Département de philosophie

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The lake geneva BIOLOGICAL INTEREST GROUP is a forum for discussing biology from a multitude of perspectives, including philosophical, scientific and historical, and was founded in 2012 at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Geneva. Our standing members are based in different institutions at the Universities of Geneva, Lausanne, Bern, and Milan. We consider ourselves to be part of a BIG international movement that includes kindred groups at the University of Minnesota and the University of Exeter. Our members are also participating in the From Biological Practice to Scientific Metaphysics initiative, sinergia and What if? research projects.

Our meetings take place on Tuesdays from 12:15 to 14:00 in Bâtiment des Philosophes in the room Phil102 (22, boulevard des Philosophes). We discuss our own research as well as other contemporary philosophical, scientific and historical work that addresses interesting biological issues.

Everyone is welcome!

Members in Geneva

Department of Philosophy

William Bausman (Geneva)
Pablo Carnino (Geneva)
Lorenzo Casini (Geneva)
Christine Clavien (Geneva)
Michal Hladky (Geneva)
Maximilian Huber (Geneva)
Guillaume Schlaepfer (Geneva)
Michael Stuart (Geneva)
Marcel Weber (Geneva)

Other departments

Bruno Strasser (Geneva)

External members

Pierre-Luc Germain (Milan)
Marie I. Kaiser (Cologne)
Andrea Loettgers (Bern)
François Pellet (Münster)
Maria José Ferreira Ruiz (Buenos Aires)
Christian Sachse (Lausanne)
Raphael Scholl (Cambridge)
Martin Wasmer (Hannover)


Program Fall Term 2018

02 Oct            Will Bausman on Rachel Ankeny and Sabina Leonelli (2016),

                      “Repertoires: A post-Kuhnian perspective on collaborative research”. Stud. Hist. Phil. Sci. 60: 18-28


09 Oct            Augustin Baas “Is there any chance of biological randomness?”


16 Oct            Lorenzo Casini and Roberto Keller on disease as networks


23 Oct            Guillaume Schlaepfer on thought experiments / modelling


30 Oct            [joint session with thumos] Michal Hladky & Steve Humbert-Droz "Imaginary invalid! Deflating the model bubble"


20 Nov            Gregorio Demarchi on the extended evolutionary synthesis


27 Nov            Christian Sachse on TBA


04 Dec            Raphaël Scholl on Claude Bernard and the growth of the vera causa standard


11 Dec            Elena Rondeau on conceptual issues in cancer research


18 Dec            Tiberiu Popa on adaptation without evolution in Aristotle


Program (provisional) Spring Term 2018

20 Feb             Organizational meeting (for Masters students)

27 Feb             Maria Ferreira Ruiz: Dealing with the Changeable and Blurry Edges of Living Things: A Modified Version of Property-Cluster Kinds

6 March           Carl Gillet: Using Compositional Explanations to Understand Compositional Levels: Why scientists talk about “levels”

13 March         Marcel Weber: Causal Specificity, Biological Possibility and Non-parity About Genetic Causes

20 March         Raphael Scholl: Bridging the Gap Between Populations and Individuals by Network Reconstruction

27 March         Rawad El Skaf: On the Notion of Possibility at Play in Scientific Thought Experiments

10 April           William Bausman: Why Do Biologists Use the Methodologies They Do?

17 April           Christine Clavien: title TBA

24 April           Tiberiu Popa: Necessity and ‘for the most part’ in Aristotle’s biology

8 May              Gregorio Demarchi: Biological Fitness as Dispositional Property – Metaphysical Foundations and Empirical Applications

15 May            Martin Wasmer: Operationalizing the Naturalness-based Definition in the European GMO Directive

22 May            Lorenzo Casini: title TBA

Program Fall Term 2017

Classification II: Ancient and Modern Perspectives
Tuesdays, 12h-14h, Bâtiment des Philosophes, Room 102, (22, boulevard des Philosophes)

Program Spring Term 2017
Tuesdays, 12h-14h, Bâtiment des Philosophes, Room 102, (22, boulevard des Philosophes)

21 February
Lorenzo Casini on “Horizontal Surgicality and Mechanistic Constitution”

28 February
Martin Wasmer (ETHZ) on practices in evolutionary biology

7 March
Joshua Babic, Lorenzo Cocco and Michal Hladky on Joseph Woodger’s The Axiomatic Method in Biology (1937)

14 March
Woodger continued

21 March
Raphael Scholl on “Stability without Stasis: Ambition and modesty of realism about true causes”

28 March No meeting (Marcel speaking in Basel)

4 April
Luigi Scorzato on “Science and Illusions” (joint meeting w/ Geneva Symmetry Group)

11 April
Guillaume Schlaepfer on a priori knowledge in evolutionary biology

18 April Easter break

25 April
Will Bausman on “Understanding the inference from scientific practice to metaphysics as an adaptive inference”

2 May
Maria José Ferreira Ruiz (University of Buenos Aires) on information in biology

9 May
Michal Hladky on simulation in neuroscience

16 May
Andrea Loettgers on modeling and experimentation

23 May
François Pellet on “Disease and Its Kinds”


Past Activities


If you are interested in the group, in attending the weekly meetings, or in presenting your own work at one of the meetings, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Marcel Weber 
Département de Philosophie 
Université de Genève 
2, rue de Candolle 
CH-1211 Genève 4 
Tél.: +41.22.379.7050 (secrétariat) 
Email: Marcel.Weber(at)unige.ch