What counts as environment in biology and medicine: Historical, philosophical and sociological perspectives

CfP, Special Issue, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences

‘The environment’ is much invoked in contemporary biosciences and medicine, from the considerations of environmental impact and influence to the frequently and prominently appearing notions such as early-life and food environment. Yet for all the visibility, the meaning of the (ever expanding) term environment is rarely explained in detail. This lack of clarity is important, as it leads to ambiguities about the boundaries of environments. What counts as environment in one field may be understood as organism, or body, in another. For example, the microbiome is simultaneously understood as a part of the organism (constituting together a developmental or evolutionary unit) and as its environment (e.g., in faecal microbiota transplantation). Secondly, this lack of conceptual clarity can contribute to poor communication and impossibility of collaboration between fields. While historians and social scientists have begun to look seriously into the concept of the environment, they have mostly been content to acknowledge the multiplicity of meanings, without trying to sketch a genealogy, or classification of these “environments”, including the epistemological and methodological challenges of each meaning. Against this background, this special issue aims at integrating historical and social with philosophical studies on the environment. We invite contributions that address the following two topics:

  1. Conceptual foundations of the environment in the biosciences
  2. Biomedical perspectives on the environment

For a detailed description of these topics, see here: https://bit.ly/2DvR7bM

Please submit an abstract of max. 500 words until Jan. 15st, 2020 to [email protected] and [email protected]. We will invite full papers by March 01st, 2020, and the deadline for full papers is October 31st, 2020. Full papers will have to follow the general Guide for Authors of Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.