Mme Irene Smadja



Direction(s) de thèse

The question of randomness in biological evolution is widely discussed in biological and philosophical literature. New empirical findings, especially in the field of genetic and molecular biology, seem to challenge the classical understanding of randomness according to the Modern Synthesis. In this project, I aim to consider new empirical findings such as "the phenotypic plasticity of plants" that prima facie, seem to challenge it. Given that both sides, proponents and opponents of the Modern Synthesis consensus view, are based on the same empirical facts, what does lead to the controversy regarding randomness, May this suggest that there are implicit assumptions about randomness in the Modern Synthesis or an implicit conception of randomness and if so, can the revealing of such assumptions relax the requirement for an alternative conception of randomness, or should such an alternative be sought. This raises not only biological questions, but philosophical questions about the roles of assumptions and data within model building and the elaboration of theories. 

This dissertation will explore those questions based on the extant philosophical literature (Merlin, Plutynski, Sober, etc.), with a focus on the recent findings about both theoretical (Stolzfus, etc.) and empirical (Sultan, etc.). The intended outcomes are, regarding philosophy, a clarification of the uses and meanings of the concept of randomness in biology, and in biology itself, an explication of the implicit commitments and assumptions of rival approaches to evolutionary phenomena.

Sujet de thèse

The question of randomness in evolution

Directeur de Thèse

Philippe Huneman


Publications HAL de irene smadja de la collection UNIV-PARIS1