The Explanatory Scope of Generalized Darwinism:

Towards Criteria for Evolutionary Explanations

Outside Biology (GenDar)


Joint Hannover-Paris research project, funded 2020-2023 by the German and French Research Foundations (DFG and ANR). See here and here (pdf).


The Gen(eralized)Dar(winism) project is hiring!


The GenDar project (Hannover/Paris) invites applications for two positions as Research Assistant (m/f/d) (Doctoral Candidate in Philosophy of Science) starting May 1, 2020, or as soon as possible thereafter. The positions are limited in duration to three years. One position is based at the Institut für Philosophie, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany, the other at the Institut d’Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences et des Techniques, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, France.


The GenDar project

The research project “The Explanatory Scope of Generalized Darwinism: Towards Criteria for Evolutionary Explanations Outside Biology” (GenDar) is funded jointly by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR). The project consists of two research teams, one in Hannover and one in Paris, and is jointly lead by Thomas Reydon (Hannover) and Philippe Huneman (Paris). The overarching objective of the project is to achieve clarity on the epistemic potential and the possible societal consequences of applying evolutionary thinking outside biology.


While there is no a priori reason to think that Darwinian evolutionary theory could not be used outside biology to generate scientific explanations of non-biological phenomena, it remains unclear which criteria need to be met for such applications to succeed. The project aims to formulate such criteria and in so doing to provide a profound understanding of the possible explanatory scope of Darwinian evolutionary theory. To achieve this aim, the GenDar project investigates different ways of formalizing Darwinian evolutionary theory, different ways of conceptualizing the metaphysics of evolutionary processes, and the possible wider consequences for both biology and society of developing and applying generalized versions of Darwinian evolutionary theory. A more detailed project description can be found here.


The candidates

The successful candidates’ main task will be to conduct research on a dissertation project on topics investigated in the GenDar research project. Both dissertations will be jointly supervised by the PIs of the GenDar project, Thomas Reydon and Philippe Huneman, but the PhD degrees will be awarded by each doctoral candidate’s home institution (i.e., Leibniz Univer-sität Hannover and Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne respectively). Both candidates will work in close cooperation with the research team at the partner university and spend several brief research visits with the partner team.


To qualify for the position, applicants should hold a university degree in an area relevant to the GenDar research project (typically a Master’s degree in Philosophy, HPS, (Theoretical) Biology, or a related area). Applicants should be fluent in English and should be able to clearly demonstrate an interest in the topics studied in the GenDar project (i.e., the epistemology and metaphysics of evolutionary theory, formalizations of evolutionary theory, evolutionary social science and economics, the use of theories from the natural sciences in the social sciences, etc.). A demonstrable background in Philosophy of Biology and/or (Theoretical) Evolutionary Biology will be advantageous.


The application

While the GenDar project is a joint project of two teams based at two universities, each doctoral candidate will be employed by one of the partner institutions. Each participating institution has its own specific conditions of employment and the institutions have separate hiring processes. This means that applicants who wish to be considered for both available positions must send two applications, one to Hannover and one to Paris. For formal administrative reasons, candidates who only apply to one of the two participating institutions can only be considered by the institution to which they applied.


The job advertisements for the respective positions and other relevant documentation are available here:

  • Overarching ad for both positions (in English, pdf)
  • Job ad for the Hannover position (in German: pdf and online at the LUH job site)
  • Job ad for the Hannover position (in English: pdf and online at the LUH job site)
  • Job ad for the Paris position (in French, online at the CNRS job site)
  • Job ad for the Paris position (in English, online at the CNRS job site
  • GenDar project description (in English, pdf).

Candidates are requested to follow the specific instructions for the position for which they are applying. Please note that in their application candidates must explain why they have a clear interest in being part of either the Hannover team or the Paris team. (Candidates who apply for both positions should use the same text in their cover letter, but at least express a preference for one of the two locations. Expressing a preference for one location does not preclude a candidate from being considered for the position at the other location.)


The deadline for both applications is March 21, 2020. Interviews will be conducted online in April 2020.


(Pre-announcement: Late 2020 / early 2021 we will also be hiring two postdoctoral researchers, one for the Hannover team and one for the Paris team. Keep an eye out for the announcements, which will be posted on this site.)