Evolution ‘On Purpose’: Teleonomy in Living Systems

Living systems exhibit an internal teleology, the full implications of which have not been explored. This meeting will address various aspects of this phenomenon, including its scope and meaning, and its many forms and facets.

Date: -
Organiser: Linnean Events
Registration: Register on eventbrite.co.uk

DAY MEETING, 28-29 JUNE 2021

Leafcutter ants
Leafcutter ants

Although it is now widely accepted that living systems exhibit an internal teleology, or teleonomy, the full implications of this distinctive biological property have yet to be explored. This online conference will seek to address various aspects of this important phenomenon, including the origins and history of the teleonomy concept, its scope and meaning, and its many forms and facets. Possible topics may include: an historical review of teleological thinking; teleology (and entelechy) versus teleonomy in evolutionary theory; the nature of teleonomy (who/what is in control, and how?); agency and teleonomy; semiotics and teleonomy; modeling teleonomic processes; teleonomy in the genome, in epigenesis, in physiology, and in behaviour; teleonomy and natural selection; teleonomy in human evolution; and, especially significant, how teleonomy has influenced the evolutionary process.

The Programme Committee includes Peter Corning, Eva Jablonka, Stuart Kauffman, Dennis Noble, Samir Okasha, James Shapiro, Dick Vane-Wright, and Denis Walsh. The organisers are Peter Corning and Dick Vane-Wright.

The conference will be conducted online over two afternoons and two evenings, GMT. Brief talks will be followed by a short Q&A (with questions submitted in advance, based on the abstract/summary of each talk, as posted online – see below). Recordings of each presentation will also be posted online so that registered attendees will have the option to view them later at their convenience. Pre-recorded talks will also be permitted for participants who have time-zone problems. A selection of full-length invited papers based on these talks may subsequently be published in a special issue of The Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

On the final evening, there will be a two-hour discussion that is open to all the registered attendees. During the first hour, anyone who is registered will be able to sign up in advance to offer brief comments. In the second hour, comments/rejoinders will be allowed on a first come-first served basis. A summary of these comments may be used for the journal publication.

Zoom link will be emailed 48 hours before the start of event.

The full programme, with abstracts, will be posted on the Society website from 17 May, 2021. If you have any questions, please address them to Peter Corning (pacorning@complexsystems.org) or Dick Vane-Wright (dickvanewright@gmail.com).

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