[LebensWissen] CfA: Superorganisms, Organisms and Suborganisms as Biological Individuals (First Interdisciplinary Summer School on Individuality in the Life Sciences) , Gut Siggen, East Holstein, Germany, 27-31 July 2015

The concept of biological individuality and the question of what makes biological entities count as biological individuals are among the most controversially debated issues in current philosophy of biology. Similarly, in current historical and social studies of the life sciences, as well as in biology itself, the concept of organismality (which traditionally is closely linked to the concept of individuality) is a topic of renewed interest. Examples include discussions on the role of the organism concept in biology, on the question whether groups might count as superorganisms in theories of group selection, whether theories of selection at the cell level (e.g., in cancer research) may give rise to a “suborganism” view of cells in the context of selection in cell lineages, or what the general relation is between our ordinary concept of organismality and the diverse individuation criteria that are applied in various scientific contexts .

This is the first of two international and interdisciplinary summer schools on individuality organized by the Network Philosophy of the Life Sciences in Germany. This summer school will explore the questions on which organizational levels around the organism level (i.e., levels just above and below the organism level individuals are found in the living world, what reasons scientists have for recognizing particular entities as individuals, and in what ways these reasons have changed throughout the history of the life sciences. The second summer school (2016) will focus on the concept of human nature. Both summer schools aim to bring together the perspectives of the philosophy, history, and social studies of the life sciences.

Organizers, instructors & chairs: Marie I. Kaiser (Cologne), Thomas Reydon (Hannover), Christian Sachse (Lausanne), Marianne Schark (Hamburg).

Venue: Seminarzentrum Gut Siggen.

Lecturers: Yulia Egorova (Durham), Philippe Huneman (IHPST Paris), Erika Milam (Princeton), Charles Wolfe (Gent).


Day 1: Arrival – introductory lectures by the organizers – group formation and

theme setting for group work – group work

Days 2-4: Lecture – group work – brief presentations by students

Day 5: “Meet an editor” session – closing discussion – departure after lunch

A total of 20 places are available for advanced PhD students and recent PhD’s working in the philosophy, history, or social studies of the life sciences, or in relevant related areas. Accommodation and meals will be covered for all participants. In addition, participants will receive travel grants which should cover a considerable part of the costs incurred for travel to Gut Siggen. There is no participation fee.

Please note that the event is still conditional upon funding being granted by the Volkswagen Foundation.

How to apply: Send a single PDF containing a cover letter (not longer than two pages) and a CV (not longer than four pages) by email to Thomas Reydon (reydon@ww.uni-hannover.de). Your cover letter should include a description of (1) your general research interests and (2) the topic you are currently working on, and (3) should make clear why participation in the summer school is relevant for your current and future work. The deadline for applications is 12 April 2015, decisions will be made by the end of April. For further information, please contact Thomas Reydon (reydon@ww.uni-hannover.de).

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