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ISHPSSB & ABFHiB 2017 Meeting

Conference program

Plenary sessions

The plenary sessions of the ISHPSSB & ABFHiB 2017 Meeting will occur at the auditorium of the International Broadcast Center (CDI, Centro de Difusão Internacional, em Português) of the University of São Paulo, within walking distance of the Institute of Biosciences.


There will be two conferences by invited speakers, one of them on Monday and the other one on Wednesday. Both will happen from 17:30 to 19:00 o'clock. 

The invited speakers will be Dr. Naomi Oreskes, from Harvard University, and Dr. Kevin N. Laland, from the Center for Biological Diversity, School of Biology, University of St. Andrews, U.K.

Oreskes Laland

Dr. Oreskes is Professor of the history of science and affiliated professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University, and an internationally renowned geologist, science historian, and author.  She received a B.Sc. (First Class Honours) in Mining Geology from the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College, London (1981) and then worked as an exploration geologist in the Australian outback. In 1990 she received an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Geological Research and History of Science from Stanford University. She joined the faculty at Harvard in 2013 after 15 years at the University of California, San Diego.
Professor Oreskes is the author of both scholarly and popular books and articles on the history of earth and environmental science, including The Rejection of Continental Drift (Oxford, 1999), Plate Tectonics: An Insider’s History of the Modern Theory of the Earth (Westview, 2003), and in recent decades has been a leading voice on the issue of anthropogenic climate change. Professor Oreskes’ current research projects include completion of a scholarly book on the history of Cold War Oceanography, Science on a Mission: American Oceanography from the Cold War to Climate Change (Chicago, forthcoming), and Assessing Assessments: A Historical and Philosophical Study of Scientific Assessments for Environmental Policy in the Late 20th Century.

You can learn more on Dr. Oreskes' researches and activities in:

Dr. Oreskes will address the conference:

Can Science Be Viewed as ex ante Authoritative in a Post-Factual World?

In 2016, a scholar associated with the American Enterprise Institute, a think-tank dedicated to “strengthening the free enterprise system” posed the question: “[H]ow [can] scientific analysis conducted or funded by an agency headed by political appointees buffeted by political pressures can be viewed ex ante as any more authoritative than that originating from, say, the petroleum industry?”  One might be tempted to dismiss a question like this, posed as it was by someone associated with an institute famous for its attacks on climate science and scientists. But the question is a legitimate one.  In a world that many view as “post-factual,” how can scientific analysis be viewed as ex ante authoritative?  Why should the conclusions of a scientific community be viewed ex ante as more authoritative than that originating from the petroleum industry? Or the tobacco industry? Or Coca-Cola?

This paper addresses the question from the vantage point of the past decades of scholarship in history, philosophy, and social studies of science. I argue that the answer involves the social practices of science—particularly the practices of communal critical interrogation emphasized by feminist scholars of science—and the track records of private enterprise. Despite the various pressures that may buffet scientists—in government agencies, the private sector, or anywhere else—so long as they are participating in scientific communities—presenting their work at conferences and submitting it for peer-review and publication—and so long as the communities in which they practice are diverse, we have a basis for ex ante trust.

The processes of critical interrogation, however, rely on an assumption of good faith: that participants are interested in learning about natural world and have a shared interest in factual information. History shows that assumption is often violated in the private sector, where fraudulent and misleading claims have been used to defend dangerous products and protect corporate profits. Often these claims have been presented as scientific, yet have not been subjected to the tests of critical scrutiny, or have been so subjected and failed those tests.  That is to say, the “scientific” claims of industry are often not scientific, and this is why, ex ante, we have reason to suspect them.

Dr. Laland is Professor of Behavioural and Evolutionary Biology at the University of St Andrews, and prior to that held positions at UCL, UC Berkeley and Cambridge Universities.  His principle academic interests are in the general area of animal behaviour and evolution, with a specific focus on animal social learning and innovation, the evolution of cognition, niche construction, and the extended evolutionary synthesis. He has published over 200 scientific articles on these topics, and been the recipient of more than £15m in grant income. He has also authored 10 books, including Niche Construction: The Neglected Process in Evolution (with John Odling-Smee and Marc Feldman, Princeton UP, 2003), Sense and Nonsense. Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behaviour, 2nd Ed. (with Gillian Brown, Oxford UP, 2011), Social Learning: an Introduction to Mechanisms, Methods and Models (with William Hoppitt, Princeton UP, 2013), and Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony: How Culture Made the Human Mind (Princeton UP, 2017). He is an Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, and Project leader of “Putting the extended evolutionary synthesis to the test”, that can be known at:

You can learn more on Dr. Laland'' researches and activities in:

Dr. Kevin N. Laland will address the conference:

What use is an extended evolutionary synthesis?

Abstract. Alternative conceptual frameworks can be of value to scientific fields to the extent that they stimulate new hypotheses, lead to new insights, open up novel lines of enquiry, or prove generative in other ways.  The extended evolutionary synthesis (EES) is new a way to think about and understand evolutionary phenomena that differs from the conception that has dominated evolutionary thinking since the 1930s (i.e., the modern synthesis). The EES retains the fundamentals of evolutionary theory, but stands out in its emphasis on the role of developmental processes, which share with natural selection responsibility for the direction and rate of evolution, the diversity of life, and the process of adaptation. The EES emphasizes that phenotypic variation is not random, that there is more to inheritance than genes, and that there are multiple routes to the adaptive fit between organisms and environments. I spell out the structure, core assumptions and novel predictions of the EES, contrasting these with more traditional expectations. The EES does not replace traditional thinking, but rather can be deployed alongside it to stimulate and advance research within evolutionary biology.

The awards ceremony and the ISHPSSB general meeting will also occur at the same place and time, on Thursday. 


ISHPSSB & ABFHiB 2017 Meeting   
International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB)   
Associação Brasileira de Filosofia e História da Biologia (ABFHiB)   
São Paulo, Brazil, 16 to 21 July, 2017   

São Paulo, Brazil
16 to 21 July, 2017

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