Flavia Fabris at the Biological Interest Group – Monday 7th March, 2-3pm, Byrne House

Dear all,

You are invited to the next meeting of the Biological Interest Group. It will take place this coming Monday 7th of March. The meeting will be held in the seminar room at Byrne House, from 2-3pm. Participants can bring lunch and drinks if they wish.

Next week we are very pleased to receive the visit of Flavia Fabris, from Sapienza University of Rome. We will be discussing the attached chapter “Canalization and Development: Towards a Process Account of Cryptic Genetic Variability”. The author kindly provided us with some information about the paper, and how we might help:

“The text is a draft of what hopefully will be a chapter of the book on Process Philosophy of Biology that Dan Nicholson and John Dupré are editing. The aim of the chapter is (i) to offer a process account of Waddington’s cryptic genetic variability and (ii) to discuss its implication in contemporary developmental canalization models.

The chapter draws attention on the ontological difference between two assumptions that in literature are often conflated in the explanation of cryptic genetic variability: (i) a substance view of cryptic variability as “evolution’s hidden substrate”, i.e. a pre-existent pool of hidden random genetic variation, (ii) and a process view of cryptic variability as regulated by epigenetic processes evolved because of their contribution to ‘encrypt’ and ‘decrypt’ specific developmental answers in relation to stimuli and environmental contexts. With the general aim to asses Waddington’s ontology of phenotypes as processes, the chapter discusses how these interpretations (i) (ii) differently contribute to Waddington’s model of buffering and cripticity in contemporary genetics and molecular biology researches.

I’d like to receive feedback on the clarity of my argument and how the paper could be improved, both from an historical and a philosophical point of view. In particular, I’d like to receive feedback on (i) the relation between Waddington’s DST approach and his process view, and (ii) on how my analysis on cryptic genetic variation could be further strengthened in relation with its distinction with a substance view.”

Please contact Thomas Bonnin (tb391 [at] exeter.ac.uk) if you wish to join the group or for any other information.



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