Daniel J Nicholson

Daniel J Nicholson

Daniel J Nicholson

Assistant Professor

History and Philosophy of Biology, General Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Nature

Daniel J. Nicholson is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at George Mason University. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Exeter, an M.A. in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Leeds, and an M.Biol. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Bath. Before coming to Mason, he held appointments at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research near Vienna, the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences in Exeter, and the Cohn Institute for History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas in Tel Aviv. In recent years, he has been a visiting fellow at the University of Sydney, a Mercator Fellow at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, and a Sydney Brenner Research Fellow at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Center for Humanities and History of Modern Biology.

Dr. Nicholson's research is characterized by a strongly interdisciplinary engagement with the conceptual foundations of the life sciences—an engagement that combines and integrates historical, philosophical, and theoretical approaches. A central organizing theme of his research is the ontology of living systems, particularly the ways in which organisms differ from other complex organized systems like machines, and on the epistemic implications of these differences. His work can be regarded as a concerted attempt to revive an organism-centred philosophy of biology capable of overcoming the mechanicist and reductionist limitations of late 20th C. biology. Dr. Nicholson also has longstanding interests in general debates in the philosophy of science as well as in the historical interplay between philosophical and scientific conceptions of nature.

Dr. Nicholson is currently on research leave. During the Fall 2023 semester he will be a visiting fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. He will resume his teaching at Mason in Spring 2024.

Courses Taught

PHIL100: Introduction to Philosophy

PHIL271: How Science Works

PHIL371: Philosophy of the Natural Sciences

PHIL600: Proseminar in Philosophy (Graduate)

PHIL694: Special Topics in Contemporary Philosophy (Graduate)


Ph.D., Philosophy, University of Exeter

M.A., History and Philosophy of Science, University of Leeds

M.Biol., Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Bath