People

People

Co-Leads


Paul is an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. He was educated at Cambridge and the Australian National University, receiving his PhD in 1989. He taught at Otago University in New Zealand and later headed the History and Philosophy of Science program at the University of Sydney, before taking up a Chair in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. He returned to Australia in 2004, first as an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow and from 2007 as a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Sydney.

Paul co-leads the Theory and Method in Biosciences group with Pierrick Bourrat.




Pierrick is an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Macquarie University. He has a dual background in Evolutionary Biology (MSc, Montpellier, France) and Philosophy of Science (MA, Paris). He received his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Sydney in 2015. After a postdoc at the University of Sydney, Pierrick moved to Macquarie University in 2017.

Pierrick co-leads the Theory and Method in Biosciences group with Paul Griffiths.




Staff

Adnaan Baraky

adnaan baraky

Adnaan is a musician, composer, and oud player, who also found an interest in management and leadership. Adnaan is currently part of the TMB team (University of Sydney) as the administration officer, partnering with the team to fulfill its purpose and vision.



Carl has dual postdoc positions firstly with TMB at the University of Sydney, where he works on cultural evolution in the context of health, and at the Australian National University.
His PhD was on formal modelling of signalling in the evolution of religion. He has a background in philosophy and physical sciences, but also worked at the ANU medical school and the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute. His publications are in health services research, signalling, cultural evolution, and conceptual change in science. Other research interests include biological individuality, personal identity, conceptual pluralism, ethics, and the evolution of social norms.
Carl's project with TMB is to articulate a framework for extending the notion of biological normativity and healthy well-functioning beyond the biomedical, to include developmentally enculturated traits, and to soften the gap between naturalist and normativist approaches to understanding health.



Guilhem is an evolutionary biologist with a particular interest for the interplay between ecological and evolutionary dynamics. He defended his PhD thesis "On the Evolution of Collective-Level Darwinian Properties" in 2019. His work in the TMB team (Macquarie University) is focused on the concept of fitness and its limits (Doulcier et al. 2020, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bies.202000157), and evolutionary transition in individuality (Bourrat et al. 2021, https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.09.01.458526v1). Guilhem has a background in evolutionary biology and applied mathematics, meaning that his tools of choice include a range of modelling methods from dynamical systems to stochastic processes and probability theory.



Dan is an Honorary Associate in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, at the University of Sydney. His academic background includes a degree in mathematics (University of Chicago) and PhD in ecology and evolution (Stony Brook). A focus of his research is “biodiversity”, from philosophy to policy (see https://danielpfaith.wordpress.com/more-on-biodiversity/). Research on philosophy of biodiversity includes the “Biodiversity” entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and as a Lead Author for the “Values Assessment” of The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Policy-related research includes biodiversity monitoring in NSW and work on global biodiversity conservation priorities. One important global context is the current application of Dan’s “phylogenetic diversity” (PD) framework for phylogenetically-informed species conservation in the global conservation program, “Edge of Existence”.



Stefan supports the various projects of the TMB team in his role as a research officer at the Charles Perkins Centre and Department of Philosophy, at the University of Sydney. He is also a PhD candidate in the School of History and Philosophy of Science, where his research topic is Jakob von Uexküll’s construction of the Umwelt concept.



Kate is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney, with a background working as both a philosopher and biologist. She uses a combination of experimental approaches and philosophical theory to understand conceptual issues intersecting the two fields. Kate is involved in multiple collaborative projects with ecologists, geneticists, ethologists, psychologists, medical practitioners and philosophers. Her current interests include: the way in which genetic causes operate and are understood; the kinds of causal claims made in microbiology; how to most effectively practice conservation biology; gene-environment interplays in development and evolution; and the influence of genetic technologies on society.



Andrew is a postdoctoral research fellow in the philosophy department at Macquarie University. His work focuses on the concept of “function” in the context of both synthetic and non-synthetic biology. Having recently completed a PhD in cognitive science at Macquarie, Andrew is interested in using an experimental approach to discover how different populations think about the concept of biological function. Andrew’s PhD research explored how attributions of intentionality can facilitate the expression of teleological beliefs about biological and nonbiological natural entities. He is interested in this question from both a cognitive science of religion and dual-process thinking and reasoning perspective.



Peter Takacs is a member of the Charles Perkins Centre and the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. His current research in the Theory and Method in Biosciences group is in philosophy of biology and the philosophy of evolutionary biomedicine, with special emphasis on the conceptual challenges that arise when attempting to determine the ontology of individuals and identify biological (mal)function given “DEEP” (Developmental, Evolutionary, Ecological, and Physiological) feedbacks. His past research focused on the metaphysical, epistemological (i.e., empirical as well as formal approaches), and normative issues that arise when examining the notion of fitness, explanations of major evolutionary transitions such as cooperation, how sophisticated evolutionary reasoning changes prevailing assumptions about health, and whether the life sciences currently require a so-called “New Synthesis.” His research is funded by the Australian Research Council project ‘A Philosophy of Medicine for the 21st Century’ (#FL170100160) and a subaward grant for ‘Evolutionary Transitions in Individuality: From Ecology to Teleonomy’ under the John Templeton Foundation’s “Agency, Directionality and Function: Foundations for a Science of Purpose” initiative (#62220).



Graham is a Research Assistant working with both the Evolutionary Transitions in Individuality project out of Macquarie University and the Theory and Methods in Biosciences lab at Sydney University. He is a PhD candidate in Philosophy at Macquarie University, with a background in the philosophy of cognitive science and evolution. His PhD thesis is on the origins and cultural evolution of storytelling, in particular the application of an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis to understanding how and why storytelling has become a ubiquitous behaviour in humans across cultures. His interests lie broadly in conceptual issues around evolution, cognition, agency, and the self.



Students


Axel is a PhD student in the Philosophy of Biomedicine at the University of Sydney under the supervision of Paul Griffiths and Peter Godfrey-Smith. He is a graduate trainee at the Culture Mind and Brain Program of the University McGill and was a visiting fellow at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Neuroimaging of the University College London. He received an MSc in Cognitive Science from the University of Amsterdam and an MA in Philosophy from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. His published work is at the intersection of Evolutionary Biology, the Philosophy of Cognitive science and Psychiatry, and Evolutionary Cultural Anthropology. His current work aims at extending methods employed in Computational Psychiatry to theories and models employed in Cultural Psychiatry. His focus is on the theory of looping effects of human kinds and on Ecosocial models of psychiatric disorders such as applied to depression and autism.



Ding is a PhD student in the Philosophy of Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney under the supervision of Paul Griffiths and Kate Lynch. Her main interest is in the interplay between ontological assumptions, scientific practice, and empirical data underlying the generation of explanations and intervention strategies for natural phenomena. Her current work focuses on non-reductive approaches in developmental biology and centers around three major focal points: (i) the differences between reductive and non-reductive approaches, (ii) the conceptual concerns surrounding the adoption of non-reductive approaches, and (iii) the practical implications of adopting such approaches.





Walter is a PhD candidate under the supervision of Paul Griffiths and Peter Godfrey-Smith in the School of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney. He received an MA in Philosophy of the Biological and Cognitive Sciences from the University of Bristol under the supervision of Samir Okasha, a BA in Philosophy \& Economics from the University of Bayreuth under the supervision of Rainer Hegselmann, and he previously worked as a pre-doctoral research fellow at Carnegie Mellon University. His interests stretch widely across science and philosophy, with his primary research interests being located at the intersection of the biological, social, and cognitive sciences. For a glimpse of his work, you can watch this talk on the evolution of multicellular organisms at the European Society of Evolutionary Biology or take a look at his list of publications which now includes over 50 papers.




Past Staff


Josh is an evolutionary biologist who worked with TMB on integrating theoretical models with philosophical theories on biological function. He developed methods to operationalise and quantify biological function, as well as using natural language processing to understand how biologists use the concept of "function" in the literature.



Caitrin was a Research Associate for Paul Griffiths' Australian Laureate Fellowship A Philosophy of Medicine for the 21st Century, and is a PhD student in the School of History and Philosophy of Science. Drawing on externalist approaches in the philosophy of cognitive science and biology, her research considers the role of environmental factors — in particular, cultural practices, norms and institutions — in the explanation, classification, and treatment of psychopathological phenomena. Caitrin’s dissertation is being supervised by Dominic Murphy and Richard Menary (Macquarie University). Her philosophical interests lie in philosophy of cognitive science, biology and medicine, with a special focus on philosophy of psychiatry.


Imogen Kavanagh

imogen kavanagh

Imogen worked as an Administrative Assistant for the Theory and Method in Biosciences team. She graduated from Sydney University with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in History and Anthropology. She received a Masters in Applied Linguistics (TESOL) from Macquarie University which led to teaching at the Centre of Macquarie English for ten years and benchmarking at two Universities in Scotland. She was a research assistant in the Department of Linguistics and taught Academic Communication to Undergraduate students at Macquarie University.

Moving into professional staff roles has involved managing and editing grant applications, publications and reports. At the University of Sydney’s DVC Research Office, she supported the recent submissions for ERA and Impact & Engagement. Employed as a Research Assistant, she edited narratives to showcase the University's research impact. She is currently the administration assistant to the TMB team while casual teaching at the Centre of English Teaching at the University of Sydney.




A theoretical biologist and a philosopher of biology, Arnaud defended his PhD thesis in theoretical ecology at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris. He continued his researches as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh and as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the T&MB group. Arnaud is currently a Templeton Independent Research Fellow with funding from the Templeton World Charity Foundation. He is also a member of the Charles Perkins Centre Lifelab.






Brett is a philosopher of science with a background in software engineering. His research focuses on the evolution of complex systems. He has worked as an SFI/ASU post-doctoral fellow at Arizona State University and a fellow in Joshua Epstein’s Center for Advanced Modeling at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. He has worked with Kim Sterelny on a project on Evolvability and the Evolution of Complexity, and with biologist Lindell Bromham on a project on Major Transitions in Evolution. He completed his PhD, “Major Transitions in Biological Organisation” in 2007, at the Australian National University, supervised by Peter Godfrey-Smith.






Karola Stotz was a senior lecturer and Templeton World Charity Foundation Fellow in the department of philosophy at Macquarie University.

She received her Masters in physical and cultural anthropology from the University of Mainz, Germany and her PhD in philosophy from the University of Ghent in Belgium. She has worked at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research in Austria, the Unit for History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney, the Department of HPS at the University of Pittsburgh and the Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University.

In 2008 she was awarded a 5-year Australian Research Fellowship and discovery grant at the University of Sydney with the project “Postgenomic Perspectives on Human Nature”. Stotz has published on philosophical issues in evolutionary, developmental and molecular biology, psychobiology and cognition. She focused particularly on the nature nurture controversy, non-genetic inheritance and developmental niche construction, nonreductive and integrative explanatory strategies, and 4 E (embodied, embedded, enactive and extended) cognition. Together with Paul Griffiths she pioneered the use of 'experimental philosophy' methods in the field of philosophy of science.

She worked on the Templeton World Charity Foundation project “Causal Foundations of Biological Information”.




Past Students

Elena Walsh


PhD (2019): 'Modeling the embodied mind: The dynamical turn in affective science'

Lecturer, University of Wollongong



Karl Rollings


PhD (2018): 'Cooperative Instrumentalism: A Naturalistic Explanation of Morality'

Medical Doctor




PhD (2017): 'The genetic and mechanistic basis of worker sterility in the honey bee'
Supervised by Prof. Ben Oldroyd (Behaviour and Genetics of Social Insects Laboratory, School of Biological Sciences) and Prof. Paul Griffiths.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Harvard University




PhD (2014) 'Beyond Biological Naturalism and Social Constructionism about Race: An Interactive Constructionist Approach to Racialisation'

Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Macquarie University
Personal website



PhD (2012) 'States of origin: influences on research into the origins of life'

Professional science communicator.
Personal website



Past Visiting Staff


Wesley's work focuses on how to develop an extended philosophical account of mechanistic explanation based on scientific practices of systems biology during the last two decades. He is also interested in applying the causal Bayesian network framework to traditional philosophical questions such as multiple realization, biological functions, etc.












Dan Nicholson




Arunas Radzvilavicius




Carrie Figdor

carrie figdor

Dr. Carrie Figdor is Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Iowa. She was an Anderson Fellow at the University of Sydney during 2019 (Term 2), sponsored by Paul Griffiths, and continued as a visiting scholar/researcher until March 2020. Dr. Figdor’s project at Sydney was the development of a non-anthropocentric framework for psychology grounded in the biological sciences. Her approach provides a unified theoretical basis for empirical findings of cognitive capacities throughout the biological world and extends the non-anthropocentric perspective on cognition that she introduces in her recent book, Pieces of Mind (Oxford UP, 2018).








Maureen O'Malley