Biological Individuals as ‘Weak Individuals’ and their Identity: Exploring a Radical Hypothesis in the Metaphysics of Science
Huneman (Philippe)
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. Philippe Huneman explicitly proposes to apply the kind of metaphysics of science advocated by Ladyman and Ross2 to the question of biological individuality.
  2. Beginning with recent insights into the prevalence of symbiosis, and remarking recent research strategies that treat organisms as ecosystems, he proposes that we should think of biological individuals as ecosystems.
  3. A familiar problem with this idea is that given the range of kinds of relation between organisms in the traditional sense (microbes or genomically homogeneous macrobes) some criterion is required for membership of the organism as ecosystem.
  4. Huneman advocates a concept of ‘weak individuality’ that can address this problem: roughly speaking, if you are part of an individual, then the chances of something else interacting with you are greater if it is part of the same individual than if it is not. As Huneman explains, this criterion implies that individuality is not an all or nothing matter, but a matter of degree.
  5. While all this will seem quite plausible to a metaphysician of science of the kind to which Huneman affiliates himself, it is in stark contrast with views held by neo-Aristotelian metaphysicians, such as Oderberg’s thesis T3.


I don't yet have a copy of this paper. I will buy the book when it comes out.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Footnote 2: Footnote 3:

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