- La facultad
Immunology, Individuality, and Philosophy in Science
Immunology, Individuality, and Philosophy in Science. Thomas Pradeu (CNRS & Univ. Bordeaux, France)
Philosophy of biology is dominated by the study of evolution. In this talk, I claim that immunology, one of the most dynamic fields in contemporary biological science and medicine, is just as philosophically fascinating. One of immunology's major philosophical contribution concerns biological individuality, a topic wherein the lessons of evolutionary biology must be combined with those of immunology – and other fields as well. Using examples of host-microbiota interactions and cancer surveillance, I will show why the immune system plays a crucial role in the delineation of biological boundaries (Pradeu, The Limits of the Self: Immunology and Biological Identity. Oxford University Press, New York, 2012).
I will then explain why, with my group in Bordeaux, we have chosen to join an immunology lab. We practice what we call "philosophy in science" (rather than philosophy of science): a daily collaboration with scientists, leading to papers in science journals as much as in philosophy publications. Conceptual, theoretical, and philosophical inputs can intervene at all levels of the scientific process, not least suggesting new experimental hypotheses. This philosophical approach to science, practiced elsewhere but not widely yet, is expanding and transforming the practice of philosophy of science.