We are looking for a researcher experienced in the philosophy of biology, particularly evolutionary and/or developmental biology, or related fields. The researcher will join the FWO-funded project, “Biological Trait Identity: Modularity, Levels, and Adaptation.” This is a full-time position with some teaching duties. The postdoc will be a part of the Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science at KU Leuven and will be expected to participate in its activities. Please read on for a more detailed description of the project, the position, and the application procedure.
The successful candidate will join Prof. Grant Ramsey’s research group in the Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science at KU Leuven. (See http://www.theramseylab.org for more information about the research group and https://hiw.kuleuven.be/clps for an overview of the Center.) The postdoc will be part of the FWO-funded project, “Biological Trait Identity: Modularity, Levels, and Adaptation,” together with Prof. Ramsey and Dr. Andra Meneganzin. A description of this project is as follows:
Biological organisms are integrated ensembles of traits, which comprise parts and properties in different body regions and levels of organization. These can be, among others, aspects of morphology, physiology, life history, cognition, or behavior. A longstanding idea in evolutionary theory is that traits must be able to change quasi-independently of one another if organisms are to evolve complex adaptations. Conversely, the assumption that certain traits are adaptive (e.g., the human chin) has been criticized as presupposing that those traits possess a degree of independence or “modularity” that is biologically unrealistic. These arguments converge on a common, rarely questioned assumption that the true traits of an organism are determined by the modular organization of its genetic system. In this project we propose to systematically reexamine the neglected question “what is a trait?” in light of recent models of genetic architecture that complicate the modular picture of organisms- including models of compensatory evolution, the omnigenic model of complex traits, and the dissociability of arbitrary traits under artificial selection. We propose to develop a conceptual account of trait individuation that is compatible with non-modular traits, and with complex overlaps, nestedness, and dissociations between traits and modules across multiple levels of organization, while also integrating this new perspective with what is right about the modular view. These investigations promise to shed new light on the classic theme of adaptationism, suggesting that the more intuitive integral picture of the organism is more compatible with adaptability and evolvability than previously appreciated.
As a part of this project, the postdoc will be expected to write and publish journal articles, edit (a book or special issue of a journal), present their work at conferences, and organize one or more workshops. The postdoc will be embedded within the Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science, which is a part of the Institute of Philosophy at KU Leuven. There will be some additional responsibilities linked to the Institute and Center, including some teaching duties (1-2 courses per year).
The applicant must have a PhD degree in a relevant subject. The PhD can be in philosophy, though applicants with a PhD in biology, but who have experience with the philosophy of biology, will be considered. Experience in the evolution of cognition and behavior (in non-human or human animals, hominins, and/or in a comparative biology context) will be particularly valued.
The candidate must be able to teach philosophy and may be asked to teach 1-2 courses per academic year.
The candidate is expected to reside in—or be within commuting distance of—Leuven, Belgium, and participate in the activities of the Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science, including colloquium talks.
The candidate will work under the supervision of Prof. Grant Ramsey and in close collaboration with Dr. Andra Meneganzin. The position is generously funded for a two-year period, and in addition to the salary, some funds will be available for conference travel.
Start date: Flexible, no later than October 2023.
The applicant should submit a cover letter, a brief project proposal (1000-1250 words) that fits with the advertised project, a CV (including a list of 2-3 references with contact information), and a writing sample. The application deadline is March 30th 2023, 23:59 (CET).
For any questions concerning the application, the project, or the position, do not hesitate to contact Prof. Grant Ramsey (firstname.lastname@example.org).
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.