Biological Interest Group

Meeting time: Friday mornings 10:15-11:30 am Central time
Meeting place: online via Zoom

The biological interest group (BIG) reads and discusses works of mutual interest in the history and philosophy of biology. We select readings for a variety of reasons: to keep up on the most exciting developments in the field, to help participants scrutinize literature relevant to their research projects (faculty or graduate student research), to provide feedback on works in progress being written by BIG participants (graduate students, faculty, and Center visitors), to revisit classic articles in the literature, and sometimes just to have fun discussing a topic related to biology. For more information, please contact Alan Love (

Our meetings are informal and some participants need to arrive late or leave early because of scheduling conflicts. All faculty from the University of Minnesota and area colleges and universities and graduate students are welcome to attend whenever they would like (without invitation) and without giving advanced notice. Undergraduates are included by invitation. (If you know of an undergraduate who is well-suited and possibly interested, please contact Alan Love at so an invitation can be extended.)

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Spring 2021

Please join our mailing list for the zoom invitation or email

  • January 22: Seitza, B.M., A. Aktipisb, D.M. Buss, J. Alcock, P. Bloome, M. Gelfand, S. Harris, D. Lieberman, B.N. Horowitz, S. Pinker, D.S. Wilson, and M.G. Haselton. 2020. The pandemic exposes human nature: 10 evolutionary insights. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117:27767–27776. (pdf)
  • January 29: Spencer, H.G. 2020. Beyond equilibria: The neglected role of history in ecology and evolution. Quarterly Review of Biology 95:311–321. (pdf)
  • February 5: Ereshefsky, M. and D. Turner. 2020. Historicity and explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 80:47–55. (pdf)
  • February 12: Fuller, J. 2020. Epidemiological evidence: Use at your own risk? Philosophy of Science 87:1119–1129. (pdf) Steven Stovitz will be visiting.
  • February 19: Finlay, B.B., K.R. Amato, M. Azad, M.J. Blaser, T.C.G. Bosch, et al. 2021. The hygiene hypothesis, the COVID pandemic, and consequences for the human microbiome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118:e2010217118. (pdf)
  • February 26: Novick, A. and W.F. Doolittle. 2020. Horizontal persistence and the complexity hypothesis. Biology & Philosophy 35:2. (pdf)
  • March 5: Guttinger, S. 2019. A new account of replication in the experimental life sciences. Philosophy of Science 86:453–471. (pdf)
  • March 12: Barwich, A-S. 2021. Imaging the living brain: An argument for ruthless reductionism from olfactory neurobiology. Journal of Theoretical Biology 512:110560. DOI: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2020.110560 (pdf) Ann-Sophie Barwich will be attending.
  • March 19: Fürst von Lieven, A., M. Humar, and G. Scholtz. 2021. Aristotle’s lobster: the image in the text. Theory in Biosciences 140:1–15. (pdf)
  • March 26: Levin, P.S., S.A. Gray, C. Mollmann, and A.C. Stier. 2021. Perception and Conflict in Conservation: The Rashomon Effect. BioScience 71:64–72. DOI:10.1093/biosci/biaa117 (pdf)
  • April 2: Spring break No meeting
  • April 9: Spring break No meeting
  • April 16: Levit, G.S., U. Hossfeld, B. Naumann, P. Lukas, and L. Olsson. 2021. The biogenetic law and the Gastraea theory: From Ernst Haeckel's discoveries to contemporary views. JEZB (Molecular and Developmental Evolution):1-15. DOI: 10.1002/jez.b.23039 (pdf)
  • April 23: Matthews, L.J. and E. Turkheimer. 2021. Across the great divide: pluralism and the hunt for missing heritability. Synthese 198:2297–2311. (pdf)
  • April 30: Harden, K.P. 2021. The science of terrible men. Aeon.; Parens, E. 2020. The genes we're dealt. Aeon.

Fall 2020

  • September 11: Zuk, M. and H.G. Spencer. 2020. Killing the behavioral zombie: genes, evolution, and why the behavior isn’t special. BioScience 70:515–520. 
  • Cesario, J., D.J. Johnson, and H.L. Eisthen. 2020. Your brain is not an onion with a tiny reptile inside. Current Directions in Psychological Science 29:255–260. 
  • September 18: A.K Shaw, L.A White, M. Michalska-Smith, E.T Borer, M.E. Craft, E.W. Seabloom, E. Snell-Rood, and M. Travisano. 2020. Lessons from movement ecology for the return to work: modeling contacts and the spread of COVID-19. medRxiv. DOI: DOI: 10.1101/2020.05.27.20114728
  • September 25: K.L. Voje, E. Di Martino, and A. Porto. 2020. Revisiting a landmark study system: no evidence for a punctuated model of evolution in Metrarabdotos. The American Naturalist 195:899–917. 
  • October 2: Richardson, S.S. (manuscript) Sex Contextualism
  • October 9: Pancaldi, G. 2019. Darwin’s technology of life. Isis 110:680-700.
  • October 16: Kalewold, K.H. 2020. Race and medicine in light of the new mechanistic philosophy of science. Biology & Philosophy 35:41. 
  • October 23: Allchin, D. and A. Werth. 2017. The naturalizing error. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 48:3–18.
  • October 30: Crouch, D.J.M. and W.F. Bodmer. 2020. Polygenic inheritance, GWAS, polygenic risk scores, and the search for functional variants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117(32):18924–18933. 
  • November 6: Fields, C. and M. Levin. 2020. Scale-free biology: integrating evolutionary and developmental thinking. BioEssays 42:1900228. 
  • November 13: Elliott-Graves, A. 2020. What is a target system? Biology & Philosophy 35:28. 
  • November 20: Morens, D.M. and A.S. Fauci. 2020. Emerging pandemic diseases: how we got to COVID-19. Cell 182:1077-1092. 
  • November 27: No meeting - Thanksgiving
  • December 4: Conix, S. 2020. Enzyme classification and the entanglement of values and epistemic standards. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science. DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2020.05.005
  • December 11: Doherty, J.-F. 2020. When fiction becomes fact: exaggerating host manipulation by parasites. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 287:20201081. 

Previous BIG topics