Philosophy of Biology

Raj Patel

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Contact Information
Email address: 

I'm a PhD student in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA. I received an MPhil in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge in the UK in 2014. Before that, I worked at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C. on issues relating to privacy and security, amongst other things.

Research Interests: 

History and Philosophy of Science and Technology

Political Philosophy

Previous Degrees: 

MPhil, University of Cambridge (2014)

Publications: 
  • Santana, C., Patel, R., Chang, S., & Weisberg, M. (forthcoming). When is the spread of a cultural trait due to cultural group selection? The case of religious syncretism. Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Non-academic publications

Presentations: 
  • Raj Patel (September 2015) “The natural and the social in the metrics of justice” Human Development and Capabilities Association (HDCA) 2015 Annual Conference, Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.)
  • Raj Patel (May 2015) “Ontic structural realism and economics: the unwanted gift” History and Philosophy of Science Workshop, Department of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Raj Patel (November 2014) “Dystopia in the city: what does economics have to do with it?” Abiding Cities Remnant Sites, The Graduate Center, CUNY (New York, NY)
  • Raj Patel (May 2014) “Neuroprediction and the law” Darwin Humanities and Social Sciences Seminar, Darwin College, University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK) 
Awards: 
  • Human Development and Capabilities Association Scholarship, 2015
  • President Gutmann Leadership Award, 2015
  • Benjamin Franklin Fellowship, 2014 - 2019

Quayshawn Spencer

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Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Ph.D., Stanford (philosophy)
M.S., Stanford (biology)
B.A., Cornell (chemistry & philosophy)
Contact Information
Phone: 
215-573-5120
Email address: 
Office Location: 
Cohen Hall, room 464
Office Hours: 
by appointment
Research Interests: 

Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Biology, Philosophy of Race

Selected Publications: 

1. Spencer, Q. (2015). Philosophy of Race Meets Population Genetics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (in press).

2. Spencer, Q. (2014). A Radical Solution to the Race Problem. Philosophy of Science 81(5): 1025-1038.

3. Spencer, Q. (2014). The Unnatural Racial Naturalism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 46: 38-43.

4. Spencer, Q. (2013). Biological Theory and the Metaphysics of Race: A Reply to Kaplan and Winther. Biological Theory 8(1): 114-120.

5. Spencer, Q. (2012). What 'Biological Racial Realism' Should Mean. Philosophical Studies 159(2): 181-204.

Alkistis Elliott-Graves

[image of Alkistis Elliott-Graves]
Contact Information
Email address: 
Dissertation Title: 
Target Systems and their Role in Scientific Inquiry
Research Interests: 

Philosophy of Science (Concepts and Methodology in Modeling, Target Systems, Ecology)

Philosophy of Biology 

Philosophy of the Social Sciences

Previous Degrees: 

MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences, London School of Economics and Political Science

B.A. European Social and Political Studies, University College London

Publications: 

'Idealization' with M.Weisberg. Forthcoming in Philosophy Compass

Presentations: 

"What is the Target of a Generalized Model?" ISHBSSB 2013 Montpellier

"Abstract and Complete" PSA 2012 San Diego 

"Abstraction and Conceptualization in Invasive Species Research" ISHPSSB 2011 Salt Lake City

"Is Ecological Inheritance necessary for Niche Construction?" Integrating Complexity 2010 London Ontario

"Why early humans did not think deductively", ISHPSSB 2009 Brisbane

Awards: 

Benjamin Franklin Fellowship 2008-2012

George W.M. Bacon Fellow 2012-2013

Critical Writing Fellowship 2013-2014

Advisors: 

Supervisor: Michael Weisberg

Committee: Christina Bicchieri, Dan Singer, Zoltan Domotor, Liz Camp

Curriculum Vitæ: 

Karen Detlefsen

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Associate Professor of Philosophy and Education
Ph.D. Toronto
Contact Information
Phone: 
(215) 898-5560
Email address: 
Office Location: 
466 Cohen Hall
Office Hours: 
On leave 2013-14
Research Interests: 

I am working on a project on the relation between the life sciences and metaphysics in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Specifically, I am tracing the evolution of the concepts of mechanism, teleology, individuation, and laws in the metaphysics of Descartes, Malebranche, Leibniz, Albrecht von Haller, and Caspar Friedrich Wolff as each one tries to explain the generation of new organisms.

I have also published and am also working on a number of papers on early modern women philosophers, including Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Mary Astell, and Émilie Du Châtelet. These will culminate in three larger projects. The first project is on Cavendish's metaphysics and natural philosophy, including their relation to her political philosophy (especially as implied in her fiction), and including the conceptual relation between her philosophy and that of Hobbes and Spinoza. The second project – in collaboration with Andrew Janiak (Duke) – is on Du Châtelet's natural philosophy, its conceptual relation to the work of Descartes, Leibniz, Wolff and Newton, her historical role in the emergence of modern science, and the gendered context of the sciences in the early modern period. The third project uses the works of early modern women philosophers as a prism through which to examine questions in the historiography of philosophy.

I have teaching interests in the Philosophy of Education. I have started research (with papers forthcoming on women and education as found in the thought of Astell and of Cavendish and Hobbes) on early modern educational theories, including an investigation of theories of women's education in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Selected Publications: 

Find me on PhilPapers: http://philpapers.org/profile/10967

“Du Châtelet and Descartes on the Roles of Hypothesis and Metaphysics in Science”. In Feminism and the History of Philosophy. Edited by Eileen O’Neill. Kluwer Academic Press (forthcoming).

“Teleology and natures in Descartes' Sixth Meditation”. In Descartes' Meditations: A Critical Guide, edited by Karen Detlefsen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (2012, in press).

“Margaret Cavendish on the Relation Between God and World”. Philosophy Compass, vol. 4, 2009.

“Explanation and Demonstration in the Wolff-Haller Debate Surrounding Generation.” In The Problem of Generation in Early Modern Philosophy: From Descartes to Kant, edited by Justin Smith. Series: Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology (2006).

Curriculum Vitæ: 

Michael Weisberg

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Associate Professor of Philosophy and Graduate Chair
Ph.D. Stanford University
Contact Information
Phone: 
(215) 898-0417
Email address: 
Office Location: 
421 Cohen Hall
Office Hours: 
Monday, 2-3:30 and by appointment
Research Interests: 
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy of Biology
  • Philosophy of Chemistry
  • Public Understanding of Science
  • Cognitive Science
  • My primary research concerns the philosophical issues surrounding the scientific method. Specifically, I am interested in the construction, development, and analysis of theories and models in computationally complex sciences such as population biology and chemistry. I pursue these interests in a variety of projects spanning traditional as well as novel areas in philosophy of science, including philosophy of biology, philosophy of chemistry, and the social structure of science.

    Selected Publications: 

    Find me on PhilPapers: http://philpapers.org/profile/81

    Simulation and Similarity: Using Models to Understand the World, 2013, Oxford University Press.

    "Three Kinds of Idealization," The Journal of Philosophy, 104 (12) 639-59.

    “Robustness Analysis,”Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Science, 73, 730–742.

    “Forty Years of `The Strategy': Levins on Model Building and Idealization,” Biology and Philosophy, 21(5), 623--645.

    “Who is a Modeler?”, British Journal for Philosophy of Science, 58, 207–233.

    “Qualitative Theory and Chemical Explanation,” Philosophy of Science, 71 (2004), 1071–1081.

    “Water is Not H2O,” Philosophy of Chemistry: Synthesis of a New Discipline. Eds. D. Baird, et al. New York: Springer. 337-345.

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