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Alison McConwell

Alison McConwell is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at UMass Lowell.
Alison K. McConwell, Ph.D. Assistant Professor
  • College
    Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Department
    Philosophy
  • Office
    Dugan Hall - 2nd Floor
  • Email
  • Profile Links

Research Interests

Philosophy & Epistemology of Biology & Science; Science & Feminist Values; History of Philosophy of Science & Evolutionary Thought; Stephen Jay Gould; Ethics; Philosophy of Medicine (interests in topics such as philosophy of cancer and qualitative methods); Philosophy of Mind; Developing interests in pragmatism and connections between the history and sociology of biology and philosophy.

Education

  • Postdoctoral SSHRC Fellow (2020-2021), The University of British Columbia (Visiting at University of California, Davis & Stanford University for associated archival and research work)
  • Postdoctoral Scholar (2018-2020), Stanford University, Patrick Suppes Center for the History & Philosophy of Science
  • Postdoctoral Fellow (2017-2018), University of Calgary, From Biological Practice to Scientific Metaphysics Collaborative Initiative
  • Ph.D. Philosophy (2017), University of Calgary Dissertation Title: Individuality, the Major Transitions and the Evolutionary Contingency Thesis
  • M.A. Philosophy (2011), Western University Research Project Title: Subcortical Structures and Their Role in Conscious Function
  • B.A. with High Honours in Philosophy (2010), University of Regina Honours Thesis Title: How to Build a Moral Bridge with Words

Biosketch

Office Hours: Tuesday: 1-2 p.m., Wednesday: 3-5 p.m.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • 2020 SSHRC Insight Grant (w/ other co-PIs)
  • 2020 Friedman-Longino Fellowship
  • 2016 Philip E. Vernon Award
  • 2016 Philosophy Graduate Essay Competition Award
  • 2015 Canadian Journal of Philosophy Conference Grant
  • 2015 Faculty of Arts Dean's Office Graduate Scholarship
  • 2014 SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, University of Calgary
  • 2013 Queen Elizabeth II Scholarship, University of Calgary
  • 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Scholarship, University of Calgary
  • 2010 Leslie A. Dybvig Scholarship in Ethics, University of Regina
  • 2008 Academic Gold Scholarship, University of Regina

Selected Publications

    Books
  • A Guidebook to Biological Individuality. Cambridge Elements Series (Under Contract).

    Article Length Contributions
  • 2019 Contingency's Causality and Structural Diversity, Biology and Philosophy, 34: 1-26.
  • 2019 Walking the Line: A Tempered View of Contingency and Convergence in Life's History. An Essay on Jonathan Losos: Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution (2017). Acta Biotheoretica, 67(3): 253-264.
  • 2017 Contingency and Individuality: A Plurality of Individuality Types. Philosophy of Science, 84(5): 1104-1116.
  • 2017 Gouldian Arguments and the Sources of Contingency (with Adrian Currie). Biology and Philosophy, 32 (2): 243-261.
  • 2010 The Natural Way to Build a Moral Bridge with Words. In Exploring the Cave, 4, Philosophy Undergraduate Journal. SK: University of Regina.

    Book Reviews
  • 2021 Review of A Meaning to Life by Michael Ruse (2019). For The Quarterly Review of Biology, 96: 34-35.
  • 2020 Old Haunts and New Insights. Review of Otavio Bueno, Ruey-Lin Chen, and Melinda Bonnie Fagan (eds.) Individuation, Process, and Scientific Practice (2018). For History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 42: 4.
  • 2020 Review of Kostas Kampourakis Turning Points: How Critical Events Have Driven Human Evolution, Life, and Development (2018). For The Quarterly Review of Biology, 95(1): 78-79.
  • 2016 Review of Maureen O'Malley's Philosophy of Microbiology (2014). In The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 67(3): 931-935.
  • 2015 Review of Thomas Pradeu's The Limits of the Self: Immunology and Biological Identity(2012). In Philosophy in Review 35 (3): 171-173.

    Editorial Experience
  • Co-editor (with Derek Turner). Historical Contingency: Epistemic & Non-Epistemic Values in Historical Sciences. Journal of the Philosophy of History Special Issue. See recent call for papers: https://www.oulu.fi/centreforphilosophyofhistory/jphcfc2021

Selected Presentations

  • April 2021. Individuality by Design: Conventional Ideals & Rebellious Nature. Universidade de Lisboa, Center of Philosophy, Emergence Project Seminar. Talk recording available soon at: https://www.kdyates.com/events/#upcoming
  • 2020 February. Contingency as a Causal Force (or not). Patrick Suppes Center for the History and Philosophy of Science Colloquia Series, Stanford University.
  • 2019 July. Contingency as a Causal Force (or not). The International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology. University of Oslo, Norway.
  • 2019 May. Individuation by Design. Greater Cascadia History and Philosophy of Science Workshop. Simon Fraser University, Downtown Vancouver Canada Campus.
  • 2018 December. Why Contingency Matters for Evolutionary Individuality and Future Directions for Practical Applications of Individuality Concepts, Patrick Suppes Center for the History and Philosophy of Science Colloquia Series, Stanford University.
  • 2018 November. The Disunity of Major Transitions in Evolution. For the poster forum at the 26th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, November 1st-4th, 2018, Seattle, Washington.
  • 2018 October. Tracking Medical Interventions that Target Cancer Kinds. Philosophy of Cancer Biology Workshop, October 15th-17th 2018, University of Bordeaux, France.
  • 2017 October. Cancer Beyond Its Role in Natural Selection: Tracking Medical Interventions that Target Cancer Kinds. Northwest Philosophy Conference, October 5th-7th 2017, Washington State University, Pullman, U.S.
  • 2017 August. Contingency and MacroEvolution. Society of Vertebrate Paleontology: Thinking About Fossils, Philosophy of Paleontology Workshop, August 22nd, 2017, University of Calgary.
  • 2017 August. Evolutionary Contingency is Both Destructive and Productive of Diversity. Philosophy Meets Paleobiology in the Badlands, August 25th-28th, 2017, Sandstone Lodge, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta.
  • 2016 November. Contingency and Individuality: A Plurality of Evolutionary Individuality Types. 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, Nov. 3-5th, 2016, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • 2016 May. Contingency and Individuality: A Plurality of Evolutionary Individuality Types. Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science. UCalgary.
  • 2015 November. Biological Individuals. The Apeiron Society for the Practice of Philosophy. Scandinavian Centre, Calgary, AB.
  • 2015 July. Contingency and Individuality. Interdisciplinary Individuality Workshop July 27th-31st 2015, Superorganisms, Organisms, and Suborganisms as Biological Individuals: Individuality in the Life Sciences. Gut Siggen, Germany.
  • 2015 July. Biological Individuality and the Evolutionary Contingency Thesis. The International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology. UQAM.
  • 2013 May. 'Incomplete' Conscious Experience: An Investigation into the Nature of Animal Pain. The Eleventh Annual Graduate Conference in Philosophy of Mind, Language, and Cognitive Science. The University of Western Ontario.