some participants need to arrive late or leave early because of scheduling conflicts. All faculty from the University of Minnesota and area colleges and universities and graduate students are welcome to attend whenever they would like (without invitation) and without giving advanced notice. Undergraduates are included by invitation. (If you know of an undergraduate who is well-suited and possibly interested, please contact Alan Love so an invitation can be extended.)

Spring 2016

January 22, 1:30 pm:

***Note change of time for this week***
Suan Wolf (Univeristy of Minnesota Law School) will be visiting.
Wolf, S.M., W. Burke, and B.A. Koenig. 2015. Mapping the ethics of translational genomics: situating return of results and navigating the research-clinical divide. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics (Fall 2015): 486–501. (pdf)
Wolf, S.M., et al. 2015. Returning a research participant’s genomic results to relatives: analysis and recommendations. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics (Fall 2015): 440–463. (pdf)

January 29: Diaz, S. et al. 2016. "The global spectrum of plant form and function" Nature 529:167–171 (plus Supplementary Info) (pdf)

February 5: Manning, G. 2015. "Descartes's metaphysical biology". HOPOS: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 5(2): 209–239. (pdf)

February 12: Sterner, B. 2015."Pathways to pluralism about biological individuality". Biology & Philosophy 30: 609–628. (pdf)

February 19: BIG is canceled due to the Philosophy of Biology Symposium at the University of Minnesota Morris.

February 26: Gilbert, S.F., J. Sapp, and A.I. Tauber. 2012." A symbiotic view of life: we have never been individuals" The Quarterly Review of Biology 87(4):325-341. (pdf)

March 4: Moran, N. and D.B. Sloan. 2015. "The hologenome concept: helpful or hollow?" PLoS Biology 13(12): e1002311.

March 25: Lewontin, R. 1974. "The analysis of variance and the analysis of causes" American Journal of Human Genetics 26:400-411. (pdf)
Bruce Glymour (Kansas State University) will be visiting.

April 1: Burnham, T.C., A. Dunlap, and D.W. Stephens. 2015. "Experimental evolution and economics" SAGE Open:1-17. (
Terry Burnham (Chapman University) will be visiting.

April 8: Okasha, S. 2008. "Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection—A Philosophical Analysis" British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59:319-351. (pdf)

April 15: Harman, O. 2012. "Is the naturalistic fallacy dead (and if so, ought it be?)" Journal of the History of Biology 45:557–572. (pdf)
Oren Harman (Bar-Ilan University) will be visiting.

April 22: No Meeting

April 29: Kitcher, P. (manuscript) "Evolution and ethical life" (pdf).
Philip Kitcher
(Columbia University) will be visiting.

May 6: Green, S. 2015. Revisiting generality in biology: systems biology and the quest for design principles. Biology & Philosophy 30:629–652 (pdf).


Fall 2015

September 11: Deans, C. and K.A. Maggert. 2015. What do you mean, “epigenetic”? Genetics 199: 887–896.

September 18: Sarkar, S. 2015. The genomic challenge to adaptationism. British Journal for Philosophy of Science 66: 505–536.

September 25: Ritchie, M.D. et al. 2015. Methods of integrating data to uncover genotype–phenotype interactions. Nature Reviews Genetics 16: 85-97.

October 2: Open Science Collaboration. 2015. Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science. Science 349: aac4716 (doi:10.1126/science.aac4716);
Parker, T.H. and S. Nakagawa. 2014. Mitigating the epidemic of type I error: ecology and evolution can learn from other disciplines. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 2: 1-3 (doi: 10.3389/fevo.2014.00076).

October 9: Laland, K.N. et al. 2015. The extended evolutionary synthesis: its structure, assumptions and predictions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Biological Sciences 282: 20151019.

October 16: Winther, R.G., Giordano, R., Edge, M.D. and Nielsen, R. 2015. The mind, the lab, and the field: Three kinds of populations in scientific practice. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.

October 23: Birch, J. and S. Okasha. 2015. Kin selection and its critics. Bioscience 65: 22–32.

October 30: Eronen, M.I. 2015. Levels of organization: a deflationary account. Biology & Philosophy 30: 39–58.

November 6: Hoel, E.P. et al. 2013. Quantifying causal emergence shows that macro can beat micro. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 110: 19790–19795.

November 13: Orgogozo V. 2015. Replaying the tape of life in the twenty-first century. Interface Focus 5: 20150057.

November 20: James Justus (Florida State University) will be visiting.
Colyvan, M. and Ginzburg, L. 2010. Analogical Thinking in Ecology: Looking beyond Disciplinary Boundaries. Quarterly Review of Biology 85:171–182.

November 27: No meeting Thanksgiving

December 4: Jenner, R.A. 2014. Macroevolution of animal body plans: Is there science after the tree? Bioscience 64: 653–664.

December 11: Waldor, M.K. et al. 2015. Where next for microbiome research? PLoS Biology 13: e1002050
Dubilier et al. 2015. Microbiology: Create a global microbiome effort. Nature 526: 631–634
Alivasatos et al. 2015. A unified initiative to harness Earth's microbiomes. Science 350: 507–508.

Previous BIG discussion topics

For more information: contact Janet McKernan or Alan Love

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