The Biology of Behaviour: Explanatory Pluralism Across the Life Sciences

May 10, 2018 - May 11, 2018
Department of Philosophy, Université du Québec à Montreal

455, Boulevard René-Lévesque Est

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


  • Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of the Life Sciences
  • Centre Interuniversitaire de recherche en sciences et technologies


Université du Québec à Montreal
Université du Québec à Montréal

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The colloquium will reunite philosophers and scientists who work on the question of explanatory pluralism in the context of explaining the behaviour of entities at all levels of organization, from single-celled organisms to plants, invertebrates, mammals, humans, groups, populations, or even ecosystems. 


Thursday, May 10th

9:00-12:30 - Non-human behaviour and typology of behaviors

  • Clint Kelly (Department of Biological Sciences, UQAM)
    The legacy and future of Tinbergen’s four questions
  • Wayne Sossin (Department of Neurosurgery and Neurology, and Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, McGill University)
    Can one understand 'behaviour' at the molecular level? Experiences from the simple model system of aplysia
  • Eric Muszynski & Christophe Malaterre (Department of Philosophy, UQAM)
    Best behaviour: a proposal for a non-binary conceptualization of behaviour in biology
  • James Cahill (Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta)
    Brainless behaviour:  experiments in plant behavioural ecology

12:30-14:00 - Lunch buffet (for speakers and registered attendees)

14:00-16:45 - Human behaviour, proximal and distal explanation

  • Luc FaucherPierre Poirier (Department of Philosophy, UQAM)
    A New Hope: a better ICM to explain the biosocial construction of human realities
  • Eric Turkheimer & Lucas Matthews (Department of Psychology, University of Virginia)
    Across the great divide: connecting distal genetic causes and complex human behavior
  • Kathryn Plaisance (Department of Knowledge Integration and Department of Philosophy, University of Waterloo)
    Understanding ‘what could be’: an empirical study combining a randomized intervention with behavioral genetic methods and its implications for philosophical accounts of the scientific study of human behavior

Friday, May 11th

9:00-12:30 - Behaviour of collectives and integration questions

  • Simon Reader (Department of Biology, McGill University)
    Why mechanisms matter in the evolution of behaviour: debates on social learning
  • Emma Despland (Department of Biology, Concordia University)
    The ‘how’ and ‘why’ of collective locomotion in social caterpillars
  • Helen E. Longino (Department of Philosophy, Stanford University)
    Scaling up; scaling down: What’s missing?
  • Eric Hochstein (Department of Philosophy, University of Victoria)
    Learning the right lessons from ontic theories of explanation

12:30-13:30 - Lunch buffet (for speakers and registered attendees)

13:30-15:00 - Human behaviour, intentionality and gender

  • Colin Allen (Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh)
    A place for intentional explanation?
  • Esther Rosario & Ingo Brigandt (Department of Philosophy, University of Alberta)
    Gender based brain studies and methodological plurality

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May 7, 2018, 8:00am EST

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