Jeffrey Barrett Professor Barrett's research has concerned the coevolution of language, inference, and empirical and mathematical knowledge in the context of signaling games. He is particularly interested in the evolution of complex rule-following behavior from the composition of simpler rules.
Simon Huttegger Much of Professor Huttegger's work is on evolutionary game theory, especially the evolution of signaling and methodological issues of game theoretic models in biology. He's also working on the topics in foundations of probability, inductive learning, and measurement in the life sciences.
Cailin O'Connor Professor O'Connor has worked on diverse topics in the philosophy of biology and the social sciences including the evolution of signaling, learning, moral emotions, norms, and perception. Her general approach to these topics involves using game theory and evolutionary game theory to gain traction on questions that are otherwise difficult to tackle. Her current project looks at the emergence of inequitable social norms, and the impact of such norms on scientific progress.
Lauren Ross Professor Ross's research concerns causal reasoning and explanation in the biological sciences. A main focus of her work involves examining diverse forms of explanation in biology, including explanations that appeal to distinct causal concepts such as mechanisms, pathways, and cascades. Her other interests include causal selection, pragmatic dimensions of explanation, and how scientists manage causal complexity in their efforts to understand phenomena in the world.
Brian Skyrms Professor Skyrms's recent work has focused on applying dynamics of evolution and learning to issues in the formation of Social Contracts, broadly conceived. These include altruism and spite, co-operation and competition, signaling and the evolution of information transfer.
Kyle Stanford Professor Stanford has worked on problems concerning the units of selection and the nature of biological species. More recently his interests in this area have centered on the evolution of higher cognitive functions in human beings and other primates, especially the evolution of complex forms of cognition, language, and moral psychology.
Sean Greenberg in the Department of Philosophy has related interests in historical thinking about biology, especially the early modern period (Descartes to Kant), and its interconnections with contemporary views.
Students in this group have largely brought game- and decision-theoretic methods to bear on a variety of topics; they include Sarita Rosenstock (formal social epistemology, emotions), Gerard Rothfus (decision theory, learning), Justin Bruner (diversity, social contracts, signaling), Greg McWhirter (signalling, deception), Hannah Rubin (cooperation, sexual reproduction), Rory Smead (social behavior, learning, ethics), Elliott Wagner (signalling, cooperations), and Kevin Zollman (signalling, cooperation, ethics, the social structure of science). Affiliated faculty include Francisco Ayala, Jean Paul Carvalho, Steven Frank, Arthur Lander, Michael McBride, Louis Narens, and Donald Saari. These faculty are among those available for course work and consultation for students in the Biology and the Behavioral Sciences Emphasis.
Faulty in this research group maintain close ties to the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences at UC Irvine. During the fall and winter quarters, many faculty and students participate in the ongoing Social Dynamics seminar, organized by Skryms, Narens and Saari. In this seminar, local and visiting scholars present original research in the behavioral sciences. In addition, Stanford and O'Connor organize the Southern California Philosophy of Biology Group. This group, which meets quarterly to hear a talk from a visiting or local philosopher of biology, attracts students and faculty from universities throughout Southern California.
Upcoming and Recent Events
Workshop on Formal Social Epistemology
Social Dynamics Conference
Evolution, Game Theory, and the Social Contract Conference
Laguna Workshop: Skyrmsfest
Laguna Workshop: Philosophy of Biology
Ongoing Activities of the Biology and the Behavioral Sciences Group
Social Dynamics Seminar