The Ramsey Philosophy of Biology Lab

Research in the Ramsey Lab is focused on the conceptual foundations of evolutionary theory, the study of human and non-human animal behavior, the moral emotions, and the automated text mining of scientific literature.

Conceptual foundations of evolutionary theory

Central questions in this project are: What is the nature of key concepts in evolutionary theory, like fitness, selection, and drift? How should we understand the causal structure of evolutionary theory?

Behavior in humans and other animals

Central questions in this project are: How are concepts like culture, innovation, and altruism translated from the human realm to that of non-human animals? Are such concepts merely loose analogies, or are they capturing the same thing (same kind of process, or perhaps a homologous structure)?


Central questions in this project are: Why do cells and the organisms they compose die when and how they do? Can death be an adaptation? What does it mean for death to be programmed?

On the human

Central questions in this project are: What is human nature? Can human nature be a guide in ethical questions like that of human biomedical enhancement?

The moral emotions

Central questions in this project are: What distinguishes the moral emotions from one another? Which taxa exhibit these emotions and what explains their origins?

Causal inference

Central questions in this project are: How can data be used to make causal inferences? How can historical data be leveraged to support causal inferences in the absence of randomized controlled trials?

Computational Frontiers in History and Philosophy of Science

The central question in this project is: What insight can we gain about the nature and history of science by applying text analysis tools from the digital humanities to the scientific literature?


The Evolution Working Group

While at Notre Dame, I ran an interdisciplinary working group that discussed and critiqued recent works on (or in some way related to) evolution. We occasionally published reviews of the books that we discussed.