The Chair research program comprises three major projects that all aim at fostering collaborations between the sciences and philosophy. These projects concern (1) the question of the origins of life and the formalization of the concept of chemical evolution, (2) the critical analysis of the concept of biodiversity, and (3) the analysis of the different explanatory patterns one finds in science and, in particular, in biology.
Project 1. The principles of chemical evolution
The research project includes a set of historical, conceptual and critical analyses of the scientific notion of « chemical evolution » that aims at explaining how non-living matter has evolved into living matter on primitive Earth, before the appearance of Darwinian biological evolution. By mobilizing the methodologies of history and philosophy of science, the objective is to shed new light on the very first evolutionary mechanisms that lie at the heart of one of the most fascinating scientific question: that of the origins of life.
After being financed through the UQAM strategic research chair program in 2015-2016, the project is currently funded through the Canada Research Chair program (2016-2020).
Project 2. Epistemology of biodiversity concepts
This research project is a joint project with Frédéric Bouchard (Université de Montréal). The project aims at analyzing the concept of biodiversity and its different usages by looking at the objects of biodiversity and their relationship with the concept of life. It also aims at making sense of the plurality of meanings that the concept currently receives, and at probing the philosophical arguments in favour of conceptual pluralism.
This project is financed by a research grant from the « Insight program » of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) (2014-2018).
Project 3. Scientific explanation in biology
The research project investigates how scientific explanation works in the biological sciences, in particular through an analysis of the limits of the mechanistic model of explanation when applied to complex biological systems. One of the main achievements of the this project has been the edition of a collective volume (18 chapters) published by Springer in 2015 (see Publications)