“Fitness Meets Niche Construction and Symbiosis”, Institute of Philosophy, Jagiellonian University, Kraków 2019



The term  fitness is used very often in evolutionary biology and plays a central role in  the  theory of evolution. However,  for  decades , the status of this concept has been debated , and  many questions have been raised by  philosophers and biologists alike . What is the definition  of fitness? What does being fitter really mean, in scientific terms ? How  can fitness be  measured ? In  recent years , new ideas  have  emerged within the scientific community  which  might shed some new light on our understanding of fitness. However, their  relationship to  the  debate concerning fitness still need s to be established.  Two things , among many others,  are  particularly  worth mentioning here : first , the theory of niche construction ,  which invites us to  think of  an  environment  not  as  being  granted  to  organisms , but  as  created by them . Thus this  theory  transforms our understanding of environments, a concept which  figures  frequently  in  fitness literature. Second , microbiology teaches us that plants and animals interact with many  symbiotic microorganisms.  Moreover,  these  microbes exert  a  major impact on  the fitness of  these plants and animals ,  thus expanding our knowledge of the factors that determine  fitness. The question is  whether – and  if so,  how – these discoveries influence the debate concerning  fitness. The aim of the workshop is  to  explore this question.

Keynote Speaker:

Lynn Chiu is a philosopher of biology  affiliated with the ImmunoConcept Lab of  the  University of Bordeaux/CNRS , which operates  at the intersection of  biology and philosophy.  Her past research and current interest s concern many important problems  found at the frontiers of  the  philosophy of biology,  such as  the  philosophy of perception, niche  construction,  symbiosis , and biological individuality.  Learn more about Lynn here : https://sites.google.com/view/lynnchiu/

Program (click to enlargen)


General Information

Organizers: Institute of Philosophy, Jagiellonian University
Coordinator: Adrian Stencel

Who can apply?

Philosophers, biologists, medical doctors, and any other scholars, at any point in their career,  who are interested in this subject .

Where  and  when  will  the workshop  be held ?

In  Kraków,  6th and 7th of  June 2019 .

How to apply?

Send  an  abstract (max imum 500 words) before 31 March 2019 to:  philbio.workshops@gmail.com
All decision s will be made  prior to 30 April  2019 .


This workshop is supported by


Jacob Stegenga, Visiting Scholar in ImmunoConcept lab

Jacob Stegenga will be an IDEX Visiting Scholar in Thomas Pradeu’s group at ImmunoConcept from October 2018 to June 2019.
Jacob is a University Lecturer in philosophy of science at the University of Cambridge (Department of History and Philosophy of Science). His research focuses on methodological problems of medical research, conceptual questions in evolutionary biology, and fundamental topics in reasoning and rationality. Stegenga’s present work is culminating in a book titled Medical Nihilism (Oxford University Press, 2018), in which he argues that if we attend to the extent of bias in medical research, the thin theoretical basis of many interventions, the malleability of empirical methods in medicine, and if we employ our best inductive framework, then our confidence in medical interventions ought to be low. His research employs empirical findings, analysis, and formal methods to establish normative conclusions about science.

Before going to Cambridge, Stegenga taught at University of Utah and University of Victoria, and was a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Toronto. He received his PhD from the University of California San Diego.

Research interests
Philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, philosophy of medicine

Selected publications
For a complete list of publications, please see Jacob’s Academia.edu site.
Medical Nihilism, Oxford University Press, 2018
Care and Cure: An Introduction to Philosophy of Medicine, University of Chicago Press, 2018
‘Three Arguments for Absolute Outcome Measures’ (with Jan Sprenger), forthcoming, Philosophy of Science
‘Population Pluralism and Natural Selection’, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 2016 67: 1–29
‘Measuring Effectiveness’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 2015 54: 62–71
‘Probabilizing the End’, Philosophical Studies 2013 165: 95–112
‘Is Meta-Analysis the Platinum Standard of Evidence?’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 2011 42: 497–507

2017 Callebaut Prize for Lynn Chiu

See ISHPSSB website
The Callebaut Prize was established in 2015, and is awarded every two years. It is intended to advance the careers of recent graduates working at the intersection of the fields represented by ISHPSSB by recognizing the best manuscript utilizing an interdisciplinary approach based on a presentation at one of the two previous ISH meetings by someone who was, at the time of presentation, a graduate student. The prize is named in honor of Werner Callebaut, whose untimely death in 2014 was mourned by the philosophy of biology community worldwide and particularly ISH members, and who made considerable contributions to the promotion of constructive dialogue and reciprocal respect in philosophical and scientific work, hence making a prize focused on interdisciplinarity most appropriate.
We are grateful to individual donors who have supported this prize, as well as to the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI) for support for the first three prizes.
For the 2017 Prize, the Prize Committee received 4 submissions. All were of very high quality, with several already published or accepted for publication. The Committee was struck by the diverse interpretations of interdisciplinarity represented, and the importance of ISH to graduate students due to its support for interdisciplinary research, as was frequently noted in the cover letters provided by the applicants.
This year’s Werner Callebaut Prize is awarded to Lynn Chiu for her paper “The Birth of the Holobiont,” which was presented at the 2015 ISHPSSB meeting in Montréal. A revised version of the paper, co-authored with Scott Gilbert, was published in the journal Biosemiotics in 2015. The paper has already received an award from this journal, which remarked on its interdisciplinarity and uniqueness as a collaboration between a senior scientist and a junior philosopher. Dr. Chiu completed her PhD at the University of Missouri in 2015, and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the ImmunoConcept Lab at the University of Bordeaux/CNRS.
Lynn Chiu and Scott Gilbert
Drawing on recent philosophy of biology literature and on rich biological literature, this paper proposes a new “birth narrative” based on the view that humans are not monogenetic multicellular organisms but rather “holobionts,” that is, eukaryotes composed of multiple symbionts. This paper stood out both because of the clarity and stringent organization of its argument and its timely topic, but also because it makes a genuine intellectual contribution to the field. Much of the work in applied philosophy of science or integrated HPS is unidirectional: scientific episodes serve to illustrate or test philosophical conceptions, or else outstanding scientific achievements are explored in the hopes of generating new philosophical ideas. Such work is typically done to contribute to and advance the philosophy of science.
But the committee agreed that in this paper we have truly interdisciplinary work: the application of concepts from philosophy of biology and cognitive science (the situated cognition and bounded rationality literature) to a scientific conception adds something both to the scientific discussion of human reproduction and to philosophical discussions about individuals, evolution, and development as well as having interesting implications for the historiography of immunology and bacteriology.
Lynn recounted to the committee that she was particularly honored to apply for this prize since Werner Callebaut literally made this paper possible. She wrote: “The last time I saw Werner was at the 2015 EuroEvoDevo in Vienna. He had encouraged me to submit a (different) philosophical paper to a purely scientific session… And there I was, finding myself presenting to no one else but my college science hero developmental biologist Scott Gilbert, who invited me to have a chat during coffee break. As we talked sitting on the branches of a big tree outside, Werner passed by and, delighted by what he saw, snapped a photo of us. We then said our goodbyes. About two weeks later, Werner sent both Scott and I an email with our photo, with lovely comments about our conversations… in his response to Werner’s email, Scott invited me to write a paper together. I am immensely grateful that Werner witnessed this paper take shape and read it up to its penultimate draft.”
On behalf of ISHPSSB, I am pleased to award the 2017 Callebaut Prize to Lynn Chiu.
Rachel A. Ankeny (Chair), on behalf of the rest of the Callebaut Prize Committee:
Alan Love, Edna Suárez Díaz, Marta Halina, Pierre-Olivier Méthot, and Jutta Schickore.



Werner Callebaut Prize
Marjorie Grene Prize
David L. Hull Prize

Hull Prize

2017 Hull Prize citation for Richard Burian
2015 Hull Prize citation for Jane Maienschein

Grene Prize

2017 Grene Prize citation for Emily C. Parke
2013 Grene Prize citation for Lukas Rieppel and John Matthewson
2015 Grene Prize citation for Jun Otsuka

Callebaut Prize

2017 Callebaut Prize citation for Lynn Chiu
2015 Callebaut Prize citation for Sara Green

Sabina Leonelli on The Epistemology of Data Use


The Epistemology of Data Use: Conditions for Inferential Reasoning in the Age of Big Data Science
Sabina Leonelli (University of Exeter, UK)
Dec 1st, 2017
Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh (USA)
ABSTRACT: This talk examines the epistemology of data by addressing the challenges raised by ‘big data science’, and particularly the dissemination and re-use of large datasets via intricate and nested infrastructures such as digital databases. Empirically, my analysis is grounded on the in-depth qualitative study of “data journeys”, that is ways in which datasets are circulated and used for a variety of purposes across several different contexts. Conceptually, the talk brings my previous work on the relational nature of data to bear on existing philosophy of inductive reasoning and the triangulation of multiple lines of evidence (most prominently by John Norton, Alison Wylie and William Wimsatt), with the aim of outlining conditions under which big data can be used to reliably inform inferential reasoning. I conclude by highlighting five ways in which data science that fails to operate under such conditions could significantly damage scientific methods and the credibility of research outputs.

PhilInBioMed joins the EASPLS!

The Institute for Philosophy in Biology and Medicine joins the European Advanced Seminar in the Philosophy of the Life (EASPLS).
The EASPLS gathers the following institutions:

Centre for the Study of Life Sciences, University of Exeter
IAS-Research Center for Life, Mind & Society, University of the Basque Country, San Sebastian
Institut d’Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences et des Techniques (IHPST) Paris-1 Sorbonne
Institute of Philosophy, Leibniz University Hannover
Faculty of Sciences and Department of Philosophy/Faculty of Humanities, University of Geneva
KLI (Klosterneuburg/Vienna)
PhilInBioMed (CNRS & University of Bordeaux)

The next EASPLS meeting will be held at the Konrad Lorenz institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI), Klosterneuburg (Austria), September 10-14, 2018.