A Template to Start

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Wikis come in all shapes and sizes, and this site isn't in the business of imposing—or even recommending—uniformity of appearance or content. That said, some may find it useful to have a template with which to start. What follows is a template based on the Philosophy of Biology Ph.D. Programs wiki (philwiki.net/philbio), aka, PhilBio.net, along with an explanation of, and rationale behind, some of the elements.

It cannot be stressed enough: You do not have to use this template, and, if you do use it, you can modify it in any way you choose.

Get the Template[edit]

For those wanting to skip the explanation and background:

  • The template is online here
  • The basis of the template is here

Install the Template[edit]

To use the template:

  • Click 'Edit' at the top of the online template
  • Select and copy all of the text (or you can copy the contents of the text file, which is identical)
  • Then, click 'Edit' at the top of your own wiki and paste in the text

Make the Template Your Own[edit]

All changes made to your wiki are recorded and can be viewed by clicking the 'Recent changes' link on the upper left-hand side of the page. (That page for this site is here.) You can always undo and redo changes—both your own and those of other editors—so work with a free hand!

Get Your Wiki Online Fast[edit]

The Tips for Admins page offers pointers for getting your wiki up and running in short order. Among other things, it demonstrates how to make good use of the Running List.

How do Wikis most so fast? By using long plain text files that are formatted standardly, and kept open. The basic ethos is: don't reinvent the wheel. Or, benefit from the work of others...more>>>

Background and Reasons Behind the Template's Design[edit]

Prospective graduate students with even modestly specific philosophical interests typically want to apply to programs with strengths in particular areas, e.g., logic, philosophy of biology, etc. Figuring out where those programs are can be incredibly time consuming since there are hundreds of philosophy Ph.D. programs around the world. Identifying the research interests of individual faculty members often requires many clicks to dig down into each website.

What the Philosophy of Biology Ph.D. Programs wiki does is identify as many phil bio programs as possible. It then lists every philosopher of biology at each program along with links to websites, CVs, PhilPapers profiles, specialties, and, when known, indicates whether faculty are willing to take on new students. Collecting this information makes it much easier for prospective graduate students with philosophy of biology interests to get a big-picture view of who is working where and on what. By providing links to relevant information, the wiki facilitates deeper, more thorough, and more efficient research into the specifics of programs. And, of course, since it's a wiki, anyone can add programs and faculty.

Template Elements[edit]

The wiki template has roughly five elements:

  1. A brief description at the top of the page
  2. A message to prospective graduate students explaining the purpose of the site
  3. Directions on how to contribute to the wiki
  4. A Standards, Practices, and Guidelines section that makes clear the criteria used for including programs on the list
  5. And, most importantly, the list of programs

Sections 1, 2, and 3 are fairly generic and can mostly likely be reused with very minor modification.

Section 4 will require more changes to make it discipline specific. Also, you may want to adopt different standards for including programs on the wiki. For a department to count as having a strength in philosophy of biology, all that is necessary is that there be "one full-time faculty member who self-identifies as a philosopher of biology." This inclusive standard was adopted so as not to foreclose options for prospective graduate students by leaving departments off the list.[1]

You should adopt whatever standards are appropriate to your purpose, but please make them explicit on the front-page of the wiki so visitors know what they are looking at. Also, no matter what standards are adopted, it is advisable to err on the side of inclusion (relative to the standards) because that encourages others to contribute to the wiki, and, since items can be removed at any time, there is no real penalty for being inclusive.

Program Listings[edit]

Section 5 lists the Ph.D. programs, which are grouped alphabetically by region/country. Each program entry has a standard appearance, though not every entry lists specialties or indicates whether faculty are willing to work with students. This is a typical entry:

University of Calgary[edit]

  • Megan Delehanty // website, PhilPapers
    • Specialties: Models, explanation, causation (via PhilPapers entries)
  • Marc Ereshefsky // website 1, 2, CV, PhilPapers
    • Specialties: Species; Natural Kinds; Scientific Classification; Biological Individuality; Homology; Historicity; Microbiology (via website)
  • C. Kenneth Waters // website, CV, PhilPapers
    • Specialties: Causation, explanation, molecular biology, genetics, pluralism (via PhilPapers entries)

The wiki markup looks like this (though the spaces between some of the lines must be removed, which is taken care of on the template):

== [http://phil.ucalgary.ca/ University of Calgary] ==

* '''Megan Delehanty''' // [http://phil.ucalgary.ca/philosophy/people/delehanty.html website], [http://philpapers.org/profile/10566 PhilPapers]

** Specialties: Models, explanation, causation (via PhilPapers entries)

* '''Marc Ereshefsky''' // website [http://phil.ucalgary.ca/philosophy/people/ereshefs.html 1], [http://people.ucalgary.ca/~ereshefs/ 2], [http://phil.ucalgary.ca/profiles/215-28363/marc-ereshefsky-cv.pdf CV], [http://philpapers.org/profile/10567 PhilPapers]

** Specialties: Species; Natural Kinds; Scientific Classification; Biological Individuality; Homology; Historicity; Microbiology (via website)

* '''C. Kenneth Waters''' // [http://phil.ucalgary.ca/profiles/c-kenneth-waters website], [https://apps.cla.umn.edu/directory/items/cv/295233.pdf CV], [http://philpapers.org/s/c.%20kenneth%20waters PhilPapers]

** Specialties: Causation, explanation, molecular biology, genetics, pluralism (via PhilPapers entries)

Keeping Listings Simple[edit]

There are three main reasons why these elements were chosen to display on the front-page of the wiki:

  1. They are among the most useful to prospective graduate students as starting points in their research.
  2. They are readily available online, which means anyone can add programs and faculty to the wiki.
  3. The elements are common to almost all philosophers, which allows prospective students to make apples-to-apples comparisons at a glance.

While it may be tempting to add more elements to each entry—program placement records, Google Scholar citations, interdisciplinary opportunities, faculty awards, average yearly temperature, etc.—this information is more difficult to obtain, much more difficult to vet and keep up to date, and will be available for some programs and not others. Displaying fragmented heterogeneous information makes it harder for prospective students to get a baseline starting point for comparing programs. Of course, your wiki is your wiki and should take the form of your choosing.

Wiki Program Pages[edit]

In an Open Wiki, registered users can create their own Wiki Program Pages where additional information of potential interest to prospective graduate students can be listed. Creating pages is very easy and directions from PhilBio.net can be found here.

Wiki Program Pages can take any form and list any information.

Example 1: The University of Cincinnati[edit]

The University of Cincinnati Philosophy Department created a Wiki Program Page on PhilBio.net (shown below) that has more or less the format of a front-page Program Listing. However, the page additionally lists affiliated life sciences faculty—who are likely to be of interest to prospective graduate students in philosophy of biology—as well as current and former graduate students from the program.

Philosophy and the Life Sciences at Cincinnati

The PhD track in Philosophy and the Life Sciences approaches its subject matter by putting the science in the driver’s seat. Students on this track are not only expected to cultivate a broad philosophical background, but also a competence in the science in which they intend to specialize (some pursue an MS). Students can also expect considerable attention to be paid to professional development of research and teaching.


  • Tony Chemero // website, PhilPapers
    • Specialties: neuroscience, ecological psychology, artificial life, dynamical systems and complex systems, cognitive science
    • Willing to work with new students? Yes
  • Valerie Hardcastle // website, PhilPapers
    • Specialties: neurobiology, neuropsychiatry and the law, embodied cognition
    • Willing to work with new students? Yes
  • Koffi N. Maglo // website, PhilPapers
    • Specialties: philosophy of biomedicine, genomics and race, race-based medicine, bioethics
    • Willing to work with new students? Yes
  • Thomas W. Polger // website 1, 2, CV, PhilPapers
    • Specialties: consciousness as a property of biological entities, role of evolutionary theory in thinking about minds, multiple realization, explanation
    • Willing to work with new students? Yes
  • Angela Potochnik // website 1, 2, CV, PhilPapers
    • Specialties: methodology of population biology, behavioral ecology, explanation, idealization, socially engaged philosophy of science, logical empiricism
    • Willing to work with new students? Yes
  • Robert C. Richardson // website, PhilPapers
    • Specialties: evolutionary theory, developmental biology, cognitive science, theory change
    • Willing to work with new students? Yes
  • Robert A. Skipper, Jr. // website 1, 2, PhilPapers
    • Specialties: history of evolutionary genetics, evolutionary genetics, obesity science, controversies, explanation, socially engaged philosophy of science
    • Willing to work with new students? Yes

Affiliate Life Sciences Faculty

  • Arnie Miller // website
    • Specialties: paleobiology, paleoecology
    • Willing to work with new students? Yes
  • Ken Petren // website
    • Specialties: speciation, population divergence, dispersal, species interactions in natural populations, comparative landscape genetics
    • Willing to work with new students? Yes
  • Mike Riley // website
    • Specialties: ecological psychology, complexity science
    • Willing to work with new students? Yes
  • George "Spiderman" Uetz // website
    • Specialties: animal behavior and ecology
    • Willing to work with new students? Yes

Current Philosophy and the Life Sciences Graduate Students

Recent Philosophy and the Life Sciences Graduates

  • Nina Atanasova (VAP at University of Toledo) // website
  • Lindsay Craig (VAP at Temple University) // website
  • Clement Loo (Environmental Studies at University of Minnesota Morris) // website
  • Viorel Paslaru (Associate Professor at University of Dayton) // website

Example 2: UC Davis[edit]

UC Davis also has a Wiki Program Page, which includes a few narrative elements as well as a list of publications:

University of California, Davis


  • James R. Griesemer // website 1, 2, 3, CV, PhilPapers
    • Specialties: Evolutionary biology, genetics, developmental biology, ecology, and systematics
    • Willing to work with new students? Yes
  • Roberta L. Millstein // website 1, 2, 3, CV, PhilPapers
    • Specialties: History and philosophy of evolutionary biology and ecology, causation, chance, environmental ethics
    • Willing to work with new students? Yes

Griesemer/Millstein Philosophy of Biology Lab

UC Davis is home to the Griesemer/Millstein Philosophy of Biology Lab, which was founded by Jim Griesemer and earned its moniker when Roberta Millstein joined the UCD Philosophy Department in Fall 2006.

The Lab is a community of faculty, graduate students, and visitors interested in philosophy of biology and related subjects. We meet once a week during the regular school year to read and discuss our works-in-progress, share ideas for new projects, make presentations and provide feedback on them, read topics of common interest, and engage with visiting scholars. One of the main goals of the Lab is to support graduate students in the various stages of their careers; to that end, topics related to presenting at conferences, publishing in journals, etc., are frequently discussed.

Science & Technology Studies

The philosophy Ph.D. program offers a Designated Emphasis in Science & Technology Studies, where the faculty include historian of science Mario Biagioli and cultural anthropologist Joseph Dumit, author of Drugs for Life (2012 Duke University Press). Both Prof. Millstein and Prof. Griesemer are affiliated faculty with the STS program. And, as it happens, Prof. Griesemer's 1989 “boundary objects” paper with Leigh Star is the most cited paper in Social Studies of Science, a leading STS journal. As of November 2014, the paper has been cited 5,142 times overall.

Current Philosophy of Biology Graduate Students

  • M. A. Hunter
  • Shawn A. Miller // website 1, 2, 3, CV
  • Rick Morris

Current Philosophy of Biology Postdocs

Recent Philosophy of Biology Graduates

  • Bert Baumgaertner, 2013 (tenure-track position at University of Idaho) // website 1, 2, CV
  • Sarah Roe, 2014 (tenure-track position at Southern Connecticut State University) // website, CV

Select Recent Publications


  • Griesemer, J., 2015. “What Salamander Biologists Have Taught Us About Evo-Devo,” in Alan C. Love (ed), Conceptual Change in Biology: Scientific and Philosophical Perspectives on Evolution and Development (Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science, vol. 307). Springer Verlag, Dordrecht, pp 271-301.
  • Griesemer, J., 2014. “Reproduction and Scaffolded Developmental Processes: An Integrated Evolutionary Perspective,” Ch. 12 in Alessandro Minelli and Thomas Pradeu (eds), Towards a Theory of Development, Oxford University Press, pp. 183-202.
  • Caporael, L., J. Griesemer and W. Wimsatt (eds), 2014. Developing Scaffolds in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition, MIT Press.
  • Griesemer, J. 2014. “Reproduction and the Scaffolded Development of Hybrids,” in Caporael et al. (eds), Developing Scaffolds in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition, MIT Press, pp. 23-55.
  • Griesemer, J. 2013. “Integration of Approaches in David Wake’s Model-Taxon Research Platform for Evolutionary Morphology,” Studies in History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44: 525–536. Special Issue edited by I. Brigandt. Available online 12 April 2013 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsc.2013.03.021
  • Griesemer, J. 2013. “Formalization and the Meaning of “Theory” in the Inexact Biological Sciences,” Biological Theory 7: 298-310. OnlineFirst



  • Otsuka, J. (forthcoming). Causal Foundations of Evolutionary Genetics, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. (]http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/10693/ Preprint)]
  • Otsuka, J. (2014). Using Causal Models to Integrate Proximate and Ultimate Causation, Biology and Philosophy. (Link)

Page Categories, Tagging, and Sorting[edit]

Wikis support the creation of page categories, which makes criteria-based browsing possible. PhilBio.net, for instance, categorizes Wiki Program Pages—which basically represent individual philosophy departments—by state and by number of philosophers of biology on faculties. This allows prospective students to see, e.g., all the philosophy of biology Ph.D. programs in California or all programs with three philosophy of biology faculty members.

Detailed instructions on how to implement this can be found elsewhere, but the basic idea is this:

  • Categories are generated by creating pages with the form Category:Name of Category, e.g., Category:4 Faculty Members.
  • Assigning a page to a category simply requires placing the appropriate wiki markup tag anywhere in the page, which takes the form: [[Category:4 Faculty Members]].
  • Allowing users to easily browse pages by category typically requires using a MediaWiki Extension such as CategoryTree, which is installed by default on all PhilWiki.net sites, though the list of available categories on a wiki can always be found at: http://[wiki address]/index.php/Special:Categories.

A potentially helpful—though admittedly labor-intensive—use of this feature is to categorize Ph.D. programs by subspecialty, e.g., within philosophy of biology you have scholars who study systematics or molecular biology or evolution, etc. Tagging Wiki Program Pages with this information—which is in the works for PhilBio.net—provides prospective graduate students with a finer-grained view of programs without crowding front-page Program Listings with additional information.

Encouraging Participation, aka, Crowdsourcing[edit]

A wiki with one editor might as well be a static, html website. While a certain amount of effort may be required of one, or a few, individuals to get a wiki started, many hands, as the saying goes, make light work.

One strategy that worked well for PhilBio.net was to email every faculty member on the initial list letting them know about the project, informing them that they were listed, and encouraging them to edit their own entries by adding areas of specialization, indicating willingness to work with new students, and adding any faculty members from their own departments that may have been omitted. The response was overwhelmingly positive and the initial list of 32 programs rose to 52 in one week.

The letter template can be found here.[2]

  1. Also, making the standard two self-identifying philosophers of biology would mean not listing UC San Diego (Bill Bechtel), UT Austin (Sahotra Sarkar), or the University of Bristol (Samir Okasha), which would count as a reductio argument against the list criterion.
  2. Perhaps it goes without saying, but this item has no license associated with it. You can use, modify, etc., the letter without attribution.