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  1. The Organism as Reality or as Fiction: Buffon and Beyond.Boris Demarest & Charles T. Wolfe - 2016 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 39 (1):3.
    In this paper, we reflect on the connection between the notions of organism and organisation, with a specific interest in how this bears upon the issue of the reality of the organism. We do this by presenting the case of Buffon, who developed complex views about the relation between the notions of “organised” and “organic” matter. We argue that, contrary to what some interpreters have suggested, these notions are not orthogonal in his thought. Also, we argue that Buffon has a (...)
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  • Organization Needs Organization: Understanding Integrated Control in Living Organisms.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 93:96-106.
    Organization figures centrally in the understanding of biological systems advanced by both new mechanists and proponents of the autonomy framework. The new mechanists focus on how components of mechanisms are organized to produce a phenomenon and emphasize productive continuity between these components. The autonomy framework focuses on how the components of a biological system are organized in such a way that they contribute to the maintenance of the organisms that produce them. In this paper we analyze and compare these two (...)
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  • Is Defining Life Pointless? Operational Definitions at the Frontiers of Biology.Leonardo Bich & Sara Green - 2017 - Synthese:1-28.
    Despite numerous and increasing attempts to define what life is, there is no consensus on necessary and sufficient conditions for life. Accordingly, some scholars have questioned the value of definitions of life and encouraged scientists and philosophers alike to discard the project. As an alternative to this pessimistic conclusion, we argue that critically rethinking the nature and uses of definitions can provide new insights into the epistemic roles of definitions of life for different research practices. This paper examines the possible (...)
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  • Disciplinary Fields in the Life Sciences: Evolving Divides and Anchor Concepts.Alessandro Minelli - 2020 - Philosophies 5 (34):34-0.
    Recent and ongoing debates in biology and in the philosophy of biology reveal widespread dissatisfaction with the current definitions or circumscriptions, which are often vague or controversial, of key concepts such as the gene, individual, species, and homology, and even of whole disciplinary fields within the life sciences. To some extent, the long growing awareness of these conceptual issues and the contrasting views defended in their regard can be construed as a symptom of the need to revisit traditional unchallenged partitions (...)
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  • The Myth of Frederic Clements’s Mutualistic Organicism, Or: On the Necessity to Distinguish Different Concepts of Organicism.Thomas Kirchhoff - 2020 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 42 (2):1-27.
    In the theory and history of ecology, Frederic Clements’s theory of plant communities is usually presented as the historical prototype and a paradigmatic example of synecological organicism, characterised by the assumption that ecological communities are functionally integrated units of mutually dependent species. In this paper, I will object to this standard interpretation of Clements’s theory. Undoubtedly, Clements compares plant communities with organisms and calls them “complex organisms” and “superorganisms”. Further, he can indeed be regarded as a proponent of ecological organicism—provided (...)
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