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Science studies encompasses a broad range of meta-scientific analyses, including philosophy, history, and sociology of science. This lecture series aims to create opportunities to learn about and discuss latest topics in these fields.

Dec. 6, 2016   Pablo Lorenzano (CEFHIC-UNQ/CONICET, Argentina)

Laws, theories, and scientific practices: the Hardy-Weinberg law and population genetics

Dec. 6, 2016 |  3pm−5pm
Room 310, Sendoken Building, SOKENDAI Hayama Campus


On one hand, several authors have sustained the centrality of population genetics within biology, either because it constitutes the core of the theory of evolution (Ruse 1973) or because it constitutes a central part of, or has been incorporated to, or has a certain essential relation to, the theory of evolution (Thompson 1983, 1989, Lloyd 1984, 1988, Sintonen 1991, Tuomi & Haukioja 1979, Tuomi 1981, 1988, 1992, Moya 1989), at least since the development of the so-called “synthesis” (Huxley 1942) between the theory of evolution by natural selection and classical genetics carried out in the 1930s and 1940s. On the other hand, one of its laws, namely, the law (or principle) of Hardy-Weinberg, is one of the referred laws when the existence of laws in biology is discussed, which is even considered by some authors the fundamental law of population genetics, however, of a special kind, namely, of a non-empirical, a priori or analytical one (Sober 1997, Elgin 2003).
The aim of this presentation is to analyze the status of the Hardy-Weinberg law within (classical) population genetics. The analysis will be carried out with the notions of the structuralist view of theories, especially those of fundamental law (or guiding principle), specialization, and special law, having as a background a rational reconstruction of (classical) population genetics – sketched in this communication –  made within the framework of such a metatheory. Our analysis will allow a better understanding of the status of the Hardy-Weinberg law in (classical) population genetics – not as its fundamental law, but as one of its a special laws – as well as of the scientific practice in (classical) population genetics – where there is still room for considering the Hardy-Weinberg law central for that.

 Nov. 1, 2016   Erica Torrens (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)

Darwin’s Trees: Visual Metaphors of Biological Order

Nov. 6, 2016 |  3pm−5pm
Room 310, Sendoken Building, SOKENDAI Hayama Campus


Few other scientific theories have become so much a part of western culture as the theory of evolution. The evolutionary theory by natural selection is the dominant idea in science and central to today’s biological thinking and environmental concerns. At the heart of these ideas lies the notion of the ‘tree of life.’
It is commonplace to assume that this idea derives from Charles Darwin himself. In my talk I will explain that history tells us otherwise.  To be sure, one of the most fundamental concepts of Darwin’s argument in 1859 was that species share a common origin from a single ancestor and have subsequently diverged through time. In the fourth chapter of his book, On the Origin of Species, Darwin included a picture that he used as evidence for this notion. His diagram is an abstract and irregular design, not a tree in a literal sense, and not described by Darwin as such. In his subsequent books, Darwin never included any other depictions of this kind. Why is it, then, that popular accounts of evolution always use the image of a ‘tree’?
In this ​seminar, I will first trace the history of ideas about trees in animal and plant classification from very early times and also look carefully at ‘trees’ in other fields such as human genealogy and linguistics. This sets the scene for a fresh look at Darwin’s contributions to this visual imagery (we will explore Darwin’s tree pictures chronologically, and how they furthered his own researches).
Then, I will continue the tree story after Darwin, moving from late Victorian popular culture right up to the twenty-first century, presenting several new interpretations and a wealth of fascinating visual material drawn from scientific and popular texts and old displays in natural history museums.
In short, this talk will take the audience on a fabulous visual journey through the extraordinary imagery that has explained evolutionary theory to many thousands of readers and museum visitors for more than 100 years.