This plenary will facilitate an interdisciplinary dialogue between scholars whose work interrogates the relevance of developments in the life sciences, and particularly their processual and dynamic nature, for conceptualizations of human and social life.
Advances in the life sciences often develop in parallel to social scientific theorizations and philosophical debates. This plenary draws together scholars whose work develops from a deep engagement with the conduct and content of biological research. Elaborating empirical investigations of genomics, virology and zoology, panellists will consider how contemporary biology shapes the way we conceptualize human nature, society, and ‘life itself’. The participants in this discussion are: John Dupre is a Professor of Philosophy and Director of Egenis, the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences, at the University of Exeter. Prof Dupre’s interrogations of scientific advances in the life sciences have prompted radical rethinking of human nature and the meaning of life more broadly. He is currently elaborating this intellectual program in the context of an ERC advanced grant: ‘A process Ontology for Contemporary Biology’ which aims to refine and transform key concerns and categories in the philosophy of biology. Carlo Caduff is a Lecturer in Anthropology at the Department of Science, Health and Medicine at King’s College London. Developed through an ethnographic examination of the response to pandemic influenza, Dr Caduff’’s work is expanding our understanding of expertise, the semiotics of risk, hope and hysteria. Matei Candea is a Lecturer in Anthropology at King’s College, Cambridge, and the editor of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. His work cuts across a number of fields including the material-politics of knowledge, identity and alterity in Europe, the epistemology of social theory and the conceptual and affective relationships between human and animals in the context of behavioural biology.