- What does it mean to be the same organism over time? This chapter develops an understanding of diachronic identity of organisms from an organizational perspective.
- We argue that a necessary condition for diachronic identity is organizational continuity, i.e., the presence of a continuous causal1 process linking successive organizational regimes, irrespective of material and functional changes.
- Organizational continuity is not a sufficient condition, however, because it cannot discriminate between the development of the same individual and the reproduction of a new individual.
- We therefore suggest that there are temporal boundaries of identity when there are changes in the number of continuous organized systems, which occurs through fission2, fusion3, or a combination of the two.
- We discuss the utility of the resulting organizational view, as well as its relations with other approaches to biological individuality.
- James DiFrisco and Matteo Mossio’s essay, ‘Diachronic Identity in Complex Life Cycles: An Organisational Perspective’, is concerned, too5, with the diachronic dimension of biological identity, and hence with the problem of variability within the life cycle.
- However, they argue that conditions of diachronic identity cannot be found in any constant properties of the organism nor in a Wiggins-style principle of activity, but must be sought in relations of causal continuity (also known as genidentity) between temporal parts of the organism understood as a four-dimensional causal process.
- More specifically (i.e., in contrast to common genidentity accounts), they describe a sufficient condition for diachronic identity, organizational continuity, which besides spatiotemporal continuity has as a second component a causal structure they call closure of constraints.
- Whereas a constraint, in their terminology, is a feature that acts to limit possible transformations without itself being affected by the interaction, closure of constraints refers to a number of such individual constraints which together determine the thermodynamic flow within a system.
- It is this that allows a properly organized system to persist through time. An obvious problem that needs to be addressed within this approach is that it does not immediately distinguish development from reproduction, and a large part of the chapter is devoted to exploring ways of dealing with fission, fusion, and sexual reproduction within this general framework.
Footnote 4: Footnote 5:
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)