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  1. 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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  • Models of Organic Organization in Montpellier Vitalism.Charles T. Wolfe - 2017 - Early Science and Medicine 22 (2-3):229-252.
    The species of vitalism discussed here is a malleable construct, often with a poisonous reputation (but one which I want to rehabilitate), hovering in between the realms of the philosophy of biology, the history of medicine, and the scientific background of the Radical Enlightenment (case in point, the influence of vitalist medicine on Diderot). This is a more vital vitalism, or at least a more ‘biologistic,’ ‘embodied,’ medicalized vitalism. I distinguish between what I would call ‘substantival’ and ‘functional’ forms of (...)
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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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  • 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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