Causality issues in philosophy of evolutionary biology

Research seminar coordinated by Dr. Ciprian Jeler (Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities, University of Bucharest)

This seminar will focus on the role that the notion of causality plays in recent debates in philosophy of evolutionary biology. Its starting point is the simple factual observation that this particular notion surfaces in quite prominent positions in most contemporary debates about various aspects of evolutionary theory. We can therefore track this notion in quite different contexts like: the debate on whether natural selection can be considered a cause of evolutionary change or whether it is merely a statistical effect of processes taking place at other levels; the discussions – associated with the previous debate – about the appropriate notion of “fitness” for the theory of natural selection; the attempts to determine the importance of interactions between individuals in defining the notion of “biological population”; the debates regarding the causal contributions to evolutionary change of selection processes taking place at multiple levels of biological organization etc. By proposing analyses of some key texts in the field, this seminar intends to clarify, at least in part, the significance of this notion in each of these debates. Furthermore, a deeper objective is that of trying to determine whether there might be a common, underlying reason that could explain why many of the central concepts of evolutionary biology seem to need, today, to be measured against the concept of causality.

The seminar is open to young researchers at any level. If you wish to participate, please contact All meetings will be held at the Institute for Research in the Humanities.


Thursday, 15.10, 18h00: Roberta Millstein, 2010, ‘The concepts of population and metapopulation in evolutionary biology and ecology’. In M. A. Bell, D. J. Futuyma, W. F. Eanes & J. S. Levinton (eds.), Evolution Since Darwin: The First 150 Years,  Sunderland,  MA: Sinauer, pp. 61-85.

Thursday, 29.10, 18h00: John Matthewson, 2015, ‘Defining Paradigm Darwinian Populations’. Philosophy of Science, 82(2), pp. 178-197.