What is An Organism? An Immunological Answer
Pradeu (Thomas)
Source: History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, Vol. 32, No. 2/3, The Concept of Organism: Historical, Philosophical, Scientific Perspectives (2010), pp. 247-267
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. The question, "What is an organism?," formerly considered as essential in biology, has now been increasingly replaced by a larger question, "What is a biological individual?"
  2. On the grounds that
    1. Individuation is theory-dependent, and
    2. Physiology does not offer a theory,
    biologists and philosophers of biology have claimed that it is the theory of evolution by natural selection that tells us what counts as a biological individual.
  3. Here I show that one physiological field, immunology, offers a theory that makes possible a biological individuation based on physiological grounds. I give a new answer to the question of the individuation of an organism by linking together the evolutionary and the immunological approaches to biological individuation.

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