Denis Walsh

V 312, Victoria College, 91 Charles St. W., University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7



Department of Philosophy

Fields of Study


I am a philosopher of biology in the Department of Philosophy, Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. My main research interests revolve around the interpretation of evolutionary theory, and the nature of scientific explanation. Perhaps uniquely among the natural sciences, biology deploys causal, statistical and teleological explanations. My work explores the nature of these explanations and the relation between them. I further investigate the nature of living things, and their place in evolutionary biology. I spent the academic year (2018-2019) as a fellow at the Institut d’ Études Avancées, in Paris. My research project there was entitled ‘Agency in the Natural World’. It now constitutes my principal line of research. I am currently co-PI on a collaborative project with evolutionary biologists entitled Agency in Living Systems, and a member of the Leadership Team of the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society at the University of Toronto.

Selected Publications

  • Walsh, D.M. (forthcoming) Being human, being Homo sapiens. In Hübner, K. (ed) Concepts: Human Nature. Oxford University Press.
  • Walsh, D.M. (forthcoming) Aristotle and Contemporary Biology. In Connell, Sophia (ed) The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle’s Biology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Walsh, D.M. and K. Wiebe (forthcoming) The being of living beings: Hylomorphism versus Foundational Materialism. In Meincke, Anne-Sophie  and John Dupré (eds). Biological Identity. London: Routledge
  • Walsh, D.M. (2020) Environment as Abstraction. Biological Theory. Vol 15
  • Walsh, D.M. (2020) Variationalism and Individualism: Beyond the Modern Synthesis. Philosophy, Theology, and the Sciences. Vol 7
  • Walsh, D.M. (2020) Action, Program, Metaphor. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews Vol 43
  • Walsh, D.M. (2020) Teleology and Evo-Devo In: Love, A. and Nuño de la Rosa, L (eds) The Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Developmental Biology. Springer
  • Walsh, D.M. (2019) The Paradox of Population Thinking In: Uller, T. and K. Laland (eds) Cause and Process in Biology. Cambridge, Ma.: MIT Press
  • Walsh, D.M. (2018) Objectcy and Agency: Toward A Methodological Vitalism. In Nicholson, D. and J. Dupré (eds) Everything Flows: Towards a process biology. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Walsh, D.M. A, Ariew, M. Matthen (2017) Four Pillars of Statisticalism. Philosophy, Theory and Practice in Biology (New series) 1:1-17
  • Walsh, D.M. (2017) Chance caught on the wing: metaphysical commitment or methodological artifact? In Huneman, P and D. Walsh (eds) Challenging the Synthesis: Adaptation, Development, Inheritance Oxford University Press. pp. 239- 261
  • Walsh, D.M. and Philippe Huneman (2017) Challenging the Synthesis: Introduction. In Huneman, P. and D. Walsh (eds) Challenging the Synthesis: Adaptation, Development, Inheritance. Oxford University Press. pp. 1-36
  • Walsh, D.M. (2016) Challenges to Evolutionary Theory. In Humphreys, p. (ed). Oxford Handbook for Philosophy of Science. Oxford: Oxford Univesity Press
  • Walsh, D.M. (2015) “Variance, Invariance and Statistical Explanation,” Erkenntnis DOI: 10.1007/S10670-014-9680-3
  • Walsh, D.M. (2014) Descriptions and Models: Some responses to Abrams Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science and the Biomedical Sciences 44: 302-308
  • Walsh, D.M. (2014) “The Negotiated Organism: Inheritance, Development and the Method of Difference” Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 112: 295-30
  • Walsh, D.M. (2014) Introduction In. Thompson, R. Paul and Denis M. Walsh (eds.) Evolutionary Biology: Conceptual, Ethical and Religious Issues. Cambridge University Press. 243 pp.
  • Walsh, D.M. (2014) Function and Teleology In. Thompson, R. Paul and Denis M. Walsh (eds.) Evolutionary Biology: Conceptual, Ethical and Religious Issues. Cambridge University Press. pp.193-216