On the nature of variation: random, biased and directional

3-4 October 2017


On the nature of variation: random, biased and directional is an international conference organized by the Centre for Philosophy of Science of the University of Lisbon (CFCUL). Adaptationism, i.e. the claim that natural selection provides a sufficient explanation for the evolution of most traits, pervades all aspects of biological thinking. The underlying assumption supporting adaptationism is that variation is somehow random, namely, that it is neither biased nor directional. This conference aims to provide an interdisciplinary context for uncovering and critically evaluating the rationale behind the hypothesis of variation randomness in the light of new developments in the evolutionary sciences (e.g. from the impact of instructive mutations in prokaryotes – CRISPR-Cas -, to mutation-biased divergence in molecular sequences, to the likely role of developmental biases in phenotypic divergence). Why was variation characterised as random in the first place? And what would be the case if either mutational or developmental biases were to impinge on the evolutionary process?


Invited speakers: Eva Boon (Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Holland), Pietro Corsi (University of Oxford, UK and EHESS, Paris, France), Leonore Fleming (Utica College, USA), Gerd Müller (Universität Wien, Austria), Sahotra Sarkar (University of Texas at Austin, USA and Presidency University, Kolkata, India), Arlin Stoltzfus (Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, NIST, USA).


Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Organizers: Elena Casetta, Silvia Di Marco, Jorge Marques da Silva, Carina Vieira da Silva & Davide Vecchi
Abstract deadline: 15 July 2017