Sébastian Dutreuil

Postdoctoral Fellow
Postdoctoral Fellows are early career scholars who are ordinarily no more than five years past the granting of the doctorate and who are financed in part or in whole by the MPIWG. These scholars carry minor responsibilities (no more than 10% of their time) within their research unit.
Department II
January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017

Sébastian Dutreuil was trained in the Earth Sciences (MS at the École Normale Supérieure, Paris) before moving to philosophy for an MA and PhD (2016) at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. His thesis was dedicated to the Gaia hypothesis, proposed by Lovelock and Margulis in the 1970s. It provided a historical analysis of Gaia’s elaboration in the 1960s and 1970s, and of its rich reception in various disciplines of the Earth and life sciences (climatology, biogeochemistry, evolutionary biology, ecology), showing that, contrary to the widespread view according to which Gaia is a pseudoscientific hypothesis, Gaia has had a very strong influence on the contemporary sciences of the Earth and the environment. He also analyzed how Gaia has been used has a framework to derive environmental and political prescriptions, in particular by Lovelock.

Sébastian has published articles, chapters and a collective book, Modéliser & simuler (edited with F. Varenne, M. Silberstein, and P. Huneman) on the history and philosophy of models and simulations, the history and epistemology of the Gaia hypothesis, and Gaia’s reception in the environmental movements and the environmental humanities. He has taught philosophy and history of science at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and Aix-Marseille University. His current work includes a book from his thesis and a research project on the history of Earth system science.


Max Planck Institute for the History of Science 
Boltzmannstraße 22 
14195 Berlin