Evolution today and tomorrow
Darwin evaluated by contemporary evolutionary

and philosophical theories



23 - 24 April 2009


FCUL, Building C6, Level 2, Room 53
















Centro de Filosofia das Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa

in collaboration with ISPA and CBA


Conference Theme

In 2009, the world is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of his magnum opus On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection. 2009 is also the 100th anniversary of Constantin Mereschkowsky's article on symbiogenesis "The Theory of Two Plasmas as the Basis of Symbiogenesis, a New Study for the Origins of Organisms". Moreover, Jean Baptiste Lamarck's Philosophie Zoologique was first published 200 years ago. And finally, Alexander von Humboldt, the father of biogeography, passed away 150 years ago.
In the conference, we will investigate the impact that Darwin's thinking had on modern evolutionary biology as well as on philosophy of biology. More specifically, we will examine the theory of natural selection in regard to the modern theories of symbiogenesis and punctuated equilibrium. The focus will lie on the controversies over the pace of evolution, the different species concepts that arise by making use of different evolutionary theories, and the units and levels of evolution debate.
We will furthermore examine the current implementation of Neodarwinian thinking in the human and social sciences and its philosophical implications. It is often stated that cultural and social evolution occur more in accordance with Lamarckian ideas of inheritance. We will test these views in light of selectionist interpretations of the rise of culture.
The international conference combines the expertise of both foreign as well as Portuguese experts in the field of both biology and philosophy. Together, these experts will put forward important knowledge on evolution, understandable for both the scientific and non-scientific community of Portugal. Therefore the conference will help in a better understanding of evolution at all levels of society.

Plenary Speakers

António M. de Frias Martins

Universidade dos Açores, Portugal

Jan Sapp
University of York, Canada

John Wilkins
University of Sydney, Australia


James Steele

University College London, UK

Invited Speakers


(In order of appearance.)


Teresa Avelar
Margarida Matos
Elio Sucena

Francisco Carrapiço
Luísa Pereira
Luís Correia
Nathalie Gontier
Filipe Costa

Sven Steinmo

André Levy
Hélder Coelho
Eugénia Cunha
Bracinha Vieira
Rui Oliveira
Maria Manuel Jorge

Call for Posters

We kindly invite scholars to contribute to the conference with a poster presentation. Posters can be in accordance with any of the philosophical and biological topics discussed in the 4 major conference sessions:

1. The pace of evolution (gradualism versus punctuated equilibrium, developmental systems theory, embryology...)
2. Symbiogenesis (the origin of eukaryotes and prokaryotes, viruses, mutualism, parasitism, commensualism...)
3. Species concepts and units and levels of evolution (phylogenetic trees, hybridization, multilevel selection, identity...)
4. Darwinism applied to the human and social sciences (evolutionary anthropology, evolutionary archaeology, evolutionary linguistics, neuroscience...)

The language of the poster can be either in English or in Portuguese. Posters should be in portrait and must not exceed a width of 70cm and a height of 100cm. The posters will be visible during the entire conference, and they can be discussed during the conference reception and coffee breaks.

Interested scholars can send an abstract in accordance to the
abstract template to Helena Abreu:


The deadline for abstract submission is 12 April 2009.

All abstracts will be published in the conference booklet.


Scientific &












André Levy
- Post-Doc (FCT) in Eco-Ethology, ISPA

Bracinha Vieira
- CFCUL's "Philosophy of Life Sciences RG" head, Professor of Biological Anthropology

Francisco Carrapiço - Assistant Professor, University of Lisbon, Faculty of Sciences, Department of Plant Biology, Center for Environmental Biology

Helena Abreu
- Licentiate in Biology, Master in Philosophy of Biology, CFCUL

Marco Pina - Licentiate in Medicine, CFCUL

Nathalie Gontier, Head of the committee - Post-Doc (FCT) in Philosophy of Biology, CFCUL

Nuno Melim, scientific collaborator of the CFCUL

Olga Pombo - CFCUL's head and Professor of Philosophy of Science, FCUL

Ricardo S. Reis dos Santos - BII (FCT) at CFCUL, bachelor in Biology


Sattelite Event
















April 22nd, Afternoon


The Centre of Philosophy of Sciences of the University of Lisbon is organizing a Workshop on scientific illustration in collaboration with Ciência Viva.


The afternoon session of April 22nd is dedicated to Illustration in Darwin: the tree as an image of evolution. This session will serve as a sattelite event for the Evolution Conference.


Theme of the Workshop:


In his first Notebook, On the transmutation of species (1837), Charles Darwin drew the first evolutionary tree of life.

In this colloquium, we begin with a critical, philosophical reflection on how phylogenetic tree models and alternative iconographies influence the concept of species and ideas on speciation (John Wilkins). Afterwards we trace the historical origin of the application of tree models to represent evolution.

Tree models were not only introduced by Darwin to model the evolution of life, they were also introduced by Ernst Haeckel, the first taxonomist, and by August Schleicher, a linguist who modelled the evolution of language. In fact, both the terminology as well as the iconography used to model life's and language's evolution developed in close contact. (Nathalie Gontier and Ricardo S. Reis dos Santos).

We end the session investigating the relevance of these tree models in current biological thought on evolution and speciation, with the help of a case-study about islands (Maria Manuel Romeiras, Dora Batista e Octávio Paulo Gomes).


Full program is available at:


The session will be held at Ciência Viva, Pavilhão do Conhecimento, and the entrance is free to all.

(Parque das Nações, Alameda dos Oceanos, Lote 2.10.01, Lisbon)


Full Program



























































































































Thursday, April 23rd 2009

09.00: Opening of the conference by Olga Pombo (Centro de Filosofia das Ciências), Nuno Guimarães (Faculdade de Ciências) and José Feijó (Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência/Faculdade de Ciências).

Session 1: The pace of evolution, chaired by António Bracinha Vieira

09.30-10.30: António M. de Frias Martins

Evolution in a snapshot: The quest for punctuated equilibrium alive, in the Açores

10.30-11.00: Teresa Avelar, Gradualism and punctualism: What are we talking about?

11.00-11.30: Margarida Matos, Experimental evolution as the most empirical tool of microevolutionary studies: Playing Darwin

11.30-12.00: Coffee break

12.00-12.30: Élio Sucena, Pattern and process: An evo-devo perspective

12.30-13.00: Anthony Dean, The biochemical architecture of an ancient adaptive landscape

13.00-13.30: Discussion with all the speakers and the audience

13.30-15.00: Lunch

Session 2: Symbiogenesis, chaired by André Levy

15.00-16.00: Jan Sapp

Symbiogenesis: The emergence of a new evolutionary theory

16.00-16.30: Francisco Carrapiço, When 1+1 does not equal 2: Contribution to a symbiogenic approach in evolution

16.30-17.00: Luísa Pereira, A symbiogenic way in the origin(s) of life

17.00-17.30: Coffee break

17.30-18.00: Luís Correia, Computational evolution

18.00-18.30: Nathalie Gontier, Universalizing symbiogenesis

18.30-19.00: Discussion with all the speakers and the audience

19.00: Reception offered by Esfera do Caos and exhibition of the books Fundamentos e Desafios do Evolucionismo, edited by André Levy, Francisco Carrapiço, Helena Abreu & Marco Pina. Fernando Catarino will give a brief introduction to volume 2: Evolucionismo - Conceitos e Debates.


Friday, April 24th 2009

Session 3: Species concepts and the units and levels of evolution debate, chaired by Francisco Carrapiço

09.30-10.30: John Wilkins

Species, essences and generation

10.30-11.00: Filipe Costa, New insights into molecular evolution: Prospects from the barcode of life initiative

11.00-11.30: André Levy, Species in the era of molecular phylogenetics and units of selection as active agents

11.30-12.00: Coffee break

12.00-12.30: Sven Steinmo, Do institutions evolve?

12.30-13.00: Helder Coelho, Filming the 2-way dynamics of sociality: The relevance of evolution

13.00-13.30: Discussion with all the speakers and the audience

13.30-15.00: Lunch

Session 4: Darwinism and the human and social sciences, chaired by Marco Pina

15.00-16.00: James Steele

On the interpretation of cultural and linguistic phylogenies

16.00-16.30: Eugénia Cunha, What makes us humans

16.30-17.00: Bracinha Vieira, Language and natural selection

17.00-17.30: Coffee break

17.30-18.00: Rui Oliveira, Ghosts in the machine: from mind-body dualismo to the psycho-neuro-sciences

18.00-18.30: Maria Manuel Jorge, Evolution, knowledge and truth

18.30-19.00: Discussion with all the speakers and the audience

19.00-19.15: Closing remarks by Nathalie Gontier

19.15-20.00: Launching of António Bracinha Vieira's book A Evolução do Darwinismo, published by Fim de Século. Cláudia Sousa will give a brief introduction to the book.

20.30: Conference dinner and concert at Fábrica de Braço de Prata, Rua de Fábrica de Material de Guerra, nº 1 (Poço do Bispo).
















Location &






















The conference will be held at the University of Lisbon, in the Faculty of Sciences (Building C6, Level 2, Room 53).



On the 23rd of April, there will be an exhibition of the 4 book volumes Fundamentos e Desafios do Evolucionismo, edited by André Levy, Francisco Carrapiço, Helena Abreu and Marco Pina. This exhibition will be accompanied by a reception, kindly offered to us by the publisher of the books: Esfera do Caos.

On the 24th of April, there will be a conference dinner which includes a concert.

During the conference, there will also be a continuous exhibition of posters.



Conference registration fee


The conference is open to all, free of charge.


Participants that require the receipt of an official declaration of attendance, the conference booklet, access to the exhibition of the 4 books, and the coffee breaks are requested to pay a small entrance fee.


The conference fee that allows the receipt of the conference package is:


     Students: 10 euro

     Non-students: 20 euro



Conference dinner (Optional)


The conference dinner will be held on Friday, the 24th of April, at the Fábrica de Braço de Prata, Rua de Fábrica de material de Guerra, Lisboa.


During the conference dinner, attendants will be treated to a concert (included in the price).


Conference dinner (optional):

       Students and non-students: 25 euro



The conference and/or dinner fee can be paid upon arrival.


For Conference Photos click here