Abstracts – Final Conference ERC IDEM

Final Conference ERC IDEM


Thomas Bosch
(Professor of General Zoology at Kiel University, Germany)

Nadine Cerf-Bensussan
(Director of Research INSERM, IMAGINE Institut and University Paris Descartes, France)

Gérard Eberl
(Professor of Immunology, Institut Pasteur, France)

Setting the reactivity of the immune system early in life: the microbiota again

Ford Doolittle
(Professor Emeritus at Dalhousie University, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Halifax, Canada)

John Dupré
(Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Exeter, UK)

Scott Gilbert
(Professor Emeritus of Developmental Biology at Swarthmore College, USA)

Paul Griffiths
(Professor of Philosophy at Charles Perkins Center, University of Sydney, Australia)

Part, Process and Pregnancy

In this lecture, I use some recent work in the metaphysics of pregnancy to develop an account of biological individuality. Kingma (2018, In Press) has proposed that the fetus is a part of the mother as well as a part of the offspring, raising the more general issue of whether and when organisms share parts. Griffiths and Stotz (2018) proposed a developmental systems account of the organism according to which an organism is a process whose principle of genidentity is a life-history strategy. This lecture brings these two ideas together. To allow a more concrete treatment, I ignore all but the genetic elements of the developmental system. The central issue, I suggest, is whether the phenotype that a genetically individuated organism manifests at in some age class is an expression of the life-history strategy of that genetic individual, or the strategy of another genetic individual(s), or some compromise between these. This perspective is implicit in some existing scientific discussions of the identity of the placenta and associated structures. More generally, the question of whether some event forms part of one or more organisms turns on whether that event is under the causal control of one or more processes which implement a life-history strategy. Many events will form part of more than one life-history and as such will be ‘contested’ events whose character state represents an equilibrium in a process of evolutionary conflict. This perspective on biological individuality offers a new, and potentially quite precise, way to address questions of individuality in microbiome research.

Griffiths, P.E., and K Stotz. 2018. “Developmental Systems Theory as a Process Theory.” In Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology, by Daniel J. Nicholson and John Dupre, 225–45. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press.
Kingma, Elselijn. 2018. “Lady Parts: The Metaphysics of Pregnancy.” Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements 82 (July): 165–87.
Kingma, Elselijn. 2019 “Were You a Part of Your Mother?” Mind 128, no. 511 (July 1, 2019): 609–46.


Margaret McFall-Ngai
(Professor and Director of the Pacific Biosciences Research Center, University of Hawaii-Manoa, USA)

The role of small RNAs in the control of symbiosis

Sarkis K. Mazmanian
(Luis & Nelly Soux Professor of Microbiology, Division of Biology and Biological Engineering, California Institute of Technology, USA)

The Gut Microbiome-Brain Connection to Animal Behavior



Samir Okasha
(Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Bristol, UK)

On the very idea of ‘biological individuality’


Thomas Pradeu
(CNRS Senior Investigator in Philosophy of Science, PI of the ERC IDEM project, CNRS & University of Bordeaux, France) –

The Microbiome and Extended Physiological Individuality

Joan Roughgarden
(Professor of Biology, Emerita, at Stanford University and Adjunct Professor at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii-Manoa, USA)

Holobiont Evolution: Mathematical Model for Vertical vs. Horizontal Microbiome Transmission, Microbiome Community Structure, and Host-Microbiome Coadaptation

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