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Why is it a lab?

As I’ve been doing more PR for the lab online, a few people have been confused by the fact that I call the group a lab in the first place. What do you mean, a philosophy lab? Does that make any sense at all?

On the one hand, I have a pretty simple answer: I’m borrowing from the way that our scientist colleagues organize their research groups, and I think they both have a lot more history doing it, and are a lot better at it than philosophers are! But that’s not all, and I wanted to write something here to say why.

Research Ethics and Monkey Brains

(N.B.: Français ci-dessous !) I was asked recently by the Brussels newspaper La Libre to provide some comments regarding research ethics concerning some recent experiments in macaques, which involved inserting a gene responsible for human brain development into a number of monkeys. (See some very nice coverage at MIT Technology Review.)

FNRS MIS Project: Digital History and Philosophy of Biology

Continuing the series of articles about the lab’s grant funding, I now have the distinct honor of describing our new project under the auspices of the FNRS (Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique – FNRS), Wallonia’s scientific funding organization. The grant is a “Mandat d’Impulsion Scientifique,” an early-career fellowship designed to kickstart a new research program for an incoming researcher. And the most important thing that the grant is funding is two two-year (or, possibly, three-year) postdoctoral fellowships!

Video: Francis Galton on Chance in Evolution

Last month, I had the chance to visit the incredible group of folks at the Université de Bordeaux led by Thomas Pradeu under the auspices of the PhilInBioMed project. I delivered a talk focusing on new work from my book project, particularly the role of Francis Galton’s work.

NSF Project: A Pompous Parade of Arithmetic

After a much-too-long period without anything new here (I’ll spare you the moving-related excuses), I’m overdue to write a few summaries here of the lab’s newest projects! First up is our NSF grant, which is currently around two-thirds complete, having funded me entirely for the first half of the academic year, and concluding at the end of May. The goal is to produce a book – now around half-finished (the discrepancy between these two fractions is a touch disconcerting) – that details the introduction of statistical methods and, more importantly, the philosophical understandings of chance that were taken to license their use, into biology, from the publication of Darwin’s Origin to the early days of the Modern Synthesis.