Seventh European Advanced School in the Philosophy of the Life Sciences (EASPLS) “Explanation and Evidence in Biology and Medicine”

September 9, 2024 - September 12, 2024
Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research

Martinstraße 12
Klosterneuburg 3400


Bielefeld University
Universidad Complutense de Madrid


University of the Basque Country
CNRS, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

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The seventh edition of the biennial European Advanced School in the Philosophy of the Life Sciences (EASPLS) will take place at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI), in Klosterneuburg (Austria). The school is primarily aimed  at  young scholars (PhD students and early post-doctoral researchers) working in the history, philosophy and social studies of the biological, biomedical, and environmental sciences. The topic of this edition is “Explanation and Evidence in Biology and Medicine”.

 What is the EASPLS?

The European Advanced School for the Philosophy of the Life Sciences is a biennial event that aims at fostering research, facilitating collaborations, and providing professional training to students in the field of the philosophy, history, and social studies of the life sciences, broadly construed. EASPLS is organized by a consortium of the following European top-level institutions in the area of philosophy, history and social studies of the life sciences:

Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities; University of Geneva, Switzerland

Egenis, the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences; University of Exeter, UK

Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI), Klosterneuburg, Austria

IAS Research Centre for Life, Mind and Society; University of the Basque Country, San Sebastian, Spain

Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IHPST); University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne & CNRS, France

Institute for Philosophy in Biology & Medicine (PhilInBioMed) & ImmunoConcEpT lab, University of Bordeaux & CNRS, France

Institute of Philosophy & Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences (CELLS); Leibniz University Hannover, Germany

Section for History and Philosophy of Science, Department of Science Education; University of Copenhagen, Denmark


The 7th EASPLS is structured around different forms of participation and aims at fostering interactions among participants and between participants and senior researchers (instructors). The schedule mixes:

Two lectures by guest specialists:

Marie Kaiser (Bielefeld University)

Laura Nuño de la Rosa (Complutense University of Madrid)

Morning lectures given by instructors senior researchers from each consortium institution (instructors) on a variety of topics related to “Explanation and evidence in Biology and Medicine” (readings may be circulated in advance).

In the afternoon (first part), group work addressing questions and issues raised by the morning lectures.

In the afternoon (second part), general discussion introduced by commentaries on the morning lectures provided by each group.

During the week, special sessions will be dedicated to career development to help students navigate the difficult academic environment and to help create a healthier one for the future.

Topic of EASPLS 2024: “Explanation and Evidence in Biology and Medicine”

Many scientific activities are focused on the elaboration of explanation and evidence for knowledge claims. Philosophy of biology deals with  the distinctive ways explanation is carried out in biological sciences, and has emerged to respond to the inadequacies of the deductive nomological model, when applied to the life sciences. Philosophy of medicine has discussed the role of statistical evidence and mechanistic explanations in our understanding of disease and evaluation of medical interventions.

In both biology and medicine, debates about explanation have then been framed around general issues such as reductionism vs. anti-reductionism or hypothesis-driven vs. data-driven approaches, generality vs specificity, the importance of the context of explanation, the epistemic status of models and idealizations, the role of practice, etc. Various and sometimes overlapping explanatory strategies have been identified as deployed by scientists and philosophers to specifically deal with living phenomena including evolutionary, mechanistic, teleological and functional, structural, topological and organizational. Such strategies are often influenced by evidential practices - i.e. what researchers view as actionable or plausible evidence for their claims, and whether they think such evidence is or could be made available, or not.

The goal of the  EASPLS 2024 is to train participants in the philosophical debates on explanation and evidence in the life sciences, the existing strategies, their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their mutual relations. Using examples from past and current sciences, EASPLS 2024 will analyze and reflect on explanation in different fields of the life and medical sciences and its relation to evidential practices. Instructors and invited speakers will address the topic from a wide variety of perspectives, so as to represent the diversity of positions advocated in the literature and to foster debate.


Applications should be sent to [email protected]

The application includes:

A letter of motivation (max 500 words)

A short Curriculum Vitae (max 3 pages)

The deadline for applications is March 30th. Applicants will be notified of decisions by April 30th.


Registration fees are 300 €. The summer school will cover lunches and two dinners. Participants will take care of their own accommodation and travel expenses. The school may provide financial support for students’ participation. Please write to  [email protected].

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March 30, 2024, 11:45pm CET

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