Processes within Processes: A Dynamic Account of Living Beings and its Implications for Understanding the Human Individual
Dupre (John)
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. John Dupré’s chapter, ‘Processes Within Processes: A Dynamic Account of Living Beings’ , aims to show that we ought to take seriously in metaphysical terms the emerging processual picture of biological life, and this not only with respect to the evolution of biological individuality, as sketched by Moreno and Newman2.
  2. However, unlike Walsh and Wiebe3, Dupré does not think that the concept of substance can play any constructive role in this. Instead, Dupré argues that an organism is not a thing, or a substance, but a process.
  3. Here the principle grounds for this claim are laid out explicitly: organisms are in thermodynamic disequilibrium with their environments; organisms have life cycles (discussed also in DiFrisco and Mossio’s chapter4); and organisms (typically) are dependent on many symbionts.
  4. Of course, since humans are organisms, it follows on this view that they are also a kind of process, and this has consequences for a number of central philosophical issues, most notably for the present volume, personal identity as discussed in Snowdon5’s and Meincke6’s chapter.
  5. Dupré’s chapter concludes with discussions of two less standard issues,
    1. The possibility of immortality, which is argued to be even less plausible than from traditional substance perspectives, and
    2. The ontological nature of pregnancy, which is described as the gradual bifurcation of a process.
    The latter topic is also discussed in the chapters by Kingma7 and Meincke++FN


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

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: |.|Taken from "Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John) - Biological Identity: Why Metaphysicians and Philosophers of Biology Should Talk to One Another". |.|See "Walsh (Denis) & Wiebe (Kayla) - The Being of Living Beings: Foundationalist Materialism versus Hylomorphism". |.|See "Newman (Stuart A.) - The Origins and Evolution of Animal Identity". |.|See "DiFrisco (James) & Mossio (Matteo) - Diachronic Identity in Complex Life Cycles: An Organizational Perspective". |.|See "Snowdon (Paul) - The Nature of Persons and the Nature of Animals". |.|See "Meincke (Anne Sophie) - Processual Animalism". |.|See "Kingma (Elselijn) - Pregnancy and Biological Identity". |..|

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