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2024-04-12
KLI in the world: KLI Fellow Ludo Schoenmakers will give a talk at the conference Evolution at the Edges of Life: Origins, Artificial Systems, and the Conceptual Limits of Evolutionary Theory

KLI Fellow Ludo Schoenmakers will give a talk at the conference Evolution at the Edges of Life: Origins, Artificial Systems, and the Conceptual Limits of Evolutionary Theory.

This conference will be held at the Paris Institute for Advanced Study (IEA de Paris), from 22-23 April, 2024

This conference is organized by the CNRS, the University of Hanover, the IHPST, and the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, with the support of the ANR (ANR-DFG GenDar Program) and the IEA of Paris.

Ludo’s talk is titles: Minimal Evolutionary Theory at the Origins of Life

Abstract:

Evolutionary theory has a tremendous explanatory power when it comes to understanding the biological world. While evolutionary theory is multifaceted, its logic is fairly straightforward, which has led to numerous evolutionary research programs in various fields of research (economy, literary studies, epistemology, et cetera). These research programs tend to have at least the following two properties: (i) they are non-biological; (ii) they rely on the assumption that evolutionary is sufficiently ontologically and epistemically domain-independent to be applied to domains other than organismal biology.

In my project at the KLI, I focus on a near-biological evolutionary research program that is both theoretical and empirical, namely evolutionary theory as applied to Origins of Life (OoL) research. The central question is ‘How, if at all, can evolutionary theory be applied to the pre-biological emergence and development of life?’ Answering this question requires solving several issues surrounding (i) the extension of evolutionary theory from a theoretical and philosophical perspective, (ii) the conceptualization of the transition from prebiotic chemistry to cellular life, and (iii) the current use of evolutionary theory and its concepts by the OoL community.

In this talk, I will give a brief overview of the project, but otherwise I will focus on elucidating the requirements for extending evolutionary theory beyond organismal biology. I will try to make sense of a ‘minimal evolutionary theory.’