About Dre

Andrea is Maria Zambrano Fellow at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). He is into philosophy of science and German Idealism and does his best to argue it's not schizofrenia. Teleology, complex systems and cognition.

IAS-Research Talk by Mirko Prokop, “Towards an Enactive Account of Practical Reasoning: Setting the Scene”


On May 4th, 2023 4pm. Centro Carlos Santamaria, Room 1. The talk will be hybrid, to participate remotely contact andrea.gambarotto@uclouvain.be

Abstract: Since its inception in the 1990s, the enactive approach has grown into a vibrant framework for understanding the mind and its entanglement in biological processes, embodiment, agency, sensorimotor interactions, sociality and language, based on an organizational, dynamical, and non-representational approach centred around the concept of autonomy. Yet, despite significant progress, the characteristically human capacity to reason about what do to – a capacity hailed especially by classical approaches to which enaction was proposed as an alternative – remains to be explained in enactive terms. This explanatory lack is pressing not only in view of vindicating enaction as a new paradigm in the cognitive sciences. It is also important because dominant views both in philosophy and cognitive science continue to affirm a conception of practical reasoning which is individualistic and modelled on theoretical reasoning. However, research from various disciplines suggests that both these tendencies stand in the way of an accurate conception of practical reasoning, one that instead begins with a conception of the practical (action) and firmly places this conception in relation to the social nature of reasoning practices. I will argue that the enactive approach is in a promising position to develop a scientifically informed and philosophically illuminating account of practical reasoning which recognizes its essentially practical and social dimension. In particular, the recent enactive proposals of sensorimotor autonomy and agency, on the one hand, and of participatory sense-making and linguistic bodies, on the other, scaffold a rich conceptual space in which to develop an enactive account of practical reasoning. However, many steps towards this lofty goal remain to be taken. In particular, I will point out that what is missing from the enactive toolkit is a conception of practical inference and action explanation and justification. Expanding on enactive and related proposals, I try to sketch how an embodied account of these notions might be developed by attending to how the explanatory structure of action is laid bare and shaped through the dynamics of social interaction. My main aim, however, is not to articulate, but to motivate an enactive approach to practical reasoning, and to bring out some of its challenges and implications, to be addressed in future research.

IAS Research Talk by Maite Arraiza: “After the trans brain: A critique of the neurobiological accounts of embodied trans* identities”

Abstract. Transness has become a hot topic. The political work of the trans depathologization movement and allies, and trans* activists in other fields, has been accompanied by a growing, yet insufficient legal recognition of trans* people’s rights, and by a proliferation of neuroscientific and neurobiological studies on trans* identities. Following the historical trend of the scientific hunt for brain differences related to sex-gender, sexual orientation, and race, in the last three decades, particular emphasis has been placed on the search for brain differences between trans* and cis people. The idea of the existence of distinctive neurobiological traits of trans* people has social, political, legal, and medical implications. This makes the analysis of neurobiological accounts on trans* identities a relevant and timely task, even more, in this context of the rise of essentialisms, where different conceptions on sex-gender identities are in contention.   

In this talk I rise two claims: 1) The idea of two brain types, the trans brain and the cis brain, is highly problematic. 2) The question regarding embodied trans* identities is a complex one, which cannot be reduced to neurobiological factors, nor to neurobiological causes. In doing so, I critically analyze three main neurobiological theories on trans* identities to date: the neurobiological theory about the origin of gender dysphoria, the neurodevelopmental cortical hypothesis, and the alternative hypothesis of self-referential thinking and body perception. This critical review is carried out considering feminist and trans* neuroscientific, biological, philosophical, and political developments, focusing its attention on three main elements: the issue of (de)pathologization, the idea of the trans brain, and the etiology of trans* identities. Highlighting the differences and convergences among the three hypotheses examined regarding the three main issues at stake, I problematize the depictions of the trans brain departing from the findings and conceptualizations of the paradigm shifting brain mosaicism. I also challenge the biological deterministic framework in which the etiology of trans* identities is inscribed from a dynamic processual entanglement perspective. Finally, I question the complete departure of the neurobiological discourse from a pathologizing framework.     

IAS Research Talk by Mitchell Ryan Distin: “Evolution in Space and Time: The Second Synthesis between Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and the Philosophy of Biology”


Abstract: Change is the fundamental idea of evolution. Explaining the extraordinary biological change we see written in the history of genomes and fossil beds is the primary occupation of the evolutionary biologist. Yet it is a surprising fact that for the majority of evolutionary research, we have rarely studied how evolution typically unfolds in nature, in changing ecological environments, over space and time. While ecology played a major role in the eventual acceptance of the population genetic viewpoint of evolution in the synthetic era (circa 1918-1956), it held a lesser role in the development of evolutionary theory until the 1980s, when we began to systematically study the evolutionary dynamics of natural populations in space and time. As a result, early evolutionary theory was initially constructed in an abstract vacuum that was unrepresentative of evolution in nature. The subtle synthesis between ecology with evolutionary biology (eco-evo synthesis) over the past 40 years has progressed our knowledge of natural selection dynamics as they are found in nature, thus revealing how natural selection varies in strength, direction, form, and, more surprisingly, level of biological organization. Natural selection can no longer be reduced to lower levels of biological organization (i.e., individuals, selfish genes) over shorter timescales but should be expanded to include adaptation at higher levels and over longer timescales. Long-term and/or emergent evolutionary phenomena, such as multilevel selection or evolvability, have thus become tenable concepts within an evolutionary biology that embraces ecological and spatiotemporal change. As a result, evolutionary biology is currently suspended at an intermediate stage of scientific progress that calls for the organization of all the recent knowledge revealed by the eco-evo synthesis into a coherent and unified theoretical framework. This is where recent advancements in the philosophy of biology can be of particular use, acting as a bridge between the subdisciplines of biology and inventing new theoretical strategies to organize and accommodate the recent knowledge. Philosophers have recommended transitioning away from outdated philosophies that were originally derived from physics within the philosophical zeitgeist of logical positivism (i.e., monism, reductionism, and monocausation) and toward a distinct philosophy of biology that can capture the natural complexity of multifaceted biological systems within diverse ecosystems—one that embraces the emerging philosophies of pluralismemergence, and multicausality. Therefore, I see recent advances in ecology, evolutionary biology, and the philosophy of biology as laying the groundwork for another major biological synthesis, what I refer to as the Second Synthesis because, in many respects, it is analogous to the aims and outcomes of the first major biological synthesis (but is notably distinct from the inorganic movement known as the extended evolutionary synthesis). With the general development of a distinctive philosophy of science, biology has rightfully emerged as an autonomous science. Thus, while the first synthesis legitimized biology, the Second Synthesis autonomized biology and afforded biology its own philosophy.

Event is hybrid. To receive event link contact: andrea.gambarotto@gmail.com

IAS-Research Talk by Sergio Rubín (Earth and Life Institute, UCLouvain), “Biological Autonomy and Gaian Systems”

ABSTRACT: In this presentation it is assumed that the Earth system is autopoietically organized and that therefore the system is constituted as an autonomous system. That is assumed from chemical atmospheric and geological evidence and from how the organization of the Earth system as autopoietic satisfies relations of formal systems such as the (M,R)-system, chemical organization theory, and variational free energy minimization. This implies that the autonomy of the internal biological unities of the Gaian system, such as prokaryotes and unicellular or metacellular eukaryotes, although they are structurally coupled and therefore participate in planetary self-production, their autonomy and their ecology and evolution depend largely on the Gaian system biology of cognition and enaction with its outer solar space. This point of view, however, poses a fundamental problem. To what extent the biological unities internal to the Gaian system can or can’t affect its autonomy. This presentation will discuss this problem, but by no means will it come to a final conclusion. 

Sergio is research fellow at the Earth and Life Institute of UC Louvain (Belgium), biologist by training he now works chiefly on Gaian systems from an organizational perspective inspired by biological autonomy and (M-R)-systems.