I am interested in many areas of biology and psychobiology.
I am willing to supervise postgraduate research projects on most topics in the philosophy of biology, many topics in the naturalistic philosophy of mind, and a range of topics in the general philosophy of science. Here are some specific projects I am working on at this time and a few relevant publications. A full list of my publications can be found on the Publications page
- Innateness and human nature. This work began with my (2002) What is Innateness? The Monist, 85(1): 70-85. Recent work was been carried out under a five-year ARC Discovery Grant (2008-12) held jointly with Dr Karola Stotz. We start from the premiss that there is something to be said about what humans are like. Human nature in the sense of an underlying cause is whatever explains human nature in this simple, descriptive sense. Hence, in our view, human nature is human developmental biology. I defended the resulting views of human nature in my inaugural professorial lecture at Sydney, published as Griffiths, P. E. (2009). “Reconstructing human nature.” Arts: The Journal of the Sydney University Arts Association 31: 30-57. This research included some ‘experimental philosophy’ studies on the innateness concept, the latest of which was Linquist, S., E. Machery, P.E. Griffiths & K. Stotz. (2011). “Exploring the Folkbiological Conception of Human Nature.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 366: 444-453.
- The changing concept of the gene, both for its intrinsic interest and as a case study of conceptual change in science. This work is mostly conducted jointly with Dr Karola Stotz and our book on the topic will appear soon Griffiths, P. E. and K. Stotz (In Press April 2013). Genetics and Philosophy: An introduction. New York, Cambridge University Press. An article in The Australian newspaper, posted here gives an accessible introduction to some of this work. Amongst other things, this work provides the molecular underpinnings for the view of human nature mentioned above.
- Developmental Systems Theory. Recent publications on this topic include: Griffiths, P. E. and J. G. Tabery (In Press). “Developmental Systems Theory: What Does it Explain, and How Does It Explain It? .” Advances in Child Development and Behavior 45; Griffiths, P. E., and R. Gray. (2005).Three Ways to Misunderstand Developmental Systems Theory. Biology & Philosophy, 20:417-425.
- The sciences of emotion. My 1997 book on this topic argued that the states and processes that fall under the vernacular term ‘emotion’ do not form a single ‘natural kind’ for the purposes of scientific study. My most recent publications on this topic are: Griffiths, P. E. (In Press). “Current research in philosophy of emotion.” Emotion Review; Scarantino, A. and P. E. Griffiths (2011). “Don’t Give Up on Basic Emotions.” Emotion Review 3(4): 444-454.
- Idealisation in the experimental biosciences. This work has two strands, first work on the homology concept, a topic on which Ingo Brigandt (Alberta) and I edited the 2007 special issue of Biology and Philosophy, and second a radical new interpretation of Dobzhansky’s dictum that ‘nothing in biology make sense except in the light of evolution’, defended in Griffiths, P. E. (2009). “In what sense does ‘nothing in biology make sense except in the light of evolution’?” Acta Biotheoretica 57(1-2): 11-32.
- I continue to be interested in the history of ethology, but am not actively writing on this topic at the present time. My most recent publication on this topic was Griffiths, P.E. (In Press). Ethology, Sociobiology, Evolutionary Psychology, in Sarkar, S and Plutyinski, A Blackwell’s Companion to Philosophy of Biology, Oxford: Blackwells.