I'm an Assistant Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, specializing in the philosophy of the biological and behavioural sciences. Most of my work concerns the evolution of social behaviour, though I have also written on innateness, teleology, signalling and the “major evolutionary transitions”. I'm currently also interested in, among other things, the evolution of normative judgement, the evolution of know-how and skill, the evolution of sentience, and the relation between sentience and welfare.
Jonathan Birch is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics and Political Science, specializing in the philosophy of the biological and behavioural sciences.
He joined the LSE in 2014. Before moving to London, he was a Junior Research Fellow at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2013, with a dissertation entitled Kin Selection: A Philosophical Analysis.
His recent work mainly concerns the evolution of social behaviour, and he has a particular interest in the conceptual foundations of inclusive fitness theory. He has also published articles on innateness, signalling, teleology, self-locating belief and the “major evolutionary transitions”. He is currently working on his first monograph, The Philosophy of Social Evolution.
In 2014, he was one of four UK philosophers honoured with a Philip Leverhulme Prize, which recognize “the achievement of outstanding researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising”.
2016. There Is No Such Thing as a Truly Selfless Act. A BBC Earth article for which I was interviewed.
2015. The Evolution of Cultures, Human and Microbial. LSE Philosophy Blog.
2015. Where Does Altruism Come From? LSE Philosophy Blog.
2015. Darwinian Conundrums. Interview with 3am Magazine.
2014. The “Cell State” Revived? Auxiliary Hypotheses Blog.
1. I’m the treasurer of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science. To see what we do and, more importantly, what we fund, visit us at thebsps.org.
2. I’m a Fellow of the Forum for European Philosophy. The Forum is an educational charity which runs public philosophy events in London, and I organize some of these events. To see what’s coming up soon, and to access our huge archive of free audio recordings of past events, visit the Forum’s website. See below for direct links to recordings of some of my recent events.
2017. The Mind of Whales, with Philip Hoare and Luke Rendell.
2017. The Social Lives of Microbes, with Kevin Foster, Sara Mitri and Maureen O'Malley.
2016. Hive Minds: Collective Intelligence in Humans and Other Animals, with Elli Leadbeater, Larissa Conradt and Christian List.
2016. Evolution and Moral Progress, with Allen Buchanan, Catherine Wilson and Jason McKenzie Alexander.
2015. Will Machines Rule the World?, with Huw Price, Mateja Jamnik, Kate Devlin and Mark Sprevak.
2015. Gender and the Brain, with Gina Rippon and John Dupré.
2014 (with James A. R. Marshall). Queller’s Separation Condition Explained and Defended. American Naturalist 184:531-540. 1-Line Summary
2013. On the ‘Simulation Argument’ and Selective Scepticism. Erkenntnis 78:95-107. 1-Line Summary
2009. Irretrievably Confused? Innateness in Explanatory Context. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 40:296-301. 1-Line Summary
2014. Has Grafen Formalized Darwin? (Commentary on A. Grafen, “The Formal Darwinism Project in Outline”). Biology and Philosophy 29:175-180.
2017. Review of Michael Tomasello: A Natural History of Human Morality. BJPS Review of Books 2017.
2017 (with Joeri Witteveen). Dividing the Pleistocene Pie (Review of Nicolas Baumard: The Origins of Fairness). BioScience 67:180-182.
2014. How Cooperation Became the Norm (Essay review of Cooperation and Its Evolution, ed. K. Sterelny et al.). Biology and Philosophy 29:433-444.
2013. Review of Evolution and Rationality, ed. S. Okasha and K. Binmore. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64:669-673.
2013. Explaining the Human Syndrome (Review of K. Sterelny: The Evolved Apprentice). Metascience 22:347-350.
2012. Social Revolution (Essay review of A. F. G. Bourke: Principles of Social Evolution). Biology and Philosophy 27:571-581.