Centre for Philosophy of Science Applied Evolutionary Epistemology Lab

The 3-day International Conference on Evolutionary Patterns: Horizontal and Vertical Transmission and Micro- and Macroevolutionary Patterns of Biological and Sociocultural Evolution aims to provide an interdisciplinary platform where evolutionary scholars from the exact, technological, life, human and sociocultural sciences can exchange ideas and techniques on how to conceptualize, model, and quantify biological and sociocultural evolution.

About the Conference

The Conference is organized by the Applied Evolutionary Epistemology Lab of the Centre for Philosophy of Science of the University of Lisbon, in collaboration with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, and with the support of the John Templeton Foundation.

The conference will center around the following four themes:

  1. Conceptualizing, quantifying and modeling horizontal and vertical evolution in biological and sociocultural sciences;
  2. Conceptualizing, quantifying and modeling micro- and macroevolution in biological and sociocultural sciences;
  3. Hierarchy theory and the units, levels and mechanisms of evolution;
  4. Unification of the biological and sociocultural sciences into an Extended Synthesis.

1. Conceptualizing, Quantifying and Modeling Horizontal and Vertical Evolution in Biological and Sociocultural Sciences

In recent years, bioinformatic approaches have greatly advanced the means by which biologists are able to conceptualize, quantify and model horizontal (Symbiogenesis, Lateral Gene Transfer, Hybridization, Virolution) and vertical evolution (Natural Selection, Punctuated Equilibria Theory and Drift). These techniques can and are currently applied to model horizontal and vertical sociocultural evolutionary processes. During the conference, emphasis will lie on tree and network models that allow the formalization and visualization of ancestral-descent relationships, horizontal and vertical transmission and exchange of biological and sociocultural traits, and inter-individual interactions.

2. Conceptualizing, Quantifying and Modeling Micro- and Macroevolution in Biological and Sociocultural Sciences

The Modern Synthesis argues that microevolutionary events (genetic mutations and chromosomal recombinations) suffice to explain macroevolutionary events (the origin and evolution of species). The existence of horizontal evolutionary mechanisms makes it necessary to redefine the means by which microevolution can occur and cause macroevolution. And Drift and Punctuated Equilibria Theory or the Red Queen Hypothesis demonstrate that macroevolution, in biology as well as in culture, is caused by physical and ecological mechanisms, in addition to microevolutionary mechanisms. During the conference, we will focus on shared bioinformatic methodologies that depict patterns, processes and modes of micro- and macroevolution of life and culture.

3. Hierarchy Theory and the Units, Levels and Mechanisms of Evolution

Theories on horizontal transmission and rapid or slow vertical evolution challenge our classic notions of "trait", "organism", "group", "species", "speciation", and "evolutionary mechanism." These theories shed new light on what can be units of evolution, where and at which level(s) evolution occurs, and how evolution occurs - how different evolutionary mechanisms interact to cause evolutionary change through time. In other words, there is currently an ontological and epistemological demand to recognize the multiplicity of units, levels and mechanisms of both biological as well as sociocultural evolution, and thus, to extend the Evolutionary Synthesis. This demand also necessitates a scientific investigation into how different biological and sociocultural units, levels and mechanisms alternate and interact hierarchically, and together bring forth the phenomenon of evolution. During the conference, we will investigate how various biological evolutionary mechanisms can be universalized to model and conceptualize sociocultural evolution.

4. Unification of the Biological and Sociocultural Sciences into an Extended Synthesis

Bioinformatics, phylogenetics, network and agent modeling, hierarchy theory, and debating the units and levels of evolution provide new means to unify biological and sociocultural sciences into an Extended Synthesis. During the conference, emphasis will lie on how these unifying approaches delineate a shared research program and how this program differs from other unification approaches.

Target Audience

We welcome evolutionary scholars active in all academic fields who either develop theoretical models, methodologies and theories on biological and sociocultural evolution; or create concrete software, imaging and modeling techniques that capture aspects of biological and sociocultural evolution. Scholars are invited to present their work as a team, during self-organized mini-symposia and poster sessions, or as individual presentation and poster talks.