Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Archive for the ‘Philosophy of Biology’ Category

Talk at Bilkent 31 March: Mehmet Elgin

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Mehmet Elgin (Muğla University)

“Why Do Evolutionary Biologists Formulate A Priori Laws Rather Than Empirical Laws?”

Friday 31 March, 2017, 11-12:30, G160.



Abstract: Unlike any branch of physics, evolutionary biology is peppered with a priori mathematical models. It is important to explain why this is the case. I will argue that when we examine the principle of natural selection carefully, we see that this law relates fitness to gene frequencies. Fitness appealed to in this law is stripped away from any physical or biological details and it represents a mere mathematical value. When we relate this value to gene frequencies, we are relating two mathematical values. As a result we end up with a priori laws. I will then provide a more general argument for this fact: Fitness is a genuine multiply realizable property. Only laws that can be formulated about genuinely multiply realizable states are a priori laws. Therefore, only laws that can be formulated about fitness are a priori laws. I will finally argue that such a priori laws in evolutionary biology have very important functions: They are essential for us to be able to formulate empirically testable causal hypotheses about the evolution of specific populations and they are also indispensable in developing causal explanations systematically.

Written by Sandrine Berges

March 27, 2017 at 3:30 pm

BETİM seminar Stephen Snyder: Changing Human Nature – A Case for Intergenerational Justice 4 Nov. 2015

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Changing Human Nature – A Case for Intergenerational Justice

Seminar by Stephen Snyder

St. Louis (MO)/İstanbul

Visiting Professor, Bosphorus University

Wed. 4 November 2015, 5.15-6.30 pm

Language of the event: English, no simultaneous translation


Click on poster to enlarge

All welcome, registration not required.

for directions see



Written by rainerbroemer

October 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy of Biology

Tagged with , ,

Two-Day Conference on Neurology, Philosophy of Biology, and Artificial Intelligence, organized by Koç University Philosophy Department (Venue: Beyoglu – RCAC)

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  • Speakers include but are not limited to: Bernard Stiegler (Université de Technologie Compiègne), Alva Noë (University of California, Berkeley), Barry Smith (University of London), and Güven Güzeldere (Harvard University)Poster

Conference Program

May 25th  Saturday

9.30 Opening

9.45-11.45 First Session

  Hilmi Demir: “A Recent History of Philosophy of Mind: Convergence Points between Cognitive Sciences and Phenomenology”

 Barış Korkmaz: “Self: Neuroscience and Psychoanalysis”

Aziz Zambak: “Plasticity: The Forgotten Principle in Artificial Intelligence”

11:45-12:00 Coffee Break

12:00-13:00  Second Session

Bernard Stiegler: “From Neuropower to Noopolitics”

13:00-14:30 Lunch Break

14:30:16:30 Third Session

Patrick Roney: “Neuro-aesthetics”

Zeynep Direk: “Neuroethics and the question of alterity”

Stephen Voss: “What do I mean when I say I”

May 26th Sunday

 9:30-10:30 First Session

Alva Noë: “The Fragile Manifest: Presence in Thought and Experience”

10:30-10:45 Coffee Break 

10:45-12:45 Second Session

Barry Smith: “Are Flavours in the Brain? The Phenomenology and Neuroscience of Flavour Perception”

Güven Güzeldere: “Unity of Consciousness in a Divided Brain?” 

 12:45-14:30 Lunch Break

14:30-16:30 Third Session

Fuat Balcı: “Reward Maximization: The Role of Time and its Psychophysics”

Emrah Aktunç: “On Bickle’s ‘Ruthless Reductionism in Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience: What are they Reducing?”

Hakan Gürvit: “Plasticity: Via Regia to the Neuroscientific Subjectivity”

Venue: Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations – Beyoglu

Venue Map

Two talks by Anne Fausto-Sterling (Brown) in Istanbul to celebrate International Women’s Day (March 6th and 8th, 2013)

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Anne Fausto-Sterling (Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of Biology and Gender Studies, Brown University) will be giving two talks in Istanbul to celebrate international women’s day. Details can be found here:


Written by Lucas Thorpe

February 25, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Talk at Bogazici: Mehmet Elgin (Mugla) on “What is Science? Popper and Evolutionary Theory” (26/11/2012)

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Mehmet Elgin (Mugla) will give a talk on Monday 26/11/2012 at Bogazici University, from 5-7pm in TB130.

“What is Science? Popper and Evolutionary Theory”

ABSTRACT: Karl R. Popper notoriously claimed that “I have come to the conclusion that Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research programme – a possible framework for testable scientific theories” (Popper, Unended Quest, p. 195). He later claimed that “The theory of natural selection may be so formulated that it is far from tautological. In this case it is not only testable, but it turns out to be not strictly universally true” Popper (1978), “Natural Selection and the Emergence of Mind”, Dialectica, p. 345-346. When Popper claimed that evolutionary theory is a metaphysical research program, he was relying on an a priori philosophical principle about scientific methodology. When he changed his mind, he was reformulating a scientific principle in a way that it would satisfy the conditions of to be scientific proposed by him on a priori grounds. Thus, Popper was judging the status of empirical science on the basis of a priori philosophical intuitions concerning scientific methodology that did not take scientific practice seriously. I find this approach quite problematic and I propose to show why such a strategy of doing philosophy of science hinders our understanding of science by focusing on the role and the function of the Hardy-Weinberg Law in population genetics.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

November 18, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Talk at Bogazici next Tuesday (Aug 7th, 2012) by Russell Powell on ‘“Biological Evolution in a Technological Species”

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Russell Powell (Boston University) will give a talk at Bogazici University next Tuesday, August 7th, from 17.00 to 19.00 in TB130.  Everyone welcome
“Biological Evolution in a Technological Species”
Abstract: It is common in both scientific and humanistic disciplines to claim that biological evolutionary rates in modern humans are significantly impeded if not totally negated by the robust cultural and technological capabilities of the human species. I call this the ‘human evolutionary equilibrium argument’. The aim of this talk is to make sense of and evaluate this claim. I first develop the argument that humans are ‘insulated’ from ordinary evolutionary mechanisms in terms of our contemporary biological understandings of phenotypic plasticity, niche construction, and cultural transmission. I then consider two obvious objections to the human evolutionary equilibrium argument based on the growing literatures related to gene-culture coevolution and recent positive selection on the human genome, and I offer a pair of less common objections relating to the connection between plasticity, population size and evolvability. Finally, I argue that the human evolutionary equilibrium argument is premised on a fundamental conceptual flaw: namely, it takes biological stasis for granted. I conclude that biological evolution is a permanent and ineradicable fixture of any species, Homo sapiens included.
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Written by Lucas Thorpe

August 3, 2012 at 2:55 pm