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First conference for Process Ontology project

International researchers came together for the first of a series of annual conferences to be held as part of the project A Process Ontology for Contemporary Biology.

"Process Philosophy of Biology" was held at Egenis in November and was organised by Prof John Dupré, PI on the five-year ERC-funded project, and research fellow Dr Dan Nicholson. The interdisciplinary conference brought together metaphysicians, biologists, artists, philosophers of science and historians to explore the interface between process philosophy and biological theory from this range of different perspectives. Speakers included Prof Peter Simons (Trinity College Dublin), Prof Frédéric Bouchard (University of Montreal) and Dr Eric Bapteste (Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris).

Some participants examined how a processual understanding of classic philosophical notions like identity, individuality, and causation can shed light on a number of contemporary biological debates, whereas others showed how particular areas of biology (such as development, evolution, and molecular biology) greatly benefit from a theoretical reformulation that prioritises processes over things. Overall, the workshop demonstrated the increasing importance of conceptualizing living phenomena in terms that highlight their highly dynamic nature.

The proceedings of the conference are expected to be published as a book. The next conference in the series is planned to take place in November 2015.