Philosophy of Biology

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


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


"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


Benjamin Franklin Fellowship 2008-2012

George W.M. Bacon Fellow 2012-2013

Critical Writing Fellowship 2013-2014


Supervisor: Michael Weisberg

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

Curriculum Vitæ: 

Karen Detlefsen

[image ]
Associate Professor of Philosophy and Education
Ph.D. Toronto
Contact Information
(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: 

“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

[image of Prof. Weisberg]
Associate Professor of Philosophy and Graduate Chair
Ph.D. Stanford University
Contact Information
(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: 

    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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