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  1. The Evolution of Ecosystem Phenotypes.Sébastien Ibanez - 2020 - Biological Theory 15 (2):91-106.
    Evolution by natural selection has been extended to several supraorganismic levels, but whether it can apply to ecosystems remains controversial on two main counts. First, local ecosystems are loosely individuated, so that it is unclear how they manifest heredity and fitness. Second, even if they did, the meta-ecosystem formed by this population of local ecosystems will also suffer from a very low degree of cohesion, which will jeopardize any ENS. We suggest a way to overcome both issues, focusing on ecosystem (...)
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  • Conjoined twinning & biological individuation.Alexandria Boyle - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (8):2395-2415.
    In dicephalus conjoined twinning, it appears that two heads share a body; in cephalopagus, it appears that two bodies share a head. How many human animals are present in these cases? One answer is that there are two in both cases—conjoined twins are precisely that, conjoined twins. Another is that the number of humans corresponds to the number of bodies—so there is one in dicephalus and two in cephalopagus. I show that both of these answers are incorrect. Prominent accounts of (...)
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  • Kin Selection, Group Selection, and the Varieties of Population Structure.Jonathan Birch - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (1):259-286.
    Various results show the ‘formal equivalence’ of kin and group selectionist methodologies, but this does not preclude there being a real and useful distinction between kin and group selection processes. I distinguish individual- and population-centred approaches to drawing such a distinction, and I proceed to develop the latter. On the account I advance, the differences between kin and group selection are differences of degree in the structural properties of populations. A spatial metaphor provides a useful framework for thinking about these (...)
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  • The stability of traits conception of the hologenome: An evolutionary account of holobiont individuality.Javier Suárez - 2020 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 42 (1):1-27.
    Bourrat and Griffiths :33, 2018) have recently argued that most of the evidence presented by holobiont defenders to support the thesis that holobionts are evolutionary individuals is not to the point and is not even adequate to discriminate multispecies evolutionary individuals from other multispecies assemblages that would not be considered evolutionary individuals by most holobiont defenders. They further argue that an adequate criterion to distinguish the two categories is fitness alignment, presenting the notion of fitness boundedness as a criterion that (...)
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  • What is a Hologenomic Adaptation? Emergent Individuality and Inter-Identity in Multispecies Systems.Javier Suárez & Vanessa Triviño - 2020 - Frontiers in Psychology 187 (11).
    Contemporary biological research has suggested that some host–microbiome multispecies systems (referred to as “holobionts”) can in certain circumstances evolve as unique biological individual, thus being a unit of selection in evolution. If this is so, then it is arguably the case that some biological adaptations have evolved at the level of the multispecies system, what we call hologenomic adaptations. However, no research has yet been devoted to investigating their nature, or how these adaptations can be distinguished from adaptations at the (...)
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  • Kinds of Biological Individuals: Sortals, Projectibility, and Selection.DiFrisco James - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):845-875.
    Individuality is an important concept in biology, yet there are many non-equivalent criteria of individuality expressed in different kinds of biological individuals. This article evaluates these different kinds in terms of their capacity to support explanatory generalizations over the systems they individuate. Viewing the problem of individuality from this perspective promotes a splitting strategy in which different kinds make different epistemic trade-offs that suit them for different explanatory roles. I argue that evolutionary individuals, interpreted as forming a functional kind, face (...)
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  • Exploding Individuals: Engaging Indigenous Logic and Decolonizing Science.Rebekah Sinclair - 2020 - Hypatia 35 (1):58-74.
    Despite emerging attention to Indigenous philosophies both within and outside of feminism, Indigenous logics remain relatively underexplored and underappreciated. By amplifying the voices of recent Indigenous philosophies and literatures, I seek to demonstrate that Indigenous logic is a crucial aspect of Indigenous resurgence as well as political and ethical resistance. Indigenous philosophies provide alternatives to the colonial, masculinist tendencies of classical logic in the form of paraconsistent—many-valued—logics. Specifically, when Indigenous logics embrace the possibility of true contradictions, they highlight aspects of (...)
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  • Multispecies individuals.Pierrick Bourrat & Paul E. Griffiths - 2018 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40 (2):33.
    We assess the arguments for recognising functionally integrated multispecies consortia as genuine biological individuals, including cases of so-called ‘holobionts’. We provide two examples in which the same core biochemical processes that sustain life are distributed across a consortium of individuals of different species. Although the same chemistry features in both examples, proponents of the holobiont as unit of evolution would recognize one of the two cases as a multispecies individual whilst they would consider the other as a compelling case of (...)
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  • Individuating Population Lineages: A New Genealogical Criterion.Beckett Sterner - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (5):683-703.
    Contemporary biology has inherited two key assumptions from the Modern Synthesis about the nature of population lineages: sexual reproduction is the exemplar for how individuals in population lineages inherit traits from their parents, and random mating is the exemplar for reproductive interaction. While these assumptions have been extremely fruitful for a number of fields, such as population genetics and phylogenetics, they are increasingly unviable for studying the full diversity and evolution of life. I introduce the “mixture” account of population lineages (...)
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  • Pathways to Pluralism About Biological Individuality.Beckett Sterner - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (5):609-628.
    What are the prospects for a monistic view of biological individuality given the multiple epistemic roles the concept must satisfy? In this paper, I examine the epistemic adequacy of two recent accounts based on the capacity to undergo natural selection. One is from Ellen Clarke, and the other is by Peter Godfrey-Smith. Clarke’s position reflects a strong monism, in that she aims to characterize individuality in purely functional terms and refrains from privileging any specific material properties as important in their (...)
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  • Cognition in Practice: Conceptual Development and Disagreement in Cognitive Science.Mikio Akagi - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh
    Cognitive science has been beset for thirty years by foundational disputes about the nature and extension of cognition—e.g. whether cognition is necessarily representational, whether cognitive processes extend outside the brain or body, and whether plants or microbes have them. Whereas previous philosophical work aimed to settle these disputes, I aim to understand what conception of cognition scientists could share given that they disagree so fundamentally. To this end, I develop a number of variations on traditional conceptual explication, and defend a (...)
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  • Animalism and the Persistence of Human Organisms.John Dupré - 2014 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (S1):6-23.
    Humans are a kind of animal, and it is a natural and sensible idea that the way to understand what it is for a human person to persist over time is to reflect on what it is for an animal to persist. This paper accepts this strategy. However, especially in the light of a range of recent biological findings, the persistence of animals turns out to be much more problematic than is generally supposed. The main philosophical premise of the paper (...)
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  • A Biologically Informed Hylomorphism.Christopher J. Austin - 2017 - In William M. R. Simpson, Robert C. Koons & Nicholas J. Teh (eds.), Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Contemporary Science. Routledge. pp. 185-210.
    Although contemporary metaphysics has recently undergone a neo-Aristotelian revival wherein dispositions, or capacities are now commonplace in empirically grounded ontologies, being routinely utilised in theories of causality and modality, a central Aristotelian concept has yet to be given serious attention – the doctrine of hylomorphism. The reason for this is clear: while the Aristotelian ontological distinction between actuality and potentiality has proven to be a fruitful conceptual framework with which to model the operation of the natural world, the distinction between (...)
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  • Organisms or Biological Individuals? Combining Physiological and Evolutionary Individuality.Thomas Pradeu - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (6):797-817.
    The definition of biological individuality is one of the most discussed topics in philosophy of biology, but current debate has focused almost exclusively on evolution-based accounts. Moreover, several participants in this debate consider the notions of a biological individual and an organism as equivalent. In this paper, I show that the debates would be considerably enriched and clarified if philosophers took into account two elements. First, physiological fields are crucial for the understanding of biological individuality. Second, the category of biological (...)
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  • Multi-Level Selection and the Explanatory Value of Mathematical Decompositions.Christopher Clarke - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (4):1025-1055.
    Do multi-level selection explanations of the evolution of social traits deepen the understanding provided by single-level explanations? Central to the former is a mathematical theorem, the multi-level Price decomposition. I build a framework through which to understand the explanatory role of such non-empirical decompositions in scientific practice. Applying this general framework to the present case places two tasks on the agenda. The first task is to distinguish the various ways of suppressing within-collective variation in fitness, and moreover to evaluate their (...)
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  • The Many Faces of Biological Individuality.Thomas Pradeu - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (6):761-773.
    Biological individuality is a major topic of discussion in biology and philosophy of biology. Recently, several objections have been raised against traditional accounts of biological individuality, including the objections of monism, theory-centrism, ahistoricity, disciplinary isolationism, and the multiplication of conceptual uncertainties. In this introduction, I will examine the current philosophical landscape about biological individuality, and show how the contributions gathered in this special issue address these five objections. Overall, the aim of this issue is to offer a more diverse, unifying, (...)
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  • Condiciones de identidad para organismos.José Tomás Alvarado & Cristóbal Unwin - 2017 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 21 (1):13-40.
    In this work it is proposed that the conditions of identity for biological organisms are given by the following principle: for all organisms x and y, x = y if and only if x has been caused by the self-preserving activity of y. This principle determines both the inter-temporal identity of organisms and the identity of organism in different possible worlds. It unifies what can be supposed about conditions of identity coming from —at least— three different conceptions about the nature (...)
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  • The Relation Between Kin and Multilevel Selection: An Approach Using Causal Graphs.Samir Okasha - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):435-470.
    Kin selection and multilevel selection are alternative approaches for studying the evolution of social behaviour, the relation between which has long been a source of controversy. Many recent theorists regard the two approaches as ultimately equivalent, on the grounds that gene frequency change can be correctly expressed using either. However, this shows only that the two are formally equivalent, not that they offer equally good causal representations of the evolutionary process. This article articulates the notion of an ‘adequate causal representation’ (...)
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  • Ask Not "What is an Individual?".C. Kenneth Waters - forthcoming - In O. Bueno, M. B. Fagan & R. Chen (eds.), Individuation Across Experimental and Theoretical Sciences. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press.
    Philosophers of biology typically pose questions about individuation by asking “what is an individual?” For example, we ask, “what is an individual species”, “what is an individual organism”, and “what is an individual gene?” In the first part of this chapter, I present my account of the gene concept and how it is used in investigative practices in order to motivate a more pragmatic approach. Instead of asking “what is a gene?”, I ask: “how do biologists individuate genes?”, “for what (...)
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  • Evolution of Individuality: A Case Study in the Volvocine Green Algae.Erik R. Hanschen, Dinah R. Davison, Zachariah I. Grochau-Wright & Richard E. Michod - 2017 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 9 (3).
    All disciplines must define their basic units and core processes. In evolutionary biology, the core process is natural selection and the basic unit of selection and adaptation is the individual. To operationalize the theory of natural selection we must count individuals, as they are the bearers of fitness. While canonical individuals have often been taken to be multicellular organisms, the hierarchy of life shows that new kinds of individuals have evolved. A variety of criteria have been used to define biological (...)
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  • Forces, Friction and Fractionation: Denis Walsh’s Organisms, Agency, and Evolution: 294 Pp, Hardcover, ISBN: 1107122104. [REVIEW]Andrew Buskell & Adrian Currie - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (6):1341-1353.
    In Denis Walsh’s Organisms, Agency, and Evolution, he argues that new developments in the science of biology motivate a radical change to our metaphysical picture of life: what he calls ‘Situated Darwinism’. The central claim is that we should take the biological world to be at base about organisms, and organisms in a fundamentally teleological sense. We critically examine Walsh’s arguments and suggest further developments.
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  • Biological Individuals.Robert A. Wilson & Matthew J. Barker - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 1 (1).
    The impressive variation amongst biological individuals generates many complexities in addressing the simple-sounding question what is a biological individual? A distinction between evolutionary and physiological individuals is useful in thinking about biological individuals, as is attention to the kinds of groups, such as superorganisms and species, that have sometimes been thought of as biological individuals. More fully understanding the conceptual space that biological individuals occupy also involves considering a range of other concepts, such as life, reproduction, and agency. There has (...)
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  • Osobnik, organizm i życie.Krzysztof Chodasewicz - 2019 - Filozofia i Nauka 7 (2):29-44.
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  • On Radical Solutions in the Philosophy of Biology: What Does “Individuals Thinking” Actually Solve?Thomas A. C. Reydon - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    The philosophy of biology is witnessing an increasing enthusiasm for what can be called “individuals thinking”. Individuals thinking is a perspective on the metaphysics of biological entities according to which conceiving of them as individuals rather than kinds enables us to expose ongoing metaphysical debates as focusing on the wrong question, and to achieve better accounts of the metaphysics of biological entities. In this paper, I examine two cases of individuals thinking, the claim that species are individuals and the claim (...)
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  • Functions and Health at the Interface of Biology and Technology.Elselijn Kingma - forthcoming - Noûs.
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  • Agriculture Increases Individual Fitness.Karen Kovaka, Carlos Santana, Raj Patel, Erol Akçay & Michael Weisberg - 2016 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 39.
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  • How Research on Microbiomes is Changing Biology: A Discussion on the Concept of the Organism.Adrian Stencel & Agnieszka M. Proszewska - 2018 - Foundations of Science 23 (4):603-620.
    Multicellular organisms contain numerous symbiotic microorganisms, collectively called microbiomes. Recently, microbiomic research has shown that these microorganisms are responsible for the proper functioning of many of the systems of multicellular organisms. This has inclined some scholars to argue that it is about time to reconceptualise the organism and to develop a concept that would place the greatest emphasis on the vital role of microorganisms in the life of plants and animals. We believe that, unfortunately, there is a problem with this (...)
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  • Token Physicalism and Functional Individuation.James DiFrisco - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (3):309-329.
    Token physicalism is often viewed as a modest and unproblematic physicalist commitment, as contrasted with type physicalism. This paper argues that the prevalence of functional individuation in biology creates serious problems for token physicalism, because the latter requires that biological entities can be individuated physically and without reference to biological functioning. After characterizing the main philosophical roles for token physicalism, I describe the distinctive uses of functional individuation in models of biological processes. I then introduce some requirements on token identity (...)
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  • Starting Small: Using Little Microbes to Tackle Big Philosophical Problems.Makmiller Pedroso - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 53:126-128.
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  • Levels of Selection in Biofilms: Multispecies Biofilms Are Not Evolutionary Individuals.Ellen Clarke - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (2):191-212.
    Microbes are generally thought of as unicellular organisms, but we know that many microbes live as parts of biofilms—complex, surface-attached microbial communities numbering millions of cells. Some authors have recently argued in favour of reconceiving biofilms as biological entities in their own right. In particular, some have claimed that multispecies biofilms are evolutionary individuals : 10126–10132 2015). Against this view, I defend the conservative consensus that selection acts primarily upon microbial cells.
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  • Multi-Level Semiosis: A Paradigm of Emergent Innovation.Luis Emilio Bruni & Franco Giorgi - 2016 - Biosemiotics 9 (3):307-318.
    In this introductory article to the special issue on Multi-level semiosis we attempt to stage the background for qualifying the notion of “multi-levelness” when considering communication processes and semiosis in all life forms, i.e. from the cellular to the organismic level. While structures are organized hierarchically, communication processes require a kind of processual organization that may be better described as being heterarchical. Theoretically, the challenge arises in the temporal domain, that is, in the developmental and evolutionary dimension of dynamic semiotic (...)
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