Even years are apparently quieter for our Society, as there is no biennial meeting, but now is the perfect time to prepare future events. In this issue, you will find such news and I simply want to underline some important points.
Thanks to Stuart Glennan for the excellent job that he did as chair of the Off-Year Workshop Committee, which generated proposals. The Committee decided to support two different workshops in 201 6, one hosted at the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Austria and the other at Clemson University in South Carolina. These workshops will address different, but equally important issues, and the Committee strove to make both of them as international and as open as possible.
For our 201 7 meeting in São Paulo, Maria Elice de Brzezinski Prestes and the Local Advisory Committee report the progress made in developing the website of the meeting and the partnerships established with the Institute Butantan and the Brazilian Society of Genetics. The energy exerted by our Brazilian colleagues bodes well for the success of this meeting. I remind you that the ISHPSSB 201 7 meeting will be followed two days later by the 25th International Congress ofHistory ofScience and Technology in Rio de Janeiro. So, start preparing your schedule and journey for attendance at both meetings!
It is already time for us to start planning the 201 9 and 2021 meetings. Marsha Richmond and the Site Selection Committee have included in this newsletter a call for proposals for the 201 9 meeting. Initial expression of interest will have to be submitted by May 201 6, and the full proposal is due by 30 November
201 6. But Marsha also rightly wants to initiate preparations for the 2021 meeting. Expressions of interest for the 2021 meeting will also have to be submitted by May 201 6 and, depending upon these, the final date of the call for the 2021 proposals will be determined.
The Membership Development Committee and the Education Committee have already started planning their activities for the São Paulo meeting, but they also want to schedule their work plan on a longer term.
Many of you participated in the survey organized by Chantelle Marlor and Michelle Riedlinger on interdisciplinarity, under the attractive title “Producing Loveable Monsters.” Chantelle sent us a preliminary report appended to this newsletter, and my feeling is that this external view of our Society and the interdisciplinarity that lies at its heart has yielded highly interesting results. The survey results support some of the observations that we have already discussed, such as the unequal contribution of our three disciplines—history, philosophy, and social sciences—, and some reasons for this are proposed. There are other more positive observations, such as a good distribution of ages among our members. The main value of the survey probably lies in the help it affords our younger members in successfully developing their interdisciplinary projects. Not all projects are ripe for an interdisciplinary approach—the choice is crucial—and it is often best to do the job alone, after acquisition of knowledge of a second “culture” by complete immersion in a discipline other than one’s own. There is more in this report than the limited conclusions that I have discussed, and I warmly urge you all to read it carefully.
It has not been in the tradition of the Society to include obituaries in our newsletter. But two recent sad events deserve comment. The first was the death of William Provine, who in 201 1 received the first David L. Hull Prize. He was the main historian of the development of population genetics and the Modern Synthesis, and probably for many of us the guide in these complex areas of research that have been so important for philosophical studies of biology in recent decades. We have included a description of his contribution written for his receipt of the 201 1 prize.
The second loss was that of Eric Davidson. He was one of the main participants in the alliance between molecular biology and embryology that generated developmental biology at the beginning of the 1 970s. His 1 968 book Gene Activity in Early Development had a huge impact. More recently, without abandoning his model organism, the sea urchin, he developed a systemic approach to gene regulatory networks. Interestingly, he was not so fond of the Modern Synthesis! His work is emblematic of the possibilities generated by circulation between different disciplines, as well as of the difficulties that may be encountered: a lesson for ISHPSSB members that the beautiful contribution of Manfred Laubichler, who closely collaborated with Davidson, will help us to understand.
Finally, Kenneth Waters suggests that members of our Society should organize a session during the next PSA Biennial Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia (3-5 November 201 6). You will find details in the description given by Ken. We strongly encourage you to submit us proposals. Before submission to the PSA, we will check that the proposal embodies the spirit of the ISHPSSB, with a view to raising awareness of our activities among the members of other societies.
Michel Morange President
2016 ISHPSSB Off-year Workshops
Off-Year Workshops offer an opportunity to ISHPSSB members to meet and discuss particular topics both in traditional and also in unconventional formats. It is also a way to encourage our youngest members to organize discussions on issues which promote their research career. For 201 6, the ISHPSSB Off-Year Workshop Committee selected two reunions, one devoted to extra-scientific issues in astrobiology and the other to the debate on function and malfunction in biological, biomedical and social sciences.
The complete information about the schedules and the application procedure can be found at the respective websites (see below for details and links).
SoCIA 2016: Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology
This workshop will be a place to discuss conceptual, ethical and meta-scientific issues about the emerging field of astrobiology. It is designed to promote discussion in an area that will probably become more important and which will offer very complex challenges in the coming years. It is open to researchers in any discipline interested in applying their expertise to thinking about astrobiology. The meeting will take place on 24-25 September at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina, USA. The deadline for applications is June 1 st. See the Call for Applications (http://kcs098.wix.com/socia).
Function and Malfunction in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences, and the Social Sciences
This workshop will reassess the modern philosophical debate on function in the dual perspective of (1 ) malfunction (or dysfunction), and (2) with respect to the use of such concepts in both the biological and the social sciences. Early-career scholars in the history and philosophy of the life sciences (including medicine) and early-career social scientists are invited to apply. The meeting will take place on 5-9 September 201 6 at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research in Klosterneuburg near Vienna, Austria. The deadline for applications has been extended to 15 April. See the Call for Papers (https://www.easpls201 6.kli.ac.at).
Off-Year Workshop Committee and Workshop Organizers
Toward the 2017 ISHPSSB Meeting
We are deeply involved with the development of the ISHPSSB 201 7 website (http://ishpssb201 7.abfhib.org/). Now we have a functional site, to which we will progressively add all the relevant information. Please visit it and start checking what we are preparing for next year. We particularly recommend that you check the “General information” and “Plan your trip” sections. In the latter, you will find important information about the Visa requirements, in case you need it to visit Brazil.
Meanwhile, we have been working to seek partnerships with prestigious Brazilian scientific institutions to support the meeting, and we have already made agreements with the Butantan Institute and the Brazilian Society of Genetics (SBG).
Created in 1901, the Butantan Institute is the main Brazilian producer of immunobiological products for public health purposes and is responsible for the majority of vaccines and sera produced in the country through its Technological Development and Production Division. The Cultural Development Center of the Institute sustains the Special Laboratory for the History of Science (LEHC), giving continuing education courses on the history of sanitary practices and publishing the journal Cadernos de História da Ciência (Notebooks on History of Science), available only in Portuguese. Besides that, the Institute develops studies and basic research in 17 different fields of Biology and Biomedicine directly or indirectly related to public health.
The Butantan Institute is located within the campus of the University of São Paulo. Together with the LEHC team, we are planning cooperation and some activities for the ISHPSSB attendants, such as guided visits to the scientific zoological collections and to its four Museums—Biological, Historical, of Microbiology and the Emilio Ribas Public Health Museum. To learn more about the Butantan Institute, please visit its website (http://www.butantan.gov.br/).
The Brazilian Society of Genetics (SBG) was founded in 1955 at Campinas, São Paulo, in a session chaired by the geneticist Frederico Gustavo Brieger. Besides its annual meetings, the society publishes the journal Genetics and Molecular Biology and Genética na Escola (Genetics in the School). The latter journal aims to disseminate educational experiences in the field of genetics, to provide reflections on genetic concepts, to discuss developments in technology related to the quality of life of the population, as well as to provide materials for classroom work, including the use of historical and philosophical approaches to the fields of Genetics, Molecular Biology and related areas.
SBG will support the ISHPSSB 2017 Meeting, assisting with advertising of the congress and promoting exchanges with its affiliates working with historical and/or philosophical references (as distinguished from theoretical or empirical genetic research itself). To learn more about SBG, please visit the website (http://www.sbg.org.br/ only in Portuguese).
The Local Organizing Committee is looking forward to see you all in São Paulo!
Maria Elice Prestes, Charbel El-Hani and Roberto de Andrade Martins
Chairs of Program and Local Arrangements Committees
Call for Proposals to Host the 2019 and 2021 Meetings
While our Brazilian colleagues are preparing for what will undoubtedly be a successful meeting in São Paulo in July 2017 (followed the next week by the 25th International Congress for the History of Science and Technology in Rio de Janeiro), the Site Selection Committee cordially invites ISHPSSB members to propose potential sites for the July 2019 meeting.
Our tradition of alternating between continents would suggest that the 201 9 meeting should be held in Europe, given that our 2015 meeting was in Canada and we will be in South America in 201 7. But it has also been several years (2011) since we’ve had an ISH meeting in the United States, whereas we met in France in 2013. So we particularly welcome proposals from other European venues as well as American sites.
Proposers should bear in mind that the Society prefers to meet in places that are appealing destinations, given that for many participants the meeting is a welcome occasion to combine work with some well-deserved holidays. It is also important that the site offer convenient travel infrastructure and affordable housing. More detailed guidelines about hosting are available from the ISH website (http://www.ishpssb.org/about/operations- manual/committees/site-selection-committee).
We welcome an initial expression of interest by 31 May 2016. The full proposal for the 2019 meeting is due by 30 November 2016.
It is, of course, impossible to anticipate what the future holds in terms of economic and social fluctuations, but we will certainly take this all into account when we evaluate proposals for ISH 2019, which will be presented at the Members’ Meeting in São Paulo.
And it is not too early to begin thinking ahead to the 2021 meeting! If you might be interested in the possibility of hosting an ISH meeting at your institution, please let me know. The Site Selection
Committee will be happy to provide you with information about the process of putting a proposal together.
Expressions of interest for the 2021 meeting must also be received by May 2016.
Marsha Richmond , Chair of the Site Selection Committee
Membership Development Committee Report
The Membership Development Committee grew recently from 4 to 14 members after Montreal (see http://www.ishpssb.org/about/present-committees). This reflects awareness that the tasks of this committee are increasingly salient to ISHPSSB members. Those of us on the committee between Montpellier and Montreal were unsuccessful with several piecemeal activities designed to stir up interest in ISHPSSB membership. Therefore, we are adopting a new approach that operates over a longer time horizon and is broader in scope.
Changes in the composition of the ISHPSSB council (and of our committee in particular) have meant that membership development efforts have not been sustained over more than a two-year cycle of biennial meetings. Given that ISHPSSB is creeping up on its thirtieth birthday, we are beginning to formulate a multi-year plan that will have short range goals, longer- term objectives, and a vision for what we want to look like as a society in 8-10 years. To that end, a number of our committee members are committing to stay involved beyond the 2017 São Paulo.
Regarding a broader scope, we want to think bigger than increasing our numbers in underrepresented disciplinary categories. Though this is clearly important, and remains a key component of our task—e.g., identifying and recruiting more social science scholars of biology—we are thinking hard about the global regions represented in ISHPSSB, especially Latin America and East Asia. In this regard, our committee’s diverse membership will be an asset. Additionally, we want to better represent those not employed in standard academic positions, and to attend to issues that confront scholars at different
stages of their careers. Our society needs to more intentionally reach out to a diversity of scholars and build ISHPSSB for the 21st century.
Alan Love and Emily Schultz , Chairs of the Membership Development Committee
Education Committee Report
Gregory Radick, Chair of the Education Committee
William Provine (1942-2015)
We historians of science have a tendency, following the evidence, to blur or even to reject wonderful stories that have been handed down for decades or generations. I have found it necessary to understand the history of science that is so real to scientists themselves.
Will Provine, “No Free Will,” Isis, 1999
At its meeting in 2011 , the International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology awarded the first David L. Hull Prize to William B. Provine for his extraordinary contributions to scholarship and service in ways that promoted interdisciplinary connections between history, philosophy, social studies, and biology and that fostered the careers of younger scholars. Below we reproduce a text excerpt written for that occasion and originally published in the issue 43 of this Newsletter (Fall 2011) which can communicate some of the traits and virtues of this scholar so important to many of our members.It is entirely fitting that we honor David Hull by recognizing Will Provine, whose teaching, mentoring, research, and engagement have won admiration and respect among biologists, historians, philosophers and social scientists who study biology. His teaching commitments at the undergraduate level include “Biology and Society,” a formal undergraduate major he helped to institute that has inspired other similar programs around the world. His mentoring of students has been accorded exceptional praise by many of his former students, some of whom are well known in the wider world. These qualities and accomplishments were honored by Cornell University when they bestowed on him the prestigious Clark Teaching Award in 1989.
Provine entered another arena, the exploration of “biology as ideology,” with two foundational articles that appeared in Science (1973) and American Zoologist (1986) demonstrating how race figured prominently in geneticists’ and biologists’ thinking in a critical early period of twentieth century biology. Both articles are extensively cited by historians, sociologists, anthropologists and other scholars of the social study of the biological sciences to this day.
Other close relationships with scientists included L. C. Dunn, Motoo Kimura, Tomoko Ohta, Tom Jukes, Jim Crow and especially Arthur J. Cain, with whom he published a number of papers. The trust that developed in these relationships led to their support of the historical and philosophical study of biology and led many of them to leave behind their own papers, libraries or substantive interviews that have subsequently enriched the work of other scholars.
Will Provine has an unflagging interest in getting others to appreciate the substance or the sciences he studies. He will talk to anyone about science—in the classroom, at the seminar table, but also in more unlikely places—for example in debates in front of sometimes unfriendly public audiences. He participates in such interchanges with unflagging respect and good humor. Thus, his
numerous debates with creationists and anti evolutionists, beginning with Philip Johnson in the early 1990s, established Provine’s leading position in this enduring contest and culminated with his appearance in Ben Stein’s notorious Expelled. But even before then, Provine’s engagement with dissenting opinions had become a hallmark of his personal style, which combines an unusual mixture of respect, curiosity, contrarianism and tolerance with respect to different views and perspectives.
Provine’s service to the community is therefore extensive, and far from traditional. Not one for formal offices or organizations, he has instead been a facilitator for people and has been especially encouraging to junior scholars. Early on he began to undertake oral history interviews with major figures reluctant to accept such attention, like Barbara McClintock before she got the Nobel Prize, sharing the results freely with other scholars. His famous library of reprint collections—approximately fourhundred thousand in all, garnered from the trusted friendships with scientists like Ernst Caspari, Norman Giles, Charles Uhl—and over 15,000 rare books, a number of which he obtained as a young man while he was a collector and bookseller of scientific works. He has shared these collegially with an international community of scholars with great ease, following up with helpful conversation, and, more than occasionally, a gourmet meal. All this treasured material for intellectual history has been donated to the Cornell Rare Book and Manuscript collections along with a bequest from Provine, to ensure that they continue to enable scholarly study and draw together scholars from several distinct communities.
A pioneering body of impeccable scholarship that has stood the test of time, a generosity of spirit balanced with a healthy dose of contrarianism, a tireless advocacy of interdisciplinarity and of academic freedom, and a record of public service in defense of evolution and its teaching, all characterize Will Provine’s lifework and serve as powerful reminders of the life and legacy of David Hull. The two were good friends working to enable interdisciplinary interactions and scholarship that are the mainstay of ISHPSSB. It is thus especially fitting that Will Provine is the first recipient of the David L. Hull Prize.
Chair of David L. Hull Prize Committee 2009-2011
Evolution is more than Petunia colors: Eric H. Davidson (1937-2015): in memoriam
Eric Davidson’s last book Genomic Control Process: Development and Evolution, co-authored with Isabelle Peter, was published half a year before his untimely death on September 1st 2015. In retrospect it can be seen as his scientific testament. In this book, Eric and Isabelle summarize decades of work on gene regulatory networks, their structure and function, and their role in explaining development and evolution. Compared to earlier syntheses—Eric had written five books before, each of them a concise argument based on the best available evidence at the time—Genomic Control Process adds two important dimensions: (1) the demonstration that the logic of developmental gene regulatory networks lends itself to computational approaches that also allow for in silico experimentation and (2) the implicit statement that traditional evolutionary theory is incomplete, as it is mainly a theory about the dynamics of change and, as such, does not offer a generative account of evolutionary stability. These two points should be of special interest to ISHPSSB members, as they challenge the theoretical foundations and epistemological assumptions of evolutionary and developmental biology. Eric’s whole career was devoted to the most fundamental problems in development and evolution. His driving question was how we can explain mechanistically the differentiation into different cell types within an embryo and subsequently how our understanding of development explains the evolution of phenotypes? His life-long investigative pathway led, with a few detours, from his first publication in 1953 (at age 16, the result of a summer internship at the Marine Biological Laboratory) to his final synthetic accounts. It is a pathway rich with milestones, such as his first book Gene Activity in Early Development, published in 1 968, which was one of the first overviews of what would soon become molecular developmental biology, the collaboration with Roy Britten and the famous Britten-Davidson model of developmental regulation, "Gene regulation for higher cells: a theory", published in 1 969 in Science, to his role in sequencing the sea-urchin genome, the analysis of what is still the best documented gene regulatory network (the endo-mesoderm network of Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, the purple sea urchin), the development of specialized software for the analysis, visualization and finally also simulation of gene regulatory networks. Along the way we find also contributions to paleontology, evolutionary theory and the history of science. Another one of his lasting accomplishments was his contribution to education. It included his books, especially the evolving series of eventually six synthetic volumes, and his involvement with the Marine Biological Laboratory, where he was one of the longest serving directors of the famous embryology course and, more recently, the creator of a new special topics course on Gene Regulatory Networks. The importance of these courses cannot be underestimated. Eric was the first who systematically applied principles and methods of molecular biology to the study of developmental processes. This was rooted in his firm epistemological conviction that development needs to be explained mechanistically and that the appropriate level for mechanistic explanations are molecular interactions. His emphasis on molecular mechanisms was paired with his conceptual vision that the genome is a complex regulatory system, a key insight that is the core of the Britten-Davidson model, one that has itself a long history in developmental biology, going back to Boveri, Goldschmidt and Kühn, all of whom championed versions of this idea. In the mid-1970s, when Eric was changing the embryology course curriculum at the MBL, these ideas were perceived as challenges to mainstream developmental biology and young students and post-docs were attracted to this new science (as well as to Eric’s unique personality) thus forming a new cohort of molecular developmental biologists. There are so many additional aspects to Eric’s unique personality and his science. But one, in particular, resonates with the mission of ISHPSSB: his immersion in and knowledge of the history of his field and how this knowledge guided his most innovative cutting-edge research program. Eric was a unique bridge-builder; between different areas of science as well as between the past, present and the future of his scientific field. It all began, appropriately enough, at the MBL, where Eric spent a summer as teenager in L.V. Heilbrunn’s lab. He later joined Heilbrunn at the University of Pennsylvania as an undergraduate and, during his senior year was given one task: to review and study all there is to know about classical embryology and Entwicklungsmechanik. The best source about this tradition was, of course, E.B. Wilson’s third edition of The Cell in Development and Heredity. So Eric worked his way through this book and many of its sources, thus becoming, until his death, a walking encyclopedia of the problems and results of several decades of work. This allowed him later to bring new methods to old problems, which was one of the defining features of his investigative pathway. Even though Eric was never a member, his whole approach to science, history and epistemology captures the essence of what we try to do at ISHPSSB. With Eric we all have lost a role model and this author has lost a dear friend and collaborator.
Call to Organize an ISHPSSB Session at the 2016 Philosophy of Science Association Meeting
The PSA Governing Board is inviting selected cognate societies to submit one proposal apiece for a special session during our upcoming biennial meeting in Atlanta (3-5 November 2016). The idea is to seek a broader representation of work in philosophy of science than has traditionally been represented on the regular program of our conference. We experimented with this at our 201 4 conference, and based on the number of cognate societies that organized sessions (see list below), audience sizes, and feedback on surveys, we have concluded that it was very successful. We are planning to improve upon this success in 2016.
We have set aside half a day of programming for cognate societies. The surveys from our last biennial conference indicated that Sunday morning might not have been the best time for the cognate sessions. So this year, we have set aside the first morning of our conference, Thursday morning (3 November), for cognate society sessions. We plan to schedule two ninety minute periods for these sessions (starting at 9 am and 1 0:45 am). Each period will have approximately eight to ten parallel sessions (we will schedule ten parallel sessions during the main conference program). PSA will provide meeting rooms and AV equipment (as we do for our main conference program). Sessions and participants will be listed on the official conference program and on-line schedules. Of course participants must register for the conference.
We are inviting ISHPSSB to submit a proposal. We will accept such proposals only when submitted by officers or governing or executive boards of the societies on behalf of the societies. We will not consider proposals submitted by individual members. Proposals should include information as described below. We will consider detailed proposals for sessions with structures different than those of traditional PSA symposia (e.g. panels).
No one is permitted to present more than once at PSA201 6 (excluding presentations at the poster forum). Thus, your proposal for a cognate session cannot include anyone as a presenter, commentator, or panelist who has been listed as a presenting author or commentator on a symposium or contributed paper submission accepted by the regular program committee. The regular program committee is expected to make its decisions before the July 1 st deadline for cognate society proposals (and if decisions are delayed, we will extend the deadline for cognate societies).
PSA will only lightly vet (for appropriateness of content, conformation with once on the program rule).We hope that ISHPSSB will help us make PSA 2016 a diverse and inclusive meeting by submitting a proposal.
C. Kenneth Waters
President, Philosophy ofScience Association
Instructions for proposals from cognate societies:Proposals must include:
- The title of the proposed session
- A short descriptive summary of the proposal (100-200 words)
- A description of the topic and a justification of its current importance to the discipline (up to 1,000 words)
- Titles and abstracts of all papers, with up to 500 words for the title and abstract of each paper (or equivalent information for alternative formats
-A list of participants and either an abbreviated curriculum vitae or short biographical description (not to exceed 1 page) for each participant, including any non-presenting co-authors.
- Institutional affiliation and e-mail addresses for all
participants, including any non-presenting co-
Please note that in accordance with current PSA policy:
- No previously published paper may be presented at the PSA meeting.
- No one will be permitted to present more than once at PSA201 6. Thus, if a symposium proposal in which you are a presenting author is accepted, you cannot submit a contributed paper for which you are the presenting author. A scholar may appear as co- author on more than one paper or symposium talk, but may present at PSA201 6 only once (excluding presentations at the poster forum).
- Any individual can be part of only one symposium proposal in which he or she is a presenting author.
- If an approved symposium subsequently loses participants, the cognate society should inform the PSA and send alternates to maintain the quality and coherence of the session and adherence to PSA policies including the once on the program.
List of Cognate Societies that Organized Sessions for PSA 2014- FEMMSS (Feminist Epistemologies, Methodologies, Metaphysics and Science Studies)
- International History, Philosophy, and Science Teaching Group
- International Philosophy of Mathematics Association
- Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable
- Philosophy of Social Science Roundtable
- Society for Philosophy of Technology
- Society for the Philosophy of Science in Practice
- SRPo/iSE: Socially Relevant Philosophy of/in Science and Engineering