portrait Reynaud

Valentine Reynaud

Affiliated 13-14 (Term II/III)

Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Biology, Philosophy of Cognitive Science, Philosophy of Physics


Former student at the University of Lyon 3 in France, Valentine Reynaud was admitted at the agregation of Philosophy in 2005 (competitive examination for the recruitment of French high school teachers). She worked as Research and Teaching Assistant at the University of Lyon 3 (Department of Philosophy), from 2006 to 2013. Her PhD (2011) was dedicated to the question of innateness regarding in peculiar the mind (both in the classical debate on innate ideas initiated by Descartes and in the contemporary debate on innate cognitive faculties initiated by Chomsky). It proposed a redefinition of innateness and then a way to justify innateness ascriptions. These concerns centre on the intersection of several domains, like developmental biology, ethology, evolution theory, neuroscience and cognitive science. Her wider interests are explanations of organismic capacities and notions like complexity and emergence in different sciences.

Current Project

Are Biological Organisms Dynamical Systems?

Terms from dynamical systems theory (like self-organization, emergence, attractors) are widely used to describe biological (and cognitive) phenomena. Since these notions imply a process increasing robustness despite changes, a process in which pattern at a global order arises from interactions between components at low level, they can help to understand appearance of phenotypes both in evolution and development. But, do ‘self-organization’ or ‘emergence’ have the same meaning in physics and in biology or cognitive science? In what sense can phenotypes or organisms be viewed as ‘biological attractors’? My project aims at interrogating the conditions in which borrowing notions (describing the constitution of wholes) from some disciplines (mathematics, physics) to understand others (biology, cognitive science) is legitimate.

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