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Dan Durso

Profile picture for Dan Durso

Contact Information

400E Gregory Hall
810 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801
Graduate Student

Research Interests

  • Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy of Biology
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Philosophy of Neuroscience
  • Metaphysics of Science
  • Neuroaesthetics

Research Description

A central focus of my research is in developing a mechanistic framework for explaining various forms of evolution.  This includes developing a mechanistic defense of multi-level selection, which claims that natural selection acts upon fitness-enhancing mechanisms at various levels.  I argue that this perspective can provide enhanced explanations of not only group behavior, but it can also provide a more empirically informed account of cultural evolution.  Additionally, I am interested in exploring whether many of the paradoxical phenotypes that seem to evade an explanation that is compatible with natural selection are in fact the result of hacked evolutionary mechanisms.  With respect to behavior, I am particularly interested in the vulnerability of neural reward circuitry to manipulation.  I consider some versions of intersexual selection as possible examples.

Outside of the philosophy of biology, my research considers a variety of issues within the metaphysics of science.  For example, what do determinism and reductionism look like from a mechanistic perspective, and do they have the same forceful impact on certain philosophical issues?  Additionally, I explore the relationship between the laws of nature and mechanisms, in particular, whether biological mechanisms emerge in spite of certain laws of nature.

Neuroaesthetics is a recent area of interest.  Future research will include the study of the default mode network, a large-scale brain network, and its role in creating the experience of awe when one views either a natural landscape or particularly evocative works of art. 


  • BA Philosophy, Brooklyn College (2019)
  • MFA Fine Arts, Parsons School of Design (2005)
  • BFA Fine Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University (1999)


Courses Taught

  • PHIL 100 Introduction to Philosophy ACP (Fall '20, Spring '21, Spring '23)
  • PHIL 101 Introduction to Philosophy (Fall '21, Spring '24)
  • PHIL 102 Logic & Reasoning (Fall '22)
  • PHIL 103 Logic & Reasoning (online) (Fall '23)
  • PHIL 223 Minds & Machines (Spring '22)
  • PHIL 250 (Fall '24)