POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP IN PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE/PHILOSOPHY OF BIOLOGY
Cross-appointed in Dalhousie's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Department of Philosophy, the successful candidate will conduct research on either philosophy of microbiology and evolutionary biology or the epistemology of models and computer simulations as part of the project, Testing “It’s the song, not the singer(s)”: microbiomes to Gaia. Ideal candidates should have, in addition to background in one or the other of the above two research areas, some familiarity with and interest in feminist epistemologies of science or Indigenous or other ‘non-Western’ ontologies. A recent PhD in Philosophy, the History and Philosophy of Science or Science and Technology Studies is required.
The appointment is for two years and will begin some time after July 1, 2020. While the fellow will be expected to move to Nova Scotia, there is the possibility that they will need to begin the fellowship at a distance, should the current global health crisis make moving to Canada or Halifax effectively impossible by the start date. Salary $45,000/annum plus available fringe benefits (including some funds for accessibility supports) and support for conference travel. Canadians and non-Canadians will be considered.
To apply please follow the instructions at http://dal.peopleadmin.ca/postings/3490. Consideration of candidates will begin on May 22, 2020 and continue until the position is filled. Queries can be sent to either Ford Doolittle (email@example.com) or Letitia Meynell (Letitia.Meynell@dal.ca).
PIs on this project are Ford Doolittle in Dalhousie’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Letitia Meynell in Dalhousie’s Department of Philosophy and, and Joe Bielawski in Dalhousie’s Departments of Biology and Mathematics and Statistics is a co-applicant.
“It’s the song, not the singer” (ITSNTS) theory was developed to legitimize and supplant claims that we and our microbiomes (“holobionts”) – or complex communities more generally (maximally, the biosphere) – are units of selection (“Darwinian individuals”). ITSNTS holds that it is the processes implemented, not the implementing taxa (individually or collectively) that are the relevant units, evolving through differential persistence and recruitment of implementing taxa, not differential reproduction. ITSNTS engages and challenges traditional philosophical concerns about individuality, function, causation, emergence and hierarchy, is increasingly relevant biomedically (as in the new discipline of “microbiomics”), and should provide a much-needed and novel theoretical underpinning for evolutionary biology and ecology.
However, ITSNTS theory needs further theoretical development (as philosophy), further grounding in evidence from genomic and metagenomic databases, and establishment of relevant parameters through carefully constructed computer models. Along with these empirical and computational modelling challenges, many theoretical, ontological and, indeed, political implications are yet to be worked out. We believe the radical ontology of ITSNTS promises to have significant ramifications for how we think about various biological systems, implications that reach beyond the foundational applications in evolutionary theory, medicine, or the environmental sciences to the way we think about our relationships with other organisms and the place of humans in nature.
The fellow will be expected to work closely with the rest of the research team developing their own research projects, working on collaborative projects, and providing other team members with feedback on their projects. They will have opportunities to present their research to scientific, philosophical, and interdisciplinary audiences at Dalhousie as well as support for presenting at national and international venues. They will be expected to organize an interdisciplinary evolution studies reading group. Although there will be no requirement to teach we anticipate that there will be opportunities to teach.
Established in 1818, Dalhousie is a leading research-intensive university offering more than 200 degree programs in 13 faculties. It is the largest university in Atlantic Canada and is located in the heart of Halifax, a scenic coastal city and capital of Nova Scotia, which is home to 13 Mi’kmaq First Nations, a deeply rooted African Canadian community, and an increasingly diverse population.
Dalhousie University is committed to fostering a collegial culture grounded in diversity and inclusiveness. We encourage applications from Indigenous people, persons with a disability, racially visible persons, women, persons of minority sexual orientations and gender identities, and all candidates who would contribute to the diversity of our community.