Structural Powers and the Homeodynamic Unity of Organisms

In William M. R. Simpson, Robert C. Koons & Nicholas J. Teh (eds.), Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Contemporary Science. Routledge. pp. 169-184 (2017)
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Although they are continually compositionally reconstituted and reconfigured, organisms nonetheless persist as ontologically unified beings over time – but in virtue of what? A common answer is: in virtue of their continued possession of the capacity for morphological invariance which persists through, and in spite of, their mereological alteration. While we acknowledge that organisms‟ capacity for the “stability of form” – homeostasis - is an important aspect of their diachronic unity, we argue that this capacity is derived from, and grounded in a more primitive one – namely, the homeodynamic capacity for the “specified variation of form”. In introducing a novel type of causal power – a „structural power‟ – we claim that it is the persistence of their dynamic potential to produce a specified series of structurally adaptive morphologies which grounds organisms‟ privileged status as metaphysically “one over many” over time.

Author Profiles

Christopher J. Austin
Durham University
Anna Marmodoro
Durham University


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