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XI.2. Representing the History of Life by Trees: Scientific, Historical and Philosophical Issues
Wednesday, 15 July, Wednesday/15:30-17:30
The Tree of Life has become the focus of a great deal of recent scientific attention as phylogeneticists attempt to resolve all the Tree’s branches in a unique representation of evolutionary history. The theories and practices of building such trees have a long history, and contemporary efforts have recently been forced to confront the problem of a plurality of branching relationships in the microbial world. This session will examine historical, scientific and philosophical issues in the Tree of Life. Mark Ragan (Queensland) will address the history of tree of life analogies, before and after Darwin, in relation to network representations. This comparison is increasingly pertinent as genomic relationships are investigated in today’s molecular biology. Maureen O’Malley (Exeter) will outline different processes of lateral gene transfer and endosymbiosis in order to examine the biological and philosophical status of the entities involved, and the bearing such statuses have on representations of life’s history. Lisa Gannett (St Mary’s, NS) will focus on phylogenetic representation in a single species, Homo sapiens, and the methodological, epistemological and metaphysical implications of reticulation for reconstructing evolutionary history in relation to a population genetics perspective. Rob Wilson (Alberta) will take an explicitly evaluative stance on arguments over the Tree of Life by analysing the variety of claims made in debates about lateral gene transfer in particular. This examination will address central points of each of the preceding presentations and invite further philosophical, historical and scientific reflection on the Tree of Life.
Chair: Richard Burian
XI.5 Trees and networks before and after Darwin
Mark Ragan
Genomics and Computational Biology, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Australia
XI.6 Philosophy of Biology, Ernst Mayr, and the Tree of Life
Maureen O'Malley
Egenis, University of Exeter, United Kingdom
XI.7 Trees, Trellises, and the Garden of Eden
Lisa Gannett
Philosophy, Saint Mary's University, Canada
XI.8 On Arguments Over The Tree of Life
Robert A. Wilson
Philosophy, University of Alberta, Canada