Franklin & Marshall College will host the Philosophy, the Life Sciences and Society conference March 27-28. This conference will bring together scholars from philosophy and the life sciences to discuss topics at the intersection of philosophy and biology.
The conference is co-sponsored by the Center for Liberal Arts and Society, the Bonchek Institute for Reason and Science in a Liberal Democracy, the Departments of Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind, Philosophy and Biology, and the Bonchek College House and is free and open to the public. All events will take place in the Bonchek Lecture Hall, Barshinger Life Sciences and Philosophy Building.
The schedule of events, topics and speakers is as follows:
Friday, March 27, 4:30 p.m.
John Dupre, Professor of Philosophy Science at the University of Exeter and Director of the ERSC Center for Genomics in Society
A starting point for this talk is the belief that respect for Darwin as a scientist should lead us to abandon the occasionally fundamentalist attitudes to his writings. Darwin made fundamental contributions to biology, but did so in the context of a science which, in part due to his contributions, has moved a long way in the last 150 years. The explosion of genomics-based science in the last few decades has had a particularly powerful impact on our understanding of evolution. Specifically I shall look at three issues: is the tree of life still a useful image in view of what we now know about the lateral flow of genes?; has an excessive concern with competition led us to underplay the importance to evolution of cooperation?; and should we moderate the neo-Darwinian antipathy to Lamarckian elements in our view of evolution?
Saturday, March 28, 10 a.m.
"When Socially Determined Categories Make Biological Realities: Understanding Black/White Health Disparities in the U.S."
Jonathan Kaplan, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Oregon State University
Contrary to popular belief, researchers have discovered evidence to support that it is possible that population-level genetic differences between broad populations may align well with "folk" racial categories to explain the long-standing health disparities between White and Black Americans. Thus, researchers now call for medicine to account for race when developing drugs and treatments, so genetic needs are tailored to and met. Kaplan will discuss the important biological reality that corresponds to the social categories of folk racial groups, namely, those health disparities created and maintained by widespread racism.
Saturday, March 28, 2 p.m.
"Social Values and Scientific Evidence"
Inmaculada De Melo-Martin, Associate Professor in the Division of Medical Ethics at Weill Medical College of Cornell University
How do the social aims of research factor into justifying decisions about research problems? De Melo-Martin will discuss social goals in drug development, the standards of evidence used in testing drug "success," and in clinical trial methodology. She will use the new HPV vaccine to illustrate these claims.
Saturday, March 28, 4 p.m.
"Deploying Highly Idealized Models"
Michael Weisberg, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania
One way of explaining and making predictions about highly complex phenomena is by modeling: the indirect examination and analysis of real-world phenomena via a model. Because these phenomena are so complex, explanations and predictions of them often require the construction of multiple, highly idealized, models. From the point of view of logic and philosophy of science, this practice looks rather peculiar, because theories and explanations are supposed to be unitary. Yet the strategy has been enormously successful in chemistry, biology, and the social sciences and this paper attempts to explain how and why this is the case.
JOHN DUPRE, Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Exeter and Director of the ESRC Center for Genomics in Society. His recent book publications are Value-Free Science: Ideal or Illusion (Oxford 2