Project News

April 12
BioScience viewpoint: organizing interdisciplinary research on purpose

The April 2022 issue of BioScience features the viewpoint article “Organizing Interdisciplinary Research on Purpose” by project PI Alan Love and postdoc Max Dresow!

April 6
A New Paradigm for Cancer?

Professor Anya Plutynski’s recent review of the new book Rethinking Cancer: A New Paradigm for the Postgenomic Era is available online in Biological Theory. She finds that “there is much to chew over, of wider relevance to philosophers of science and medicine, whether their interests are in the nature of the world, or how we come to know it.” Professor Plutynski is the coordinator of the Agency and Directionality in Development cluster of Agency, Directionality and Function projects.

April 4
Environment as abstraction

Denis Walsh, coordinator of the Agential Behavior and Plasticity in Evolution cluster of Purpose Projects, published “Environment as Abstraction” in Biological Theory. “The concept of the environment appears to be indispensably involved in adaptive explanation. Quite what its role is, however, is a matter of some dispute. I argue that the environment takes its place in evolutionary models not as a discrete causal entity, but as an abstraction.”

March 29
New seminar series!

The History, Philosophy and Biology Teaching Lab (LEFHBio), associated with the Institute of Biology/ Federal University of Bahia and the National Institute of Science and Technology in Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Studies in Ecology and Evolution (INCT IN-TREE), Brazil, would like to publicize its seminar cycle, initiated in this year of 2022, with invited researchers from the fields of Research in Science Education, Philosophy of Biology, Ecology, Evolution and other areas of the Biological Sciences, as well as with social movements and community leaders.


The seminars will take place monthly, always on a Tuesday 10:00 AM BRT, using Zoom. Each seminar will have a maximum audience of 100 participants, based on order of access.

An abstract for the first talk and a short biography of the speaker are available here. Details of forthcoming seminars are below.


1. April 12th 2022, 10:00 AM BRT: Students’ “teleological misconceptions” in evolution education: why the underlying design stance, not teleology per se, is the problem by Kostas Kampourakis (University of Geneva, Section of Biology and University Teacher Training Institute, Switzerland). Language: English

Zoom link:


2. May 24th 2022, 10:00AM BRT: Matriz compreensiva da educação científica com uma abordagem intercultural (A broad matrix of science education with an intercultural approach) by Adela Molina (Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas, Colombia). Language: Spanish


3. June 7th 2022, 10:00AM BRT: How should we think scientifically about biological objects? By Maël Montévil (École Normale Supérieure, Paris, France). Language: English

March 24
The evolution of biogeochemical recycling by persistence-based selection

Two members of the “Chance versus purpose in the evolution of biospheres” project, Richard Boyle and Timothy Lenton, recently published “The evolution of biogeochemical recycling by persistence-based selection” in Communications Earth & Environment. “We present an evolutionary trajectory plausibly representative of aspects of Precambrian biogeochemical cycles, involving persistence-based selection for recycling via fluctuations in abiotic boundary conditions and strong genetic drift. We illustrate how self-perpetuating life-environment correlation patterns, as opposed to specific state-values, may help empirically distinguish “It’s-the-song-not-the-singer” from conventional Earth-system feedbacks.”