I joined the department in 2009, after being a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cambridge and King’s College London, and a Teaching Associate at the University of Bristol. I received my MA and PhD (2006) from King’s College London. Before coming to the UK, I studied biology in Germany and the USA and obtained a PhD in zoology. In 2016, I was a Visiting Professor for the Philosophy of the Life Sciences at Utrecht University.
Philosophy of Science, especially the History and Philosophy of Biology
My research focuses on genetic causation, the nature of purportedly informational or representational phenomena, and the role of diagrams in mechanistic modelling. Much of my work addresses these issues in the context of molecular biology and animal behaviour studies. The overall goal of my work is a better understanding of biology as it is actually practiced, its fundamental concepts, its ontological commitments, its tools and methods. Some of my work employs historical research to address the philosophical issues at stake.
Curently I work on a monograph about the theoretical roles of genetic information and genetic coding. I investigate how these metaphors were used in practice by the scientists who first promoted their use in the 1950s. This is a project in integrated HPS.
British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship for "Scientific Metaphors in Action" (2019)
Scientists have described genes as packets of instructions for building organisms, a view that has strongly affected the public imagination of human nature. Although historians and philosophers of biology have questioned the cogency of this view, the debate still proceeds without understanding how scientists employ the various informational metaphors within actual research practice. Such understanding, however, is essential for answering the most pressing questions: 1) Are the metaphors referential? 2) What are the referents? 3) Do the metaphors play any valuable scientific roles? This project will answer these questions by employing a novel approach, i.e. by identifying how scientists employed informational metaphors in practice. The project focuses on a central historical episode (1953 – 1958) and considers a broad range of primary sources, both published and unpublished. Investigating the implications for contemporary life sciences forms part of the project.
2019/20 (second half-session)
PH25XX Metaphysics and Epistemology
This course provides students with an introduction to central issues in metaphysics and epistemology. The emphasis is on introducing some of the central issues in these areas; issues that have shaped the contemporary debate. In addition to introducing a number of central issues in metaphysics and epistemology, this course also teaches and further develops a number of essential skills including extracting and evaluating philosophical arguments, critical writing, and the application of logical concepts to philosophical problems. [co-taught]
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Director of the Centre for Knowledge and Society.
Research and Impact Lead for Philosophy.