Philosophy of biology, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France

Fellowship : October 2014 to June 2015 October 2015 to March 2016

Discipline(s) : Biology, Philosophy

Area(s) of expertise : Legal epistemology

Pays : France, Italy

Research project: “The role of teleology in the biological knowledge”

During her fellowship at IAS-Nantes, Nicole PERRET works on a project that focuses on the role of teleology in biology. In the contemporary debate philosophers of biology generally emphasizes the necessity to neutralize this aspect of the biological explanation. Accordingly, they attempt to find some theoretical instruments that allow the assimilation of teleological explanation to efficient causation. The proposed project takes a constructivist approach in the Kantian sense to addresses the problem of teleology. Moreover, the project will focus on the concept that causality in general is a principle of intelligibility and, therefore, also efficient causality has the same role in physics. In this sense, instead of bringing into question the teleological aspect of biological explanation, the project will explore the role of the teleological judgment in the process of biological objectivation. More precisely, taking inspiration from the philosopher Ernst Cassirer on morphology, this project proposes to understand teleology as a formal condition of the biological notions of organization and system.


Nicole PERRET is a postdoctoral fellow of the Centre Cavaillès at Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS, Paris) since September 2013.

She obtained her Master in philosophy at the Università degli Studi di Milano (Italy) in 2009 and her Phd at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in 2013. Her research domain is the philosophy of biology. More precisely she works on theory of organisms in the perspective of Kant and Cassirer, and on the problem of causality in biological knowledge.

She coordinates the research group on the theory of organisms of the Pascal Chair at ENS.

Major publications

PERRET, Nicole. A Symmetrical Approach to Causality in Biology. Philosophia Scientiæ, 2012, 16(3), p177-195.

PERRET, Nicole et LONGO, G. Anticipation, protension et inertie biologique. In DEBRU C. Anticipation : biologie, physiologie. Paris: Odile Jacob (à paraître)