Philosophy and Biomedical Information Systems

In Katherine Munn & Barry Smith (eds.), Applied Ontology: An Introduction. Ontos. pp. 17-30 (2008)
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The pathbreaking scientific advances of recent years call for a new philosophical consideration of the fundamental categories of biology and its neighboring disciplines. Above all, the new information technologies used in biomedical research, and the necessity to master the continuously growing flood of data that is associated therewith, demand a profound and systematic reflection on the systematization and classification of biological data. This, however, demands robust theories of basic concepts such as kind, species, part, whole, function, process, fragment, sequence, expression, boundary, locus, environment, system, and so on. Concepts which belong to the implicit stock of knowledge of every biologist. They amount to a dimension of biological reality which remains constant in the course of biological evolution and whose theoretical treatment requires contemporary analogues of the tools developed in traditional Aristotelian metaphysics. To provide the necessary theories and definitions is a task for philosophy, which is thus called upon to play an important role as intermediary between biology and informatics.
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