25 de febrero de 2022

CfP: Special Issue of ArtefaCToS. Philosophy of Organismal Biology

Philosophy of Organismal Biology: From Ontogeny to Ecology and Evolution 

Guest editors: Alejandro Fábregas-Tejeda (Ruhr University Bochum) & Mariano Martín-Villuendas (University of Salamanca-ECyT) 

Submission deadline: 29.07.2022 

The notion ‘philosophy of organismal biology’ is an apt term to characterize a heterogenous, yet overlapping set of debates inside the landscape of contemporary philosophy of biology that stand in connection with recent advances and controversies of the biological sciences, but that are usually treated separately within scholarly work (e.g., the broader discussions on what constitutes ‘biological individuality’ in contrast to ‘organismality,’ the metaphysics of symbiosis and holobionts, debates revolving around the consequences that obtain by highlighting the role of organisms as agents and contributors in ecology and evolution, controversies on the boundaries between ‘development’ and ‘reproduction,’ and discussions pertaining to levels of organization, cancer research, immunology, epigenetics, evolvability, developmental scaffolding, phenotypic plasticity, etcetera). An important common denominator of these philosophical debates, albeit not made sufficiently explicit, is the ‘organism concept’ and the unavoidable relationship all of these phenomena under study have with organismic contexts. 

In manifold fields and research areas of contemporary biology, organisms are once again being conceptualized as causally efficacious, active ontogenetic units that cannot be subsumed by merely studying the properties of their parts (e.g., genes, cells). For instance, some biologists maintain that organisms are engaged in deeply entangled relationships with their environments and build themselves during their ontogenies by responding, integrating and shaping environmental signals and making use of developmental scaffolds, and not simply unfold according to the rigid instructions encoded in their genomes. Against the grain of a still dominant gene-centric outlook in molecular and evolutionary biology, an increasing number of authors construe developing organisms as plastic, open to environmental influences. Moreover, in current scientific developments, it is centrally argued that organisms causally affect the properties of their environments through their agency as niche constructors, consequently biasing the selective pressures that will impinge (synchronically and diachronically) upon them, their conspecifics, and other species linked with them by sustained ecological interactions. These theoretical developments have been fueled through the practices and conceptual contributions of evolutionary developmental biology (Evo-Devo), niche construction theory, epigenetics, studies of phenotypic plasticity, microbiome research, immunology, cancer research, and developmental systems theory, among other strands of biological theorization. 

Some scholars have even contended that the reconstitution of the 'organism' as an explanatory category in scientific inquiries (i.e., as an explanandum, without taking it for granted as the epiphenomenon of ‘genetic programs,’ and, additionally, as part of theexplanantia of many other biological phenomena), is an indispensable element to rethink biology (and philosophy of biology) for the 21st century. This burgeoning interest in more complex and nuanced accounts of what organisms are, how they develop and interact with their environments in ecological and evolutionary meaningful ways, and how they fit into the broader theoretical edifice of biology calls for thorough philosophical analyses. 

ArtefaCToS. Revista de Estudios sobre la Ciencia y la Tecnología invites submissions for a special issue on the philosophy of organismal biology (broadly construed), encompassing ontogenetic, ecological and evolutionary dimensions. In particular, we welcome contributions that seek to (1) interlink hitherto unconnected debates apropos the philosophy of organismal biology; or (2) deepen our philosophical understanding of one or more sub-topics related to the philosophy of organismal biology. Possible paper topics include (but are not restricted to): 

The uses of the ‘organism concept’ across the contemporary landscape of the life sciences 

The place of organismality inside biological and biomedical individuality debates 

Organismal agency in development, ecology, and evolution 

Examinations of the variational and dispositional properties of organismal development

Boundaries of organisms throughout development, reproduction, and environmental interactions 

The relationship between ‘organisms’ and ‘holobionts’ in developmental and evolutionary settings 

How organisms are featured in scientific explanations and theories of disparate biological and biomedical fields 

Epistemological, ontological, heuristic, methodological, pragmatic or axiological issues related to the philosophy of organismal biology 

The deadline for submissions is 29.07.2022 (10,000 words limit for each manuscript –references included). 

See the journal webpage (https://revistas.usal.es/index.php/artefactos/about/submissions) for author guidelines. 

For further information, please contact the guest editors: Alejandro Fábregas-Tejeda & Mariano Martín-Villuendas

Submissions should be sent through the OJS platform: https://revistas.usal.es/index.php/artefactos/about/submissions#authorGuidelines 

ArtefaCToS. Revista de Estudios sobre la Ciencia y la Tecnología is an open access peer-reviewed journal of the Instituto Universitario de Estudios de la Ciencia y la Tecnología (ECyT). ArtefaCToS publishes papers and scientific contributions by international authors of a multidisciplinary nature and linked to Science and Technology Studies. We understand by this type of studies those that align to a more traditional nature (e.g., general philosophy of science or philosophy of the special sciences) to case studies on current controversies in science and technology, which may include approaches as varied as economics, sociology, communication, philosophy, or history. ArtefaCToS is published every six months. There are no submission, reviewing, or publication fees for authors.