CFP: “Normativity and the Life Sciences: Analytical and Continental Perspectives” (History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences. 2021 Special Issue)

We are happy to announce a call for papers for the 2021 Special Issue of  History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, which will focus on the following topic: Normativity and the Life Sciences: Analytical and Continental Perspectives.

Please find the text of the call below.


 Normativity and the Life Sciences

Analytical and Continental Perspectives

2021 Special Issue

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences

Guest editors: Luca Corti, Ivan Moya-Diez, Matteo Vagelli



We are inviting submissions for a Special Issue of History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences. This special issue will be devoted to the topic of ‘Normativity and the Life Sciences: Analytical and Continental Perspective’. Below you can find the rationale of the Issue.



In recent years, normativity and the status of norms have been at the center of several key debates in both the Continental and analytical traditions.. The question of normativity encompasses contentious issues touching various areas, including philosophy of biology, philosophy of mind and cognition, as well as metaethics. The development of disciplines tied to evolution (such as evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology, etc.) as well as to the organisation of living beings (such as system biology) has driven a new interest and led to the introduction of crucial new perspectives into the philosophical conversation on norms.
Within this framework, the relation between norms and the phenomenon of life has become central: various thinkers coming from different philosophical traditions have analysed the problem of normativity from the premise that norms originate within life or the living organism and are tied to functions, or located norms in an evolutionary framework. Arguments from the life sciences have powerfully entered the debate not only in philosophy of medicine but also in metaethics.
We intend this special issue to open space for dialogue between philosophers and historians of science with different methodological approaches to normativity and its relation to the life sciences. By putting Continental, historical, and analytical approaches to vital normativity in conversation, the special issue aims to provide a synoptic view that sheds new light on individual topics, such as the origins and status of normativity in life or the strategies for naturalising norms offered by the theoretical framework of the life sciences. This dialogue will mobilize the work of Canguilhem, and, through him, the approach fostered by historical epistemology. It will engage analogous questions emerging from a classical German context. Literature on classical German philosophy and the problem of living normativity is abundant and scholarship on Canguilhem biology and vitalism is growing steadily, but no relevant connection between them has yet been drawn. This special issue will bring these two strands together and connect them with contemporary Anglo-American debates on the naturalisation of norms.


Topics for submitted papers might include, but are not limited to:


  • Normativity and explanation in the life sciences

  • Forms and accounts of biological normativity

  • The notion of “function”: philosophical and historical perspectives

  • Norms and evolution

  • Historical reflection on normativity, life and cognition (in areas such as French Epistemology, Classical German Philosophy, etc.)

  • Vital normativity and the epistemology of the life sciences

  • Teleology and its normative import: philosophical and historical aspects

  • The relation between social and vital norms


Invited contributors:

Michael Ruse (Florida State University)

Dennis Walsh (Toronto)

Peter McLaughlin (Heidelberg)

Monica Greco (Goldsmith, University of London)

Maria Muhle (Munchen)

Silvia De Cesare (Université de Genève)

Submission instructions:


All submissions, as well as inquiries about submissions to the special  issue, should be sent by e-mail to the guest editors:

Submissions must not be submitted to or be under review at other journals, books, etc.

Submissions should not be longer than 9000 words, they should be sent as .doc files and they should include an abstract of 150 to 250 words. The abstract should not contain any undefined abbreviations or unspecified references.

Submissions should be prepared for blind review: All identifying information about the author(s) such as names or institutional affiliations, have to be removed. Self-citations have to be anonymized.

Submission deadline:  October 15th, 2020 

For a .pdf version of the Call, see this link


Printable Version