Deadline: 26th of
associated with the fellowship (FFI2008-06348-C02-01):
'EXPLAINING BIOLOGICAL ORGANIZATION: BETWEEN MECHANICISM AND AUTONOMY'
Department: Logic and Philosophy of
Science, University of the Basque Country
More information about how to apply: click here (micinn web page)
'Open Questions on the Origins of Life'
May 20-24th, 2009
Luigi Luisi (Dept. of Biology,
UniRomaTre, Italy) and Kepa Ruiz-Mirazo (UPV/EHU, Spain)
Co-organizers: Félix M. Goñi (Biophysics Research Unit, CSIC -- UPV/EHU) and Alvaro Moreno (Dept. of Logic and Philosophy of Science, UPV/EHU)
The overall idea behind this workshop is to tackle some key questions about the origin of life that are still unanswered and try to clarify why it is so, as well as investigate how to progress further in the field on the basis of this documentation. The main unsolved questions will be about the synthesis of RNA, the origin and structure of proto-metabolism, the plausibility and evolutionary potential of macromolecular sequences, the appearance and relevance of the first protocells,… (see more details below). The original idea of the meeting is to formulate such questions in advance, present them to the speakers before the meeting, and have the speakers address them directly in their contribution.
In the field of origins of life (as in any other field)
there is the
tendency and the danger for each of us to keep working on his/her own
field, regardless of the big questions which are still unsolved. It is
from time to time, to ask “where are we in the field, and which are
stumbling blocks on the road”. In addition, we have to mention that a
was already held, in a preliminary form, in
As an additional motivation, year 2009 will be the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth, on the 12th of February 1809, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species, on 24 November 1859. Therefore, we include our workshop as part of the events that will be organized all around the world to celebrate such a special year.
Seven or eight questions will be chosen, out of an initial list of 14 (see below), once the organizers collect all the feedback expected from potential contributors and a wide representation of the community of researchers interested in the field of origins of life. This process is open at present and will be finished by the end of the summer -- beginning of autumn. In this way, the final selection of questions will be given to the contributors beforehand. The meeting will consist of 4 full days and 8 sessions (one in the morning, one in the afternoon), the last one being devoted to a general conclusion and outlook. The other seven sessions will be each focused on one single question, and 3 panelists (the speakers) will directly address them -- no standard talk, just answering the question. This will mean 20 min. for each of the 3 panelists, followed by a dialogue between them; and finally, in addition, one hour discussion with the plenum.
each session will involve at least one hour discussion with the
This will be done by a method that has already been experimented with
The participants will be divided in small groups, of 4-5 people each.
group will discuss the contributions of the 3 panelists (in about 30
will come out with a main question/comment or criticism. One
each group will present such a comment in plenum (max. 10min.),
followed by the
answer of the panelists. So, overall, each session will last
and a half hours. This type of interaction is the best way to get a
involvement of the young participants.
1. Contingency versus determinism in the origin of life.
2. Is life an emergent property?
3. Heterotrophic versus autotrophic scenarios.
4. On the origin of catalytic cycles
5. On the origin of specific macromolecular sequences
6. Plausibility of the ‘RNA world’ hypothesis
7. Why this…and not that?
8. Proto-cellular world (a): gap to minimal cell?
9. Proto-cellular world (b): lipid-type dichotomy
10. Life as unity or confederacy?
11. Ecology and individuality
12. Defining the very origin of life
13. About the anthropic principle (AP)
14. Critical perspective on the entire field of the origin of life
In this workshop we aim to review and discuss the state of the art regarding the nature of explanations in biology. In particular, we would like to address the problems faced by traditional mechanicism and molecular reductionism in order to account for biological organization.
this aim we have invited
Profs. William Bechtel (
At a time when biology is transitioning from the molecular and geneticist approaches that were so influential in the second part of the 20th century, towards more interdisciplinary, systemic and synthetic ways of tackling research, we consider that it is especially important to reflect on these issues and come out with a better picture of what could be the epistemological foundations of 21st century life sciences.
Alvaro Moreno, Jon Umerez, Arantza Etxeberria, Kepa Ruiz-Mirazo, Antonio Casado
VENUE: Sala de
Juntas de FICE / FIHEZIko Batzar Aretoan
VENUE: Sala de
Juntas de FICE / FIHEZIko Batzar Aretoan
Tolosa etorbidea, 70. 20018 Donostia – San Sebastián
Mechanism and Biological Explanation (W. Bechtel)
Some remarks on Emergence and Reductionism (J. Umerez)
Beyond Self-organization: Hypothetical Mechanisms for Self-construction (K. Ruiz-Mirazo)
The Increasing Place of Macromolecular Machines in the Descriptions of Molecular Biologists: What Role Do They Play in Explanations? (M. Morange)
Explanation in Alife and Synthetic Biology (A. Etxeberria)
17:30- General Discussion (A. Moreno)
During the 27th and 28th April, 2006 we held a workshop under
the titel "Organizational Principles in Biology".
As invited speakers we had Evelyn Fox Keller, Andrés Moya, Diego Raskin Gutman y Juli Peretó.
For more information the full program is available for download.
Information about how to get here can be found at the Department's
of Logic and Philsophy of Science.
During the 15th April, 2005 we held a workshop under
the title "Evolution".
As invited speakers we had Jean Gayon.
FApril 15th, friday
15.45: IAS Group (UPV/EHU)- Workshop presentation
16.00: Jean Gayon (U. Paris) – From Darwin to today in evolutionary biology.
17.30: Discussion - Workshop