Siphonophores: A Metaphysical Case Study
Oderberg (David)
Source: Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John), Eds. - Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology
Paper - Abstract

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Editors’ Abstract1

  1. Oderberg takes up the challenge posed by Siphonophores to the neo-Aristotelian thesis that all concrete biological particulars are either organisms or parts of organisms or collectives of organisms, and do not belong to more than one of these categories (thesis T).
  2. The tripartite distinction between parts, organisms and collectives of organisms corresponds with Aristotle’s strict distinction between parts of substances, substances and pluralities of substances. But philosophers of biology commonly categorise Siphonophores as belonging to both the class of organisms and the class of collectives of organisms, or as being located on the borderline between these two classes.
  3. In contrast, Oderberg argues that siphonophores should be regarded as individual organisms, on the basis of three considerations:
    1. The zooids that constitute Siphonophores qualify as specialised parts of a whole in terms of their structure, function and overall morphology;
    2. The zooids’ colonial origin does not entail their colonial status;
    3. Zooid budding is a developmental process of growth, not to be confused with reproduction.
  4. Oderberg draws the conclusion that thesis T, and Aristotelian substance metaphysics in general, is in full conformity with natural science.


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In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1:

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