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Research & Initiatives

Our research explores the ways scientists use functional metaphors and concepts to understand the changing workings of Earth, and the role of living organisms in its patterns and processes. It draws on concepts and analysis from a wide range of philosophical and scientific sources to do this.

Here are a few of the areas of literature that inspire and inform our work.


First up is the work in philosophy of biology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language that has investigated the concept (or concepts) of function over the last 50 years or so - including both classic sources that set the terms of the debate, and recent contributions that open up new theoretical perspectives.

Another strand of thinking that has shaped our approach comes from ecology: investigations of ecosystem resilience and collapse, work that extends ecological concepts to the global scale, and analysis of the roles of functional thinking in ecology.

phytoplankton NASA_edited.jpg
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