Project News

January 26
Applications open for visiting professor in UFBA, Brazil

The opportunity is for at least one year as a Visiting Professor and can extend up to four years. The deadline is 4 February 2022. We are especially interested in colleagues who would like to join us at the Institute of Biology in UFBA, and even more especially in a colleague interested in working on ecological functions from an organizational point of view. Subaward PI Charbel El-Hani's project "Toward a science of intrinsic purposiveness: an organizational account of ecological functions and its implications to ecological research and environmental ethics" is part of the Higher-Level Agency and Directionality in Ecology and Earth Science cluster in the Agency, Directionality and Function project. Additional information is available here.

January 20
Co-option of stress mechanisms in the origin of evolutionary novelties

PI Alan Love and Scientific Board of Advisors member Günter Wagner recently published “Co-option of stress mechanisms in the origin of evolutionary novelties” in the International Journal of Organic Evolution. “Through scrutiny of different meanings of stress in biological research, and an explicit recognition that stressors must be characterized relative to their effect on capacities for maintaining functional integrity, we distinguish between: (1) previously identified stress-responsive mechanisms that facilitate evolution by maintaining an adaptive fit with the environment, and (2) the co-option of stress-responsive mechanisms that are specific to stressors leading to the origin of novelties via compensation.”

January 18
What’s the point? A presentist social functionalist account of institutional purpose

Armin Schulz, a philosopher of the biological, cognitive and social sciences at the University of Kansas and coordinator for the “Modeling Agency Formally” cluster, recently published the paper "What’s the Point? A Presentist Social Functionalist Account of Institutional Purpose?" in the journal Philosophy of the Social Sciences. The paper provides a new model of the function of social institutions - one based on what confers them increased chances of survival or reproduction in their current social environment. The author argues that this new model is fruitful for making clearer the kinds of data that are helpful to determine the function of social institutions, for bringing up hitherto overlooked theoretical possibilities, and for allowing for the clearer assessment and handling of corporate corruption.

January 12
Sources of natural purpose in animal evolution

Professor of cell biology and anatomy at New York Medical College Stuart Newman’s latest pre-print, “Form, Function, Agency: Sources of Natural Purpose in Animal Evolution,” is now available in EcoEvo. He is the PI for the “Cellular agency in multicellular development and cancer” project.

January 10
Theoretical syntheses in ecology

On December 17, 2021, Charbel N. El-Hani, from the subaward "Toward a science of intrinsic purposiveness: an organizational account of ecological functions and its implications to ecological research and environmental ethics," published with colleagues  a new paper in PLOS One, which presents a pragmatic approach for producing theoretical syntheses in ecology. This paper is a sequel to a previous one in Oikos, in which the authors elaborated on a pragmatic view of ecological theories.