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Ingo Brigandt
University of Alberta, Canada
Fall Term 2014
Standards, Aims, and Values: An Account of Explanation in Biology

Ingo Brigandt is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alberta. He studies scientific practice in molecular, developmental, and evolutionary biology, with a special focus on conceptual change, explanation, and interdisciplinarity. His most recent interests are systems biology and the interaction of science and social values. At the Center for Philosophy of Science, Ingo will take the first step toward a book manuscript, which is to develop a theme that has been implicitly underlying his articles on various philosophical or biological issues. The leading idea is that in addition to various representations of nature (e.g., data, explanations, and theories), one needs to actively study scientists’ values, including methodological and explanatory standards, scientific aims, and problems deemed in need of investigation. Such values, including epistemic as well as social values, are relevant to understanding and evaluating scientific practice; and his project sets out to illustrate this with case studies from different areas of the biological sciences.


In October 2014, while I was at the Center, it was publicly announced that I have been appointed a Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Biology (as of April 2014, at the University of Alberta).

Recent publications:

in review, “How the difference between explanation and argument matters to science education.” Science & Education.

2015, “Evolutionary developmental biology and the limits of philosophical accounts of mechanistic explanation.” In: Explanation in Biology: An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences. P.-A. Braillard and C. Malaterre (eds), Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 135–173.
2014, “Multilevel research strategies and biological systems” (second author, with Maureen A. O’Malley, Alan C. Love, John W. Crawford, Jack A. Gilbert, Rob Knight, Sandra D. Mitchell, and Forest Rohwer). Philosophy of Science 81: 811–828.

Conference presentations directly growing out my research project at the Center are two upcoming talks in two sessions at the July 2015 meeting of the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology. These are a session together with 2014­–2015 Center fellows William Bechtel and Sara Green on ‘Modeling in systems biology: simplicity versus completeness,’ and a double session on ‘Social and epistemic values in evolution.’


Recent publications:
accepted, “Systems biology and mechanistic explanation” (with Sara Green and Maureen A. O'Malley). To appear in: The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy. S. Glennan and P. Illari (eds), Routledge, New York.
in press, “Philosophical dimensions of individuality” (second author, with Alan C. Love). In: Biological Individuality: Integrating Scientific, Philosophical, and Historical Perspectives. S. Lidgard and L. K. Nyhart (eds), University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
2016, “Why the difference between explanation and argument matters to science education.” Science & Education 25: 251–275.
2016, “Do we need a 'theory' of development?” Review essay of Towards a Theory of Development edited by Alessandro Minelli and Thomas Pradeu, Oxford University Press, 2014. Biology & Philosophy 31: 603–617.
2015, “Social values influence the adequacy conditions of scientific theories: beyond inductive risk.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45: 326–356.





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