Max Martinez

Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana
Unidad Cuajimalpa
Mexico City

Ph.D in Philosophy, National University of Colombia (2008)                   
Spanish version
B.A. in Philosophy,  National University of Colombia (2003)                   updated 02.2011


I obtained my degree in philosophy with a thesis entitled A Naturalistic Proposal of Ethics. In this work I defend, through an analysis of moral language (principally the concept of 'goodness'), the possibility of a naturalistic approach to ethics (first chapter). Using this as my foundation, I later explore (second and third chapters) the link between a funtionalistic/contractualistic morality, the game theory, and the evolutionary theory.

Advisor: Prof. Dr. Alejandro Rosas (National University of Colombia and Konrad Lorenz Institute-Austria)

In my PhD thesis, entitled Natural Selection and Developmental Constraints: Taking Downward Causation Seriously (which is in the field of EvoDevo), I put forward a causal model to integrate evolution and development. To achieve this goal, I propose a reformulation of the concept of Natural Selection, trying to capture its causal role in the generation of organismal form. I make a similar point with a reformulation of the concept of Developmental Constraint. Both reformulations are founded in a factual analysis and use the notion of Downward Causation as a touchstone. I explain in which sense those evolutionary forces (natural selection and constraints) are positive, and how they have causal influence on the generation of organismal form. This thesis is part of my long-term research project, whose aim is to promote an integration between natural selection, constraints and self-organization, using as fundamental link the concept of Downward Causation. In my opinion, this concept captures (in a very important way) the positive causal role of natural selection and constraints in evolution of complexity.
Prof. Dr. Alejandro Rosas (National University of Colombia and Konrad Lorenz Institute-Austria).
Committee: Dr. Eugenio Andrade (Biology Department, National University of Colombia); Dr. Gustavo Caponi (Philosophy Department, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil); Dr. Favio González (Institute of Sciences, National University of Colombia).

Awarded : July 18th of 2008.  **Laureate Thesis**

Area of Specialization:
Philosophy of Biology and Philosophy of Science

Areas of Competence:
Moral Philosophy, Hobbesian Contractualism, Naturalization of the Mind (Evolutionary Psychology and Evolutionary Ethics), Philosophy of Language (The problem of reference).

Visiting researcher:

Fellowships and Grants: 

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship UNAM. Mexico (March 2010-January 2011).
  • DAAD Scholarship. (October 2009 to March 2010) Germany.
  • Housing Grant. HPS, Florida State University (April to July 2009). USA.
  • Carolina Foundation Fellowship. (Winter 2008). Spain.
  • Red de Macrouniversidades Fellowship (Association of Latinamerican Macro-Universities) - Banco Santander. (Aug 2005 to Jul 2006). Mexico.
  • DGEP Scholarship. UNAM (Aug to Dec de 2005). Mexico.
  • Académicos en Formación. (2003 to 2008). Scholarship for PhD studies. National University of Colombia.
    Travel grants:
  • Cavanilles Institute for Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology. University of Valencia, Spain (Sep-Oct 2010).
  • Philosophy Department, University of Geneva. Oct 2010.
  • University of Barcelona/LOGOS (February of 2010).
  • Human Evolution and Cognition Research Group. University of Balearic Islands, Spain (February 2010).
  • Institute of Philosophical Investigations, UNAM, Mexico (August 2009).
  • Konrad Lorenz Institute. Altenberg, Austria (January-February 2009).
  • Cavanilles Institute for Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology. University of Valencia, Spain (Feb 2009).
  • Philosophy Department, Universidad Estadual da Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). Brazil (August 2007).
  • Laureate PhD Thesis. July of 2008. National University of Colombia.

Publications and writings (PDFs are available):

Papers in refereed journals:

  • Natural Selection and Multilevel Causation. Philosophy & Theory in Biology, vol. 3. With Andres Moya. 2011
  • Los constreñimientos del desarrollo y la integración EvoDevo [Constraints and EvoDevo], in Acta Biologica Colombiana. vol 14 (4s). 2009. PDF to download
  • 'Selección natural, creatividad y causalidad' [Natural selection, creativity, and causality], in Teorema.  Co-author: Andrés Moya. May 2009. PDF
  • ‘Hobbes y la moral egoísta en el estado de naturaleza’ [Hobbes and Selfish Morality in the State of Nature], in Ideas y Valores, April 2008. PDF
  • ‘Los enigmas de Russell, la solución de Frege y la Teoría Causal de la Referencia’ [Russel's puzzles, Frege's solution, and the Causal Theory of Reference], in Discusiones Filosóficas, 2007. PDF
  • ‘La evolución del altruísmo’ [The Evolution of Altruism], in Revista Colombiana de Filosofía de la Ciencia, vol.4, Nos. 8 y 9, 2003. PDF
  • ‘La falacia naturalista y el argumento de la pregunta abierta’ [The Naturalistic Fallacy and the Open Question Argument], in Universitas Philosophica, 2003. PDF
  • ‘Ciencia normal y pluralismo teórico’ [Normal Science and Theoretical Pluralism], in Saga, 2002.

Chapters in Books:

  • EvoDevo, Complexity, and Multilevel Causation, to appear in: Darwin & Lamarck: Two Hundred Years of Evolutionism. Contreras & Ponce (Eds.). (2011-Forthcoming).
  • ‘Populational Thinking and Typological Thinking’, to appear in: Filosofía da Biología (ARTMED-Brazil). Paulo Abrantes (Ed.). Co-authored with Eugenio Andrade (2011-Forthcoming).
  • ‘La selección natural y su papel causal en la generación de la forma’ [Natural selection and its causal role in the generation of form], in Filosofía, Darwinismo y Evolución, A. Rosas (ed.) Universidad Nacional (2007). PDF
  • ‘G.E. Moore’, en Pensador@s del siglo XX. Edit. IMCED-Trillas, México (Forthcoming). Co-author: Héctor Acero F. 


  • Review of ‘Re-Engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings,’ of William C. Wimsatt. Crítica, Mexico. (April 2010). e-link.
  • ‘Comentario a la ‘Moral y sus sombras’ [Comment to 'Morals and its Shadows'] de Alejandro Rosas, en Ideas y Valores (Dic. 2006). e-link
  •  Review of  ‘El sesgo hereditario: ámbitos históricos del concepto de herencia biológica, de Carlos López Beltrán, en Ideas y Valores (marzo 2006). e-link
  • ‘¿Qué nos hace humanos?’ [Review of ‘Genes, Experience and What Make Us Humans’], de Matt Ridley, en Ideas y Valores (dic. 2005). e-link

Unpublished work:

  • Selección natural y Constreñimientos del desarrollo: Tomando en serio a la causalidad descendente [Natural selection and Developmental Constraints: Taking Downward Causation Seriously]. PhD Thesis (2008, unpublished). 135 pages. Book format.
  • Una propuesta naturalista de la ética [A Naturalistic Explanation of Ethics]. Graduate Thesis (2003, unpublished). 65 pages. Book format.

Translations (English to Spanish):

  • Is Evolution a social construction? (Michael Ruse) - ¿Es la evolución una construcción social? –with J. P. Bermúdez, en Saga, UNAL (June 2005). 
  • Altruism, a naturalistic darwinian perspective (Michael Ruse) - ‘Altruismo: una perspectiva naturalista darwiniana’ –with F. Melo, en Saga, UNAL (March 2005).
  • Darwin on Evolution of Morality (Soshichi Uchii, Kioto University) - ‘Darwin: sobre la evolución de la moralidad’, en Saga, UNAL (December 2003).

Work in progress:

    In English:

  • EvoDevo and Multilevel Causation.
  • Natural Selection and Developmental Constraints: A Comparative Integrative Analysis (paper in progress).
    In Spanish:
  • Constreñimientos históricos, dependencia de trayectoria y causación [Historical constraints, path dependence, and causation] (paper in progress Co-authors: Eugenio Andrade).
    Current Research Projects (Spanish and English):
  • 'Natural selection, Developmental Constraints, and Complex Systems: Taking Multilevel Causation Seriously'. Original Research Project (3/4 parts finished).

Referee for:

  • The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
  • Diánoia
  • Theoria
  • Signos Filosóficos
  • Ideas y Valores
  • Universitas Humanistica

Teaching Experience:

I have taught several courses on philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, ethics, Hobbes and contractualism at the National University of Colombia, UNAM, University of Rosario, and UAM.


    Past talks:
  • Selección natural y causalidad multinivel. Seminario de Investigadores del Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas, UNAM, January 26th of 2011. Mexico City.
  • EvoDevo y Cognición. Cavanilles Institute for Biodiversity and Evolutionary Research.  October 8th 2010. Valencia, Spain.
  • Causation in Biology. Workshop Contemporary perspectives in Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science. October 2nd, 2010. University of Geneva. Switzerland.
  • Evolution, Systems, and Multilevel Causation. IX International Ontology Congress. 30th September 2010. San Sebastian, Spain.
  • Evo-Devo, Constraints, and Selection: a defense of multilevel approaches in the study of biological causation. January 20th 2010. Philosophy Department, University of Bielefeld, Germany.
  • Natural Selection, Creativity, and Causation. Discussion Group Biolosophy. December 15th 2009. Philosophy Department, University of Bielefeld, Germany.
  • Evolución, Desarrollo y Cognición [Evolution, Development, and Cognition] Darwinismo y Filosofía. August 25th and 26th. Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas. UNAM, Mexico City.
  • Selección natural, adaptación e innovación evolutiva (Natural Selection, Adaptation, and Innovation). Cátedra Mútis: Darwin 200 años. Marzo 21 de 2009. Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá
  • Constreñimientos positivos: un punto de encuentro entre Evolución y Desarrollo (Positive Constraints: a Link Between Evolution and Development). Centro de Estudios Filosóficos, Políticos y Sociales Vicente Lombardo Toledano. May 9th of 2008. Mexico City.
  • Constreñimientos históricos: tomando en serio a la causalidad descendente (Historical Constraints: Taking Downward Causation Seriously). Workshop 'Complexity, Causality and Evolution'. Co-Speakers: Diego Rasskin-Gutman, Álvaro Moreno, Miquel de Renzi. Cavanilles Institute for Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, University of Valencia. February14th of 2008. Valencia, Spain.
  • Hobbes y la moral en el estado de naturaleza (Hobbes and Morality in the State of Nature). In  “Hobbes: Ethics, Rights and State”,  Philosophy Department, National University of Colombia, November 13rd of 2007. Bogotá.
  • El argumento semántico de la pregunta abierta y la ontología de la bondad (The Open Question Semantic Argument and the Ontology of Goodness). “I Workshop on Philosophy of Language” IIFs (UNAM)/Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-I. June 30 of 2006. San Miguel Regla, Hidalgo, Mexico.
  • Explicación en biología: la selección natural como factor causal (Explanation in Biology: Natural Selection as a Causal Factor) In: “Explicación y método en las ciencias.” Philosophy Department, UNAL. Co-speaker: Dr. Ramón Fayad.  May 12th 2005. Bogota.
  • Selección natural positiva, negativa y el origen de las adaptaciones (Positive Natural Selection, Negative Natural Selection, and the Origins of Adaptations). In: “Teoría de la evolución.” Philosophy Department, UNAL: April 22nd 2005. Bogota.