Pierluigi Cuzzolin – Fatiche e miserie dell’espressione iuxta propria principia

CISEPS – Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Economics, Psychology and Social Sciences

Fatiche e miserie dell’espressione iuxta propria principia

Pierluigi Cuzzolin
Università di Bergamo

February 28th, 2013, 12pm
Room U6/3061, Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1, Milano

telesioAbstract: Nel De rerum natura iuxta propria principia (prima edizione nel 1565) Bernardino Telesio utilizzava questo sintagma per propugnare uno studio dell’oggetto d’indagine secondo principi e criteri di indagine propri di quell’oggetto. Da allora l’espressione iuxta propria principia è stata spesso usata in modo strumentale. Intento di questa presentazione non è quello di ripercorrere questo capitolo di storia delle idee, peraltro ancora da scrivere, ma di vedere come l’invocazione ai propria principia in linguistica sia stato un fenomeno più travagliato e complesso che per altre discipline. Da questo punto di vista, parlare di propria principia in linguistica significa aver chiamato in causa, quasi a volerle porre a proprio fondamento teorico, molte altre discipline, dalla filosofia alla biologia alla fisica alla economia alle scienze cognitive più in generale, e sempre con alterne fortune.

The seminar is part of the CISEPS project The diffusion of cultural traits, whose goal is to trigger interdiciplinary debates, emphasizing common problems and peculiarities among economics, philosophy, anthropology, geography, history, biology and many more fields. Thinking in terms of cultural traits – i.e., characters depending in some way on social learning – doesn’t imply exhaustion of cultural processes; rather, it means thinking critically to scientific models and metaphors for studying culture.

How macro-evolutionary studies call for an extended synthesis

Emanuele Serrelli co-organizes with Nathalie Gontier and moderates the session “How macro-evolutionary studies call for an extended synthesis” at the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, 14-18 February. The session aims to provide an overall evaluation of the scientific importance of macroevolutionary studies, accessible to a large scientific community. It includes a series of international experts, coming from different disciplinary backgrounds (history and philosophy of science, molecular biology and paleontology), allowing for a multi-disciplinary account of macroevolution. It focuses on how macroevolution is defined, proven, studied methodologically, and how their research complements and extends the tenets of the Modern Synthesis.

AAAS SESSION ON HOW MACROEVOLUTIONARY STUDIES CALL FOR AN EXTENDED SYNTHESIS

Organized by Nathalie Gontier and Emanuele Serrelli and Moderated by Emanuele Serrelli

When Eldredge and Gould formulated punctuated equilibria theory, they put several macroevolutionary phenomena on the agenda that were not addressed by the early population geneticists and the founders of the Modern Synthesis. Their theory provides alternative scientific interpretations for the mode and tempo of evolution. Occurring gaps in the fossil record, or the lack of evidence for the existence of intermediate species, are understood as real. And some (living) fossils don’t appear to undergo any significant evolutionary change for millions of years, which necessitates the study of stasis. Acknowledging that evolution can occur faster or slower than predicted by Neodarwinians has consequences for how we define species, and what the levels of evolution are. Macroevolutionary studies provide different species concepts, and argue that evolution can occur at levels higher than the pheno- or genotype. Today, multiple scholars investigate the causes of evolutionary stasis as well as punctuations, macroevolutionary trends, and how evolution occurs at different hierarchies. In recent years, evidence for macroevolution is also provided from within the field of molecular biology, and the pattern of punceq has been proven to be present in neontological and even sociocultural evolutionary phenomena. The session will examine how macroevolutionary studies call for an extension of the Modern Synthesis, and which methodologies and techniques enable the study of macroevolutionary events.

  1. STEPHEN GOULD’S HIERARCHICAL ALTERNATIVE TO NEODARWINISM: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE, David Sepkoski, University of North Carolina Wilmington
    THE EVOLUTION OF EVOLUTION: CHANGING DYNAMICS IN MACROEVOLUTION, Douglas H. Erwin, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
  2. MACROEVOLUTION: ON THE BIRTH, DEATH, AND PERSISTENCE OF SPECIES, Bruce Lieberman, Department of Geology and Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas
  3. CONTINGENCY AND THE EXPLANATION OF MACROEVOLUTIONARY TRENDS, Derek Turner, Department of Philosophy, Connecticut College
  4. COMPLEXITY AND LIMITS TO CHANGE, Folmer Bokma, IceLab and Department for Ecology & Environmental Science, Umeå University, Sweden
  5. PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIA: A UNIVERSAL PATTERN IN LIFE AND CULTURE, Nathalie Gontier & Emanuele Serrelli, Applied Evolutionary Epistemology Lab, Centre for Philosophy of Science, University of Lisbon, Portugal. See Punctuated equilibria: a universal pattern in life and culture.

ABSTRACTS:

STEPHEN GOULD’S HIERARCHICAL ALTERNATIVE TO NEODARWINISM: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
David Sepkoski, University of North Carolina Wilmington
This paper will examine the historical significance of Stephen Jay Gould’s hierarchical “expansion” of Darwinism, focusing on the development of these ideas during the late 1970s and early 1980s as part of a larger program to establish “paleobiology” as an autonomous subdiscipline of evolutionary biology. The talk will explore the success of Gould’s program, and the extent to which paleobiology has become oriented around questions of macroevolutionary hierarchy as a result.

THE EVOLUTION OF EVOLUTION: CHANGING DYNAMICS IN MACROEVOLUTION
Douglas H. Erwin Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Most conceptions of macroevolution have involved a process that does not vary over time, with differences in the origination of new clades, or higher taxa controlled by ecology. Recent insights from evo-devo suggest a need to revisit this view and explore the non-uniformitarian aspects of macroevolution.

MACROEVOLUTION: ON THE BIRTH, DEATH, AND PERSISTENCE OF SPECIES
Bruce Lieberman Department of Geology and Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas
My talk will emphasize using the fossil record to study macroevolution in deep time. I will focus on what causes groups of species to radiate and diversity and what causes individual species to change, persist, or go extinct. Further, I will discuss how integrating data from phylogenetics, morphometrics, biogeography, and Geographic Information Systems can be used to tease apart how biotic and abiotic factors interact to cause large-scale evolution.

CONTINGENCY AND THE EXPLANATION OF MACROEVOLUTIONARY TRENDS
Derek Turner
Department of Philosophy, Connecticut College
Once scientists identify a macroevolutionary trend, they typically ask whether it is passive and generated by a random walk, or driven and generated by a directional bias in the state space. My talk will explore the connection between the passive/driven distinction and questions about the contingency of evolutionary history. I will suggest that the historical processes that generate passive trends exhibit greater contingency, whereas those that generate driven trends exhibit less contingency.

COMPLEXITY AND LIMITS TO CHANGE
Folmer Bokma
IceLab and Department for Ecology & Environmental Science, Umeå University, Sweden
Biological organisms are constantly under selection to improve the efficiency with which they function, and a common way to achieve this is via improved organization of its body, that is, complexity. This complexity, however, may make it harder for populations and species to adapt to a changing environment, and it might explain stasis. In my talk I ask whether this is the reason most species go extinct, and to what extent the same principle applies to human organizations.

PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIA: A UNIVERSAL PATTERN IN LIFE AND CULTURE
Nathalie Gontier & Emanuele Serrelli
Applied Evolutionary Epistemology Lab, Centre for Philosophy of Science, University of Lisbon, Portugal
Punctuated equilibria theory describes a pattern of evolution: long periods of stasis are intermitted by short periods of rapid change. This pattern, first observed in the fossil record, appears to be universal. It has been detected in extant species on a molecular level, in the cultural dispersal of artifacts, and in the historical dispersal of certain language families. We will investigate which mechanisms underlie the pattern of punctuated equilibria in both biological and cultural evolution.

The session, organized with Nathalie Gontier, aims to provide an overall evaluation of the scientific importance of macroevolutionary studies, accessible to a large scientific community. It includes a series of international experts, coming from different disciplinary backgrounds (history and philosophy of science, molecular biology and paleontology), allowing for a multi-disciplinary account of macroevolution. It focuses on how macroevolution is defined, proven, studied methodologically, and how their research complements and extends the tenets of the Modern Synthesis.