Individuating Part-whole Relations in the Biological World

In O. Bueno, R. Chen & M. B. Fagan (eds.), Individuation across Experimental and Theoretical Sciences. Oxford University Press (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX


What are the conditions under which one biological object is a part of another biological object? This paper answers this question by developing a general, systematic account of biological parthood. I specify two criteria for biological parthood. Substantial Spatial Inclusionrequires biological parts to be spatially located inside or in the region that the natural boundary of t he biological whole occupies. Compositional Relevance captures the fact that a biological part engages in a biological process that must make a necessary contribution to a condition that is minimally sufficient to one or more of the characteristic behaviors of the biological whole. Instead of emphasizing the diversity of part-whole relations in the biological world, this paper asks what biological part-whole relations have in common and what constrains their existence, in general. After presenting the two criteria for biological parthood I discuss in how far my account can cope with hard cases (e.g., redundant parts) and I reveal the merits and limits of monism.

Author's Profile

Marie I. Kaiser
Bielefeld University


Added to PP

445 (#36,326)

6 months
105 (#34,927)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?