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James Griesemer

James Griesemer

Professor and Department Chair

2011 – 2014 Herbert A. Young Society Dean’s Fellow, UC Davis


2297 Social Science and Humanities Building
Davis , Ca 95616
Office Phone: (530) 554-4396


  1. Ph.D. 1983, Conceptual Foundations of Science, University of Chicago
  2. M.S. 1981, Biology, University of Chicago
  3. A.B. 1977, Genetics, University of California, Berkeley


Dissertation: "Communication and Scientific Change: An Analysis of Conceptual Maps in the Macroevolution Controversy," directed by William Wimsatt

Areas of Specialization: Philosophy of biology, history and philosophy of science

Joined the UC Davis Philosophy Faculty: 1983

Departmental Affiliations

Center for Population Biology,

Population Biology Graduate Group,

Science and Technology Studies Program,

Center for Science and Innovation Studies,


2013-14 Course Schedule


PHI 31- Appraising Scientific Reasoning

PHI 189i - Special Topics in Philosophy of Science: Evolution in Four Dimensions (Jablonka and Lamb)


Not Teaching


STS 131 - Darwin

PHI 208 - Philosophy of Biology Seminar

2012-13 Course Schedule

Not teaching


31- Appraising Scientific Reasoning

208 - Philosophy of Science Seminar


189I – Special Topics in Philosophy of Science
STS 131 – Darwin

Other Courses

31 Appraising Scientific Reasoning
38 Introduction to Philosophy of Biology
108 Philosophy of the Biological Sciences
208 Philosophy of Biology Seminar
210 Philosophy of Science Seminar
Science and Technology Studies 131 Darwin

Recent Publications

Griesemer, J., in press. “Reproduction and Scaffolded Developmental Processes: An Integrated Evolutionary Perspective,” in Alessandro Minelli and Thomas Pradeu (eds), Towards a Theory of Development, Oxford University Press.

Griesemer, J. in press. “Sharing Spaces, Crossing Boundaries.” In Geof Bowker and Stephan Timmermans (eds),Boundary Objects and Beyond: Working with Leigh Star. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Griesemer, J., in press. “Integration of Approaches in David Wake’s Model-Taxon Research Platform for Evolutionary Morphology ,” in I. Brigandt (ed.), Special Issue of Studies in History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences.

Griesemer, J., in press. “What Salamander Biologists Have Taught Us About Evo-Devo,” in A. Love (ed), Conceptual Change in Biology: Scientific and Philosophical Perspectives on Evolution and Development (Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science) Springer Verlag.

Caporael, L., J. Griesemer and W. Wimsatt (eds), Developing Scaffolds in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition, MIT Press. in press.

Griesemer, J. “Reproduction and the Scaffolded Development of Hybrids,” in Caporael et al. (eds), Developing Scaffolds in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition, MIT Press. in press.

Griesemer, J. 2012 “Formalization and the Meaning of “Theory” in the Inexact Biological Sciences,” Biological TheoryOnlineFirst

Griesemer, J. 2011. “Heuristic Reductionism and the Relative Significance of Epigenetic Inheritance in Evolution,” in Hallgrímsson, Benedikt and Brian K. Hall (eds), Epigenetics: Linking Genotype and Phenotype in Development and Evolution, Berkeley: University of California Press, 14-40.

Griesemer, J. 2011. “The relative significance of epigenetic inheritance in evolution: Some philosophical considerations,” in Snait Gissis and Eva Jablonka (eds), Transformations of Lamarckism: from subtle fluids to molecular biology, MIT Press, 331-344.

Shavit, A. and J. Griesemer, 2011. “Mind the Gaps: Why Are Niche Construction Processes So Rarely Used?” in Snait Gissis and Eva Jablonka (eds), Transformations of Lamarckism: from subtle fluids to molecular biology, MIT Press, 307-317.

Griesemer, J. 2011. “Baeolophus inornatus affabilis,” in Azzouni, S., C. Brandt, B. Gausemeir, J. Kursell, H. Schmidgen, and B. Wittmann (eds), Eine Naturgeschichte für Das 21. Jahrhundert: Hommage A zu Ehren von Hans-Jörg Rheinberger. Berlin: Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, pp. 138-140.

Shavit, A. and J. Griesemer 2011, “Transforming Objects into Data: How Minute Technicalities of Recording “Species Location” Entrench a Basic Challenge for Biodiversity,” in Martin Carrier & Alfred Nordmann (eds.),Science in the Context of Application: Methodological Change, Conceptual Transformation, Cultural Reorientation. Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. 274. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 169-193.

Shavit, A. and J. Griesemer 2009, “There and Back Again, or, The Problem of Locality in Biodiversity Surveys,”Philosophy of Science 76(3): 273-294.

"Gánti's Chemoton Model and Life Criteria," Chapter 22 in Protocells: Bridging Nonliving and Living Matter, Steen Rasmussen, Liaohai Chen, Norman Packard, Mark Bedau, Liaohai Chen, David Deamer, David Krakauer, Norman Packard, and Peter Stadler (Eds.), MIT Press (2009), 481-512 (with Eörs Szathmáry).

"Origins of Life Studies," Chapter 11 in Michael Ruse (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology, New York: Oxford University Press (2008), 263-290.

Recent Talks

Keynote Address, “Model Taxa as Platforms for Biological Research,” Society for the Philosophy of Science in Practice, Toronto, June 26-29, 2013.

“What Salamander Biologists Have Taught Us About Evo-Devo (and natural history and model systems),” HPS Workshop, University of Chicago, 26 October, 2012.

Keynote Address, National Committee for HPS, Australian Academy of Sciences, “What Salamander Biologists Have Taught Us About Evo-Devo, Sydney, 29 September 2012.

Alberto Coffa Memorial Lecture, Indiana University, “On the Status of Hybrids: A Relational View of Individuality, Development and Units of Inheritance,” March 23, 2012.

Recent PhD Students

Michael Trestman, currently NSF post-doc at Indiana University with Colin Allen

Vadim Keyser, on the job market



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1240 Social Science and Humanities
University of California, Davis
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