KLI Colloquia are informal, public talks that are followed by extensive dissussions. Speakers are KLI fellows or visiting researchers who are interested in presenting their work to an interdisciplinary audience and discussing it in a wider research context. We offer three types of talks:

1. Current Research Talks. KLI fellows or visiting researchers present and discuss their most recent research with the KLI fellows and the Vienna scientific community.

2. Future Research Talks. Visiting researchers present and discuss future projects and ideas togehter with the KLI fellows and the Vienna scientific community.

3. Professional Developmental Talks. Experts about research grants and applications at the Austrian and European levels present career opportunities and strategies to late-PhD and post-doctoral researchers.

  • The presentation language is English.
  • If you are interested in presenting your current or future work at the KLI, please contact the Scientific Director or the Executive Manager.

Event Details

Daniel S. Brooks
KLI Colloquia
A New Look at Levels of Organization
Daniel S. BROOKS (KLI)
2016-06-07 16:30 - 2016-06-07 16:30
Organized by KLI

Topic description:
Despite its pervasiveness, the concept of ‘levels of organization’ has received little attention in its own right. In this presentation I will argue that, contrary to recent claims of its uselessness, the 'levels' concept can be revealed as a uniquely effective and flexible conceptual tool tailored to perform a wide host of scientific tasks. This approach posits a fragmentary concept that balances a striking variation in conceptual content between instances of usage with a remarkably conserved and sufficiently unifying significance attributed to it across these instances. Key to this 'fragmentary account' will be a reconstruction of 'levels’ that situates the concept within an interest-relative matrix of active usage within scientific practice. To this end I posit here two important components that comprise my fragmentary account: the term’s content fragments, which replace meaning and reference as carriers of the term's conceptual content, and the epistemic goal (sensu Brigandt 2010) motivating the term's usage, which delegates tasks whose execution fill these fragments in a given instance. Together, these show the concept of levels to be minimally but sufficiently coherent and unified. This heuristic, usage-based treatment of levels does not diminish the concept's general importance to science, but rather allows for its use in, and usefulness for, scientific practice to be better contextualized to particular tasks encompassing varying breadths of activity.


Biographical note:
Daniel holds Bachelor´s degrees in Philosophy and German Studies from the University of Cincinnati and a Master´s degree in Philosophy from Bielefeld University. In 2014 he completed his Ph.D. studies in Bielefeld under his dissertation project “The Concept of Levels of Organization in Biology”. Before his postdoctoral fellowship at the KLI, Daniel taught graduate and undergraduate seminars in current topics in the philosophy of science and epistemology at the University of Münster.