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The Evo Devo of Scientific Theories - Michel Janssen

Thursday, 20 January, 2022 - 17:00

ILAS - SISSA Interdisciplinary Lab for Advanced Studies and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin are pleased to invite you to participate in the joint webinar “The Evo Devo of Scientific Theories” delivered on Zoom by Michel Janssen of the School of Physics and Astronomy University of Minnesota (USA) on Thursday, January 20, 2022 at 5 p.m. CET

Abstract: In their classic 1979 paper “The Spandrels of San Marco,” Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin pushed back against the dogmatic character the 1930s-1940s “modern synthesis” of the insights of Darwin and Mendel had acquired by the late 1970s. They suggested an alternative approach to evolutionary theory in biology, which has come to be known as “evo-devo” (for evolution and development). Inspired in part by Gould and Lewontin, I similarly want to suggest an alternative to the approach of accounting for scientific change in Thomas S. Kuhn’s famous 1962 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Like Gould and Lewontin, I use an architectural metaphor. New theories, I argue, are built like arches on scaffolds provided by old theories.

This seminar is meant as an opportunity for students, post-docs, and researchers to broaden their cultural perspectives on the scientific enterprise and as a prelude to the conference “The Evolution of Knowledge” that SISSA will host in July 14-16 2022.