Ellen
Clarke

I am a philosopher of biology who works on levels of selection in evolutionary theory, the problem of defining the organism in biology, cultural selection theory, and anything connecting evolution to bacteria, plants, political philosophy, gender, or human cognition.

I am a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Leeds.
Previously, I was a postdoctoral fellow at All Souls College, Oxford.

[email protected]

Publications

  • Coming soon...

Research

Selected talks

  • 'What are Major Transitions?' at ESEB 2017 , August 2017, Groningen.
  • 'Rethinking reproduction' at ISHPSSB 2015, July 5-10, Montreal.
  • 'On biological individuality', Moral Sciences Club, Jan 2015, Cambridge.
  • 'On the subject of bacteriology', UCL STS, November 2015, London.
  • 'How to count organisms', BSPS meeting, October 2014, LSE.
  • 'Bacterial Individuality', Keynote at PBUK 2014, April 2014, Cambridge.
  • 'The organism concept in biology' at Groups and Individuals conference, May 2012, Almora, India.

Conference organisation

Reading groups

  • Coming soon...

Work in progress

  • Can cultural selection drive an adaptive process? - A paper which evaluates different attempts to articulate an account of cultural evolution in which a cultural process that is analagous to natural selection leads to better cultural artefacts
  • Inheritance and cooperation - A review of different ways in which inheritance can be thought about, and the implications of different versions for our understanding of the evolution of cooperation.
  • How to count organisms - A paper which explain how organism counts can go wrong and what to do to get the answer right.
  • Individuality as a disposition - Here I explore the conceptual constraints that follow from treating organismality as a dispoitional capacity. In other words, what limitations do dispositional kinds have when it comes to supporting inferences and functioning in laws, compared to 'natural' kinds?
  • Why mentalise? - I'm interested in explaining how and why humans have evolved to track each other's mental states.
  • Transposon individuality - How, if at all, should we understand transposeable elements as constituting units of selection in their own right?
  • Societal organismality - Are humans stalled partway through an evolutionary transition in individuality (Stearns 2007)? What are the similarities between human and biological solutions to policing, demarcation, and individuation problems? What policy/political theoretical lessons might we learn from articulating such similarities?
  • The evolution of political differences - An evaluation of EP stories about the adaptive functions of different political ideologies.

Media

Teaching

  • Philosophy of Biology
    Undergraduate modules at levels 2 and 3, and masters classes
  • Philosophy of Science.
    Introductory module for first year undergraduates
  • Feminist Philosophy
    Undergraduate module, level 3
  • Philosophy of Race
    Undergraduate module, level 2
  • I am interested in supervising doctoral projects in cultural evolution theory or any area of philosophy of biology