The Changing Ethos of Science

Josè Luís Garcia
Researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon
Address: Instituto Ciências Sociais, Av. Professor Aníbal de Bettencourt, nº 9, 1600-189 Lisboa, Portugal
Telephone: (00351) 217804700 Email:

Despite the post-academic direction which science has taken since the Second World War, it was above all from the 1980s onwards that the organic link between science, industry and political and economic policy options was cemented. It was that era which saw the triumph of the idea that science should be subordinate to power - no longer to political power, but to economic power. In other words, there was a triumph of something we may call “technoscience,” which had already been glimpsed by thinkers such as Horkeimer and Adorno, who saw in science the incarnation of the will to power. And the changes in the “modes of production of knowledge”, in the nature of its institutions, in epistemologies and in the relationship with the wider world are at the heart of this process. In fact, the strengthening of ties with the market led to a systematic tendency to fund research according to the criterion of anticipated financial results. In such a climate, institutions and bodies involved in economic competition become subject to reorganization in terms of size, rationalization, objectives and ties to the market. 

In short, this communication aims to present the development of biotechnology in the ideological framework of an alteration of the scientific ethos and within a university increasingly articulated with the industry and dependent upon commercial goals.

Introducing Universal Symbiogenesis

Nathalie Gontier
(Research Assistant of the Fund for Scientific Research – Flanders, Belgium)

Ever since Ruse’s (1988) famous book entitled Taking Darwin seriously this slogan has been the motto of current thinking on evolutionary epistemology. And indeed, taking Darwin seriously has proven to be very fruitful. However, since Darwin’s Magnum Opus On the Origin of Species, many new evolutionary perspectives have arisen that either complement or contradict his views. The endosymbiotic theory, introduced by Margulis, represents such a theory. Here natural selection is not understood to also be the creator of novelty (as for instance Dawkins suggests), rather selection occurs ones novelty is introduced by symbiogenesis.
Evolutionary epistemologists differ widely in their topics of investigation but one basic theme unites them all. And that is that all of life is the product of evolution. Therefore it is only logical to understand the products of life from within an evolutionary framework as well. There products can include cognition, culture, language, economics, etc because these are all traits that are displayed by biological organisms.
The main goal of evolutionary epistemologists is to develop one general evolutionary scheme that can explain all these different evolutionary processes.
However, today, there is a huge bias towards the theory of natural selection as the only theory that can provide such a general framework. Hence the rise and success of universal selectionism. The idea is defended that the logical skeleton of natural selection (i.e. phenotypic variation, differential fitness and the heritability of fitness, Lewontin, 1970: 1) can be implemented in the study of the evolution of the brain (Neural Darwinism), immunological processes, the evolution of culture, science and cognition.
Although selectionist accounts have proven very fruitful, the problem is that they leave out a whole other side of evolution. That is, because they emphasize branching and speciation models, they are not well suited to model horizontal mergings of lineages.
Endosymbiogenesis (Margulis, 1999, Margulis and Sagan, 2000, 2002) is an evolutionary mechanism where lineages can merge. Following Dyson’s (1998) ideas on universalizing symbiogenesis, Gontier (2005) has argued that one can also abstract a general formula of symbiogenesis that can serve as a template to model, e.g. language mixing, but also culture contact. Universal symbiogenesis is defined as follows: “Horizontal evolution is the coming together and merging of existing and independently evolved evolutionary lineages. Universal symbiogenesis occurs when these mergings result in the emergence of one new evolutionary lineage.”
Universal selectionist accounts can be counterbalanced by universal symbiogenesis and this new universal framework can provide new metaphors for the life sciences on the one hand and for evolutionary biology in general.
Furthermore it is a truly universal scheme of evolution as well because besides its important role in the origin of eukaryotic cells, it can be implemented at the very least in the study of cosmology, language, culture, the epidemiology of viruses and plant hybridizations.
Cziko, G. 1995. Without miracles: Universal selection theory and the second Darwinian revolution. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.
Dawkins, R. 1983. “Universal Darwinism”. In: Hull, D.; and Ruse, M. (eds), The Philosophy of Biology 15-35. Oxford Univ. Press.
Dyson, F. 1998. “The evolution of science”. In: Fabian, A. (ed.), Evolution. 118-35. Cambridge Univ. Press.
Gontier, N. 2005. “"Evolutionary Epistemology and the origin and evolution of language - taking symbiogenesis seriously." In: Gontier, N., Van Bendegem, J. and Aerts, D. (eds), Evolutionary epistemology, language and culture - A non-adaptationist, systems theoretical approach. Springer, Dordrecht (The Netherlands).
Lewontin, R. “The levels of selection.” Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 1-18.
Margulis, L. 1999. The symbiotic planet: A new look at evolution. London: Phoenix, Orion Books.
Margulis, L; and Sagan, D. 2000. What is life? Berkeley: University of California Press.
Margulis, L; and Sagan, D. 2002. Acquiring genomes. New York: Basic Books.
Ruse, Michael. 1988. Taking Darwin seriously. Oxford: Blackwell publishers.


Unity in Diversity

Marie Helène Gorisse
(Departement of Philosophy, Université Lille III, France)

Is it possible to formulate the features of a dialogue where different traditions try to articulate and respect their respective backgrounds and to find at the same time a common field of epistemological negotiations where knowledge is to be won?  

Instead of directly answering such a question we will more modestly study the response which we think follows from the Jaina reflections on the dia-logic of an epistemological negotiation such as the one already mentioned. More precisely, we present two possible interpretations of the logic of knowledge of the Jainas and of their general claim according to which all reasoning is a conditioned reasoning.

Jaina philosophy shares with Buddhism and Hinduism the aim of striving for absolute liberation from the factors which bind human existence. For the philosophical systems of Indian thought, ignorance (of one’s own nature, of the nature of the world and of one’s role in the world) is one of the chief such factors, and Jainism offers its own insights into what constitutes the knowledge that has the soteriological function of overcoming ignorance.  
From this, they develop, from the ninth up to the thirteenth century, an epistemology of omniscience, which is a tentative of epistemological closure in the sense that it amounts to the integration of all different possible perspectives on the object of knowledge. The Jaina interest in logic arose through a consideration of inference as a mode of knowledge. Developing in an epistemological background rich with its scientific debates, the pluralistic logic of the Jainas therefore aims to harmonise the different scientific theories. For this, they performed a kind of modal logic able to articulate several standpoints. In this conception, the role of logic, named the syâd-vâda (‘the doctrine of the “somehow”’ or ‘the doctrine of the modes of predication’), is to regulate the epistemological and inferential variation. 

Our purpose is to use the modern tools in order to be aware of the actual tenets of their logical and epistemological dynamic. We will perform this interpretation on the basis of three texts, which are central for the Jaina philosophy of logic, namely the Nyâyâvatâra of Divâkara, fifth century; the Âptamîmâmsâ of Samantabhadra, seventh century; and the Prameyakamalamârtanda of  Prabhacandra, ninth century. One approach which we will call the external point of view will assume the frame of non-normal modal dialogic which is a game where the role of both of the two players is precisely to make explicit the presuppositions of the theorical assertions of the other player, and where not even a necessary proposition such as "a=a" is assumed to have a universal scope. To accomplish the formal task of conceiving the integration of different theorical presuppositions, we will make use of hybrid languages, which are means of extending the language of logic with mechanisms for referring to states. The second approach, namely the internal point of view, will tackle the question of the dynamics of making two different points of view compatible. At this point the technical language we make use of is the one of adaptive logic. More precisely, the philosophical point in the developpement of adaptive logics applied to the epistemology of the Jainas is that, as we are not omniscients, we can never be sure that something that our theory would define as a problem won’t appear in our set of derived conclusions. We therefore have to develop a dynamical logic able to deal with such problems whenever they appear so as to prevent the whole theory of being trivial and useless.

Computational Templates as Cross-Disciplinary Bridges

Paul Humphreys
(Philosophy Departemnt, University of Virginia, USA )

More information regarding this Colloquium may be obtained from the website