The Biology of Behaviour: a Special Issue of Synthese

Guest Editors: Christophe Malaterre (Université du Québec à Montréal)
and Eric Muszynski (Université du Québec à Montréal)

Synthese invites submissions for a special issue on biological explanations of behaviour with an emphasis on questions pertaining to explanatory pluralism and integration. Contributions from philosophers, biologists, and other relevant disciplines are encouraged (and not limited to presenters at the 10-11 May workshop in Montreal).

Biologists explain the behaviour of organisms in a wide variety of ways, including by describing the underlying mechanisms, looking at adaptive value and evolutionary history, and many others. What does a purported plurality of explanatory types imply regarding the competition, collaboration or integration of the multiple explanations?  These explanations furthermore are applied to many different types of entities, and at all levels, from single-celled organisms to plants, invertebrates, mammals, humans, groups, populations, and even ecosystems. Are all these uses coherent? Do the explanations apply in the same ways at all levels of organisation or is the widespread use of the term ‘behaviour’ a red herring? Underlying such inquiries are fundamental epistemological issues, such as the identification of better or worse explanations of behaviour in the biological sciences, whether various sub-disciplines use the same or different criteria for evaluating those explanations, and whether such explanations pave the way towards a more unified understanding of behaviour or, on the contrary, corroborate pluralistic stances.

Appropriate topics for submission include, among others:

  • How various explanations of behaviour compete, collaborate, integrate or remain independent
  • Whether or not biological explanations of behaviour are an example of explanatory pluralism
  • Comparing and contrasting different explanations of behaviour
  • How behaviour is defined, and the consequences thereof
  • Explanations of behaviour which target specific levels of organisation or many, and the interactions among levels

Submitted papers must present original research that has not been published and is not currently under review with any other journal. All submissions will be peer reviewed according to Synthese’s rules. All papers should be submitted specifically to the special issue “The Biology of Behaviour: Explanatory Pluralism across the Life Sciences” (“BioBehaviour”) via the online Editorial Manager (
Instructions for authors are available here:

For further information, please contact the guest editors:

The deadline for submissions is June 10, 2018.

Call for papers

The workshop is now over. Thank you to all the participants and attendees!
Note that the call for papers remains open to everyone.


Deadline: July 10, 2018

Posted: May 21, 2018