Pregnancy and Biological Identity
Kingma (Elselijn)
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. Elselijn Kingma’s chapter on ‘Pregnancy and Biological Identity’ explores a mostly neglected facet of the problem of biological identity, mammalian pregnancy.
  2. What is the metaphysical relationship between the fetus (‘foster’) and the gestating organism (‘gravida’)? And what are the respective implications of this relationship for biological identity over time?
  3. As regards the first question, the traditionally predominant view is the ‘containment view’ according to which the foster is merely contained in the gravida but is not a part of the latter. But Kingma points out that the very few arguments that have been provided in favour of the containment view in fact support the parthood view.
  4. The parthood view is substantiated by four criteria of organismality currently discussed in the philosophy of biology:
    1. Homeostasis and physiological autonomy,
    2. Metabolic unity and functional integration,
    3. Topological continuity,
    4. Immunological tolerance.
  5. As to the second question, Kingma argues that assuming a traditional substance ontological framework for arguments in favour of the parthood view carries with it the implication that biological individuals cannot begin to exist before birth, but this implication may be prevented by switching to a revised version of substance ontology which allows for parts of substances to be substances themselves.


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In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1:

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