Javier Suárez

Department: Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology
Discipline: Sociology and Philosophy
Research Centre/Unit: EGENIS - Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences

Project Summary

My PhD project is focused on the intimate relationship extant between the widespread biological phenomenon of symbiosis and the principle of natural selection. 

Symbiosis, widely understood as 'the living together of different named organisms', is ubiquitous, and it codetermines the way biological organisms evolve and adapt to their environment. A canonical example, the bacteria which are present in the guts of most ruminants, are thought to have coevolved with their hosts which, instead of developing particular structures to cope with their strictly herbivorous diet, developed structures to sustain and preserve their symbiotic bacteria. This poses a problem for traditional models of natural selection, which only take into account the individual: how should we determine individuality in the case of ruminants? Should their gut bacteria be considered evolutionarily independent from the host? Notions such as 'holobiont', 'hologeneme', 'symbiome' and 'superorganism' should be introduced in our evolutionary models in a manner that makes them consistent with the notions of inheritance, fitness and variation, taken to be the three essential properties for evolution by natural selection to occur.

The point of departure of my research project assumes, following recent developments on biology, holobionts (symbiotic organisms) to be targets of natural selection and the main purpose is to develop a conceptual framework for justifying how and why they are in fact targets of selection.

Supervisory Team

My supervisors are John Dupré (EGENIS - University of Exeter) and Jose Díez (LOGOS - University of Barcelona)

Wider Research Interests

My research interests are mainly focused on philosophy of biology, but I am also interested in general topics of philosophy of science, such as scientific explanation, scientific revolutions, theoretical change, the structure of scientific theories and the issue of scientific realism, among others.

Additionally, I am interested in certain topics of philosophy of mind –such as the nature of emotions, the nature of mental contents or the nature of intentionality; metaphysics –emergence, grounding; philosophy of language and epistemology.

Authored Publications/Reports

J. Suárez Díaz (2015) El mecanismo evolutivo de Margulis y los niveles de selección, Contrastes, XX (i), 101-18

J. Suárez (2016) Bacterial species pluralism in the light of medicine and endosymbiosis, Theoria , 31/1, 91-107