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Research Interests

Dr. Paul Thompson holds appointments as Professor in the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and the Department of Philosophy. He has published extensively on evolutionary theory, population genetics, mathematical modelling in biology, theory structure in biology, philosophy of medicine, and ethics. He is the author of three books (The Moral Question (1982), The Structure of Biological Theories (1989) and Agro-Technology: A Philosophical Introduction (2011)) and edited Issues in Evolutionary Ethics (1995) He has held numerous consulting positions with governments and industry. Currently he is a member of the Research Integrity Committee and the Standing Committee on Ethics of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and was recently a member of The Expert Panel on Biodiversity sponsored by Council of Canadian Academies. He is Past President, and a director, of the Green Door Alliance Inc. (a registered charity, dedicated to preserving agricultural land). He has worked for many years on agricultural capacity and poverty relief in Kenya through Rural Outreach Program (http://www.ropkenya.org/).

Selected Publications

“Formalisations of Evolutionary Biology,” in Mohan Matthen and Christopher Stevens Handbook of the Philosophy of Science (vol. 2), 2006.

“The Role of Mathematical Models in the Formalisation of Self-Organising Systems,” in B. Fletz, M. Crommelinck, Ph. Goujon (eds.)  Self-Organisation and Emergence in the Life Sciences Dordrecht: Kluwer (Springer Science), 2005.

“The Revival of ‘Emergence’ in Biology: Autocatalysis, Self-Organisation  and Mathematical Necessity,” The Croatian Journal of Philosophy  3:9 (2004).

“The Evolutionary Biology of Evil,” The Monist 85 (2002) 238-258.


Tara Abraham, (Supervisor), ‘“Microscopic Cybernetics”: Mathematical Logic, Automata Theory, and the Formalization of Biological Phenomena, 1936-1970,” conferred November 2000.

Michael Cournoyea, (Supervisory committee), “Uncovering onto/epistemic virtues in medical explanation,” in progress.

Eugene Earnshaw-Whyte, (Supervisory committee), “Modelling Evolution,” conferred November 2012.

Theodore Everson, (Supervisor), “Genetics and Health in Context: The Political Economy of Public Health Genomics,” conferred June 2006.

Alexander Koo, (Supervisory committee), “Mathematical Explanation in Science: The Role of Mathematics and Realism,” in progress.

Patricia Liu, (Supervisory committee), “Creating Controversy: Science Writers, Corporate Funders, and Non-expert Scientists in the Debate over Prions, 1982-1997,” conferred November 2011.

Joseph Millum, (Supervisor), “The Adaptation of Morality,” conferred June 2006.

Robin Nunn, (Supervisor), “How Do We Know What is the Best Medicine? From Laughter to the Limits of Biomedical Knowledge,” conferred November 2011.

Anna Stoklosa, (Supervisor), “The Concept of Evidence in Health Technology Assessments,” conferred March 2013.

Charissa Varma, (Supervisory committee), “Beyond Set Theory: The Relationship between Logic and Taxonomy from the Early 1930 to 1960,” conferred June 2013.

Scott Woodcock, (Supervisor), “The Genealogy of Moral Memes: A New Synthesis for Evolutionary Ethics,” conferred June 2001.


Contact Information

  • Personal Title: Professor
  • E-mail address: p.thompson@utoronto.ca