Participants

Participant Group
Christopher Austin

Christopher Austin

Cluster:
(Re)Conceptualizing Function and Goal-Directedness
Project:
Mistakes in living systems: a new conceptual framework

Dr. Christopher J. Austin's research specialization is in Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science, with a particular focus on ontology, modality, and causation in the context of evolutionary developmental biology. He has written on a diverse range of topics including natural kind theory, process ontology, mechanistic explanation, information theory, structuralism, dispositional causation, persistence and identity, truthmaking theory, biological essentialism, and dynamical systems theory. He is the author of Essence In the Age of Evolution: A New Theory of Natural Kinds (Routledge), as well as a number of chapters in edited volumes including Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Contemporary Science (Routledge) and Evolutionary Developmental Biology: A Reference Guide (Springer). His work has been published in a wide range of philosophical journals including Synthese, Analysis, The European Journal for Philosophy of Science, Biology and Philosophy, Ratio, and Metascience.

Ingo Bojak

Ingo Bojak

Cluster:
(Re)Conceptualizing Function and Goal-Directedness
Project:
Mistakes in living systems: a new conceptual framework

I am a theoretical physicist by training but have worked as a computational neuroscientist for the last two decades, being particularly interested in modelling the collective activity of neurons. For applications, I have focused on general anesthesia, brain connectivity, multimodal neuroimaging, and advanced data analysis. I have recently started working on projects in computational psychology, e.g., reinforcement learning. Privately, I have maintained an active interest in philosophy, in particular in Aristotelian metaphysics. My work has been interdisciplinary in nature, and I have worked in physics, (bio)engineering, medical neuroscience, and psychology in Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, and now the UK. I am currently a Professor in the School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading, and its Deputy Head. In our project I will be responsible for turning our philosophical ideas into computational structures that can deal with empirical data.

James DiFrisco

James DiFrisco

Cluster:
(Re)Conceptualizing Function and Goal-Directedness
Role:
Cluster Coordinator
Institution:
KU Leuven

James DiFrisco is a researcher at KU Leuven (Belgium). His work has focused on general issues in biological theory and philosophy of biology such as homology, individuality, functions, and levels of organization. Recent projects include a broad investigation of the constructive conceptual role of dynamical systems theory in evolutionary-developmental biology ("Hierarchical evolution of dynamical systems"). Currently he is working on a project on the individuation of biological characters entitled "Character individuation in development and evolution."

Justin Garson

Justin Garson

Cluster:
(Re)Conceptualizing Function and Goal-Directedness, Agential Behavior and Plasticity in Evolution
Project:
Putting representations back into goal-directedness
Role:
Subaward Principal Investigator

Justin Garson is Professor of Philosophy at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the author of Madness: A Philosophical Exploration (Oxford, 2022), What Biological Functions Are and Why They Matter (Cambridge, 2019), A Critical Overview of Biological Functions (Springer, 2016), and The Biological Mind: A Philosophical Introduction (Routledge, 2015; second edition 2022). His main interest is thinking about teleology in the life sciences and developing its implications for debates in the philosophy of mind, medicine, and psychiatry. His aim for the John Templeton Foundation Science of Purpose Initiative is to explain goal-directedness in living creatures in terms of their capacity to make and use inner representations. In this way, he seeks to place the study of goal-directedness within the context of naturalistic, evolutionary accounts of representation.

Jon Gibbins

Jon Gibbins

Cluster:
(Re)Conceptualizing Function and Goal-Directedness
Project:
Mistakes in living systems: a new conceptual framework

Jon Gibbins is Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Reading, UK, where he is Director of the Institute for Cardiovascular & Metabolic Research. He has spent the last 25 years figuring out how blood clotting is controlled, how and why this is may occur in disease, and how the blood cells that trigger this process, platelets, might be controlled to prevent heart attacks and strokes. This work involves a combination of cell and molecular biology, through models of disease, to clinical studies with patients. Jon’s work has led to the discovery of new systems of blood cell regulation and the development of new therapies to combat thrombotic disease. In this study Jon will be responsible for exploring and testing our philosophical ideas with data from the study of platelets – a relatively simple biological system with plenty of scope for mistake making with substantial physiological consequence.

Mary Guzowski

Mary Guzowski

Cluster:
(Re)Conceptualizing Function and Goal-Directedness
Project:
‘Function’ in biology and bio-inspired design

Mary Guzowski is a Professor in the School of Architecture where she teaches and conducts research related to daylighting, solar, biophilic, and sustainable design. Her publications include the books Art of Architectural Daylighting, Towards Zero Energy Architecture: New Solar Design, and Daylighting for Sustainable Design, a variety of web-based design resources, and professional articles. She chaired the development of MS Sustainable Design Program in the School of Architecture, was a co-author of the first edition of the Minnesota Sustainable Design Guide (with John Carmody), and the Carbon Neutral Design Project (with Jim Wasley and Terri Boake). Her current research is focused on biophilic and bio-inspired approaches to daylighting and architectural design. Mary has received awards for design education from the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment, American Institute of Architects Minnesota, and the Associated Collegiate Schools of Architecture.

Headshot of Johathan Hill

Jonathan Hill

Cluster:
(Re)Conceptualizing Function and Goal-Directedness
Project:
Mistakes in living systems: a new conceptual framework

I am Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Professorial Research Fellow in Philosophy, at the University of Reading, UK. I am also a practising psychiatrist in the UK NHS. As a clinician, and a researcher into developmental processes in psychopathology, it has seemed to me that there are important and still unresolved questions regarding causal processes in the behavioural sciences and mental disorder. In ‘Mind, Meaning and Mental Disorder’, written with Derek Bolton, I sought to show how these questions can be addressed by starting with an examination of causal processes throughout biology, which have the illuminating and intrinsically linked properties of directedness and mistake-proneness. In this project, I will work with philosophical colleagues to further develop and scrutinise these, and allied ideas, in light of current philosophical controversies. Then working with colleagues in relevant empirical disciplines, we will use these ideas to generate and test novel scientific hypotheses.

Maël Montévil

Maël Montévil

Cluster:
Agency and Directionality in Development, (Re)Conceptualizing Function and Goal-Directedness, Higher-Level Agency and Directionality in Ecology and Earth Science
Project:
An organizational account of ecological functions, Intrinsic purposiveness and the shaping of development, Open-ended evolution and organizational closure

Maël Montévil is chargé de recherche in CNRS, in République des savoirs, USR 3608, École Normale Supérieure. He is a theoretical biologist working at the crossroad of experimental biology, mathematics, and philosophy. He developed the framework of constraints closure and theorized biological historicity and its implications for theory and modelization with which to study current issues such as endocrine disruptors and, more generally, anthropocene's disruptions and our response to them. Montévil is the author of more than twenty-five peer-reviewed articles and a monograph with Giuseppe Longo: Perspectives on organisms.