Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology
Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John), Eds.
This Page provides (where held) the Abstract of the above Book and those of all the Papers contained in it.
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Authors Citing this Book: Meincke (Anne Sophie)


BOOK ABSTRACT:

Amazon Book Description

  1. Analytic metaphysics has recently discovered biology as a means of grounding metaphysical theories. This has resulted in long-standing metaphysical puzzles, such as the problems of personal identity and material constitution, being increasingly addressed by appeal to a biological understanding of identity. This development within metaphysics is in significant tension with the growing tendency amongst philosophers of biology to regard biological identity as a deep puzzle in its own right, especially following recent advances in our understanding of symbiosis, the evolution of multi-cellular organisms and the inherently dynamical character of living systems. Moreover, and building on these biological insights, the broadly substance ontological framework of metaphysical theories of biological identity appears problematic to a growing number of philosophers of biology who invoke process ontology instead.
  2. This volume addresses this tension, exploring to what extent it can be dissolved. For this purpose, the volume presents the first selection of essays exclusively focused on biological identity and written by experts in metaphysics, the philosophy of biology and biology. The resulting cross-disciplinary dialogue paves the way for a convincing account of biological identity that is both metaphysically constructive and scientifically informed, and will be of interest to metaphysicians, philosophers of biology and theoretical biologists.

Contents
  1. "Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John) - Biological Identity: Why Metaphysicians and Philosophers of Biology Should Talk to One Another"
  2. "Oderberg (David) - Siphonophores: A Metaphysical Case Study"
  3. "Huneman (Philippe) - Biological Individuals as ‘Weak Individuals’ and their Identity: Exploring a Radical Hypothesis in the Metaphysics of Science"
  4. "Olson (Eric) - What is the Problem of Biological Individuality?"
  5. "Moreno (Alvaro) - The Role of Individuality in the Origin of Life"
  6. "Walsh (Denis) & Wiebe (Kayla) - The Being of Living Beings: Foundationalist Materialism versus Hylomorphism"
  7. "Newman (Stuart A.) - The Origins and Evolution of Animal Identity"
  8. "Dupre (John) - Processes within Processes: A Dynamic Account of Living Beings and its Implications for Understanding the Human Individual"
  9. "Wiggins (David) - Activity, Process, Continuant, Substance, Organism"
  10. "DiFrisco (James) & Mossio (Matteo) - Diachronic Identity in Complex Life Cycles: An Organizational Perspective"
  11. "Kingma (Elselijn) - Pregnancy and Biological Identity"
  12. "Ferner (Adam) - Processual Individuals and Moral Responsibility"
  13. "Snowdon (Paul) - The Nature of Persons and the Nature of Animals"
  14. "Meincke (Anne Sophie) - Processual Animalism: Towards a Scientifically Informed Theory of Personal Identity"

BOOK COMMENT:
  • Routledge; 1st edition (26 August 2020)
  • I'll review the abstracts of papers I've not got, and can't find on-line, and may purchase if it seems sensible - though the book costs over £100 in hardback.



"DiFrisco (James) & Mossio (Matteo) - Diachronic Identity in Complex Life Cycles: An Organizational Perspective"

Source: Dupré, J. (ed.): Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology, (History and Philosophy of Biology), Routledge, In press.


Authors’ Abstract
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. We discuss the utility of the resulting organizational view, as well as its relations with other approaches to biological individuality.

Editors’ Abstract4
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


COMMENT:




In-Page Footnotes ("DiFrisco (James) & Mossio (Matteo) - Diachronic Identity in Complex Life Cycles: An Organizational Perspective")

Footnote 4: Footnote 5:



"Dupre (John) - Processes within Processes: A Dynamic Account of Living Beings and its Implications for Understanding the Human Individual"

Source: Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John), Eds. - Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology


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 Meincke8.


COMMENT: I don't yet have a copy of this paper. The book costs over £100 in hardback, so I'll have to await the paperback, if one ever appears.




In-Page Footnotes ("Dupre (John) - Processes within Processes: A Dynamic Account of Living Beings and its Implications for Understanding the Human Individual")

Footnote 1: Footnote 2: Footnote 3: Footnote 4: Footnote 5: Footnote 6: Footnote 7: Footnote 8:



"Ferner (Adam) - Processual Individuals and Moral Responsibility"

Source: Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John), Eds. - Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Adam Ferner’s chapter ‘Processual Individuals and Moral Responsibility’, critically examines the processual view of biological individuals which Ferner, like Wiggins2, interprets as maintaining that organisms, qua processes, are composed of numerically different temporal parts.
  2. Ferner’s particular concern is with the resulting shift in our self-conception. He argues that Wiggins’s arguments against the (four-dimensionalist type of) process view of organisms are compelling not only ontologically but also with respect to moral responsibility; it seems hard to conceive of one temporal part being responsible for the actions committed by another temporal part.
  3. Our ordinary concept of moral responsibility presupposes the idea that we are substances, i.e., continuants. However, Ferner acknowledges that what is held to be a piece of descriptive metaphysics – the neo-Aristotelian substance view – may actually contain normative elements.
  4. Looking at the criticism directed by post-modern philosophers against the (neo-)liberal concept of the unified, boundaried, atomic, sovereign human subject, Ferner concludes that the processual understanding of the human subject may prove useful in counteracting the marginalisation of collective responsibility inherent in substance ontology.


COMMENT: I don't yet have a copy of this paper. The book costs over £100 in hardback, so I'll have to await the paperback, if one ever appears.




In-Page Footnotes ("Ferner (Adam) - Processual Individuals and Moral Responsibility")

Footnote 1: Footnote 2:



"Huneman (Philippe) - Biological Individuals as ‘Weak Individuals’ and their Identity: Exploring a Radical Hypothesis in the Metaphysics of Science"

Source: Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John), Eds. - Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology


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.


COMMENT: I don't yet have a copy of this paper. The book costs over £100 in hardback, so I'll have to await the paperback, if one ever appears.




In-Page Footnotes ("Huneman (Philippe) - Biological Individuals as ‘Weak Individuals’ and their Identity: Exploring a Radical Hypothesis in the Metaphysics of Science")

Footnote 1: Footnote 2: Footnote 3:



"Kingma (Elselijn) - Pregnancy and Biological Identity"

Source: Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John), Eds. - Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology


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.


COMMENT: I don't yet have a copy of this paper. The book costs over £100 in hardback, so I'll have to await the paperback, if one ever appears.




In-Page Footnotes ("Kingma (Elselijn) - Pregnancy and Biological Identity")

Footnote 1:



"Meincke (Anne Sophie) - Processual Animalism: Towards a Scientifically Informed Theory of Personal Identity"

Source: Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John), Eds. - Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology


Author’s Abstract
  1. Animalism is the view that we are biological beings, i.e., organisms or animals, and have biological persistence conditions. Personal identity, properly understood, is biological identity.
  2. In this chapter, I discuss this core animalist tenet, arguing for three claims:
    1. The Harmless Claim: animalism has not yet sufficiently explicated its key notion of biological identity;
    2. The Not-so-harmless Claim: a large part of what animalists do say about biological identity is in tension with what biologists and philosophers of biology say about biological identity;
    3. The Radical Claim: animalism cannot provide a convincing account of personal identity so long as the notion of biological identity employed is based on the metaphysical assumption that organisms are substances or things composed of (smaller) things.
  3. I argue that only processual animalism which recognises organisms as processes can deliver a truly convincing account of biological and, hence, personal identity, thus overcoming a characteristic dilemma faced by psychological accounts of personal identity, rather than repeating it.

Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Anne Sophie Meincke concludes the dialogue by arguing for ‘Processual Animalism’: a version of animalism that is based on the view that organisms are (continuant) processes.
  2. This proposal is motivated by the critical diagnosis that the animalist understanding of the key notion of biological identity is in conflict with our best contemporary science.
  3. Meincke shows this with respect to the two criteria of biological identity through time proposed by the animalists Eric Olson and Peter Van Inwagen, the Biological Continuity Criterion and the Life Criterion. The former proves unable to handle branching cases, such as the case of monozygotic twinning, prompting empirically questionable ad-hoc claims, while the latter invokes an empirically implausible view of a biological life as a well-individuated event.
  4. Meincke further argues that these difficulties have their ultimate roots in the thing ontological framework presupposed by animalism, and suggests that animalism adopt a (non-four-dimensionalist) process ontological framework instead.
  5. Meincke then explains how such a processual and scientifically informed notion of biological identity, complemented by a processual theory of mammalian pregnancy, resolves the branching problem for animalism and lays the foundations for a convincing comprehensive account of our identity through time that integrates biological and personal aspects.


COMMENT: Printout filed in "Various - Papers on Desktop".




In-Page Footnotes ("Meincke (Anne Sophie) - Processual Animalism: Towards a Scientifically Informed Theory of Personal Identity")

Footnote 1:



"Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John) - Biological Identity: Why Metaphysicians and Philosophers of Biology Should Talk to One Another"

Source: Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John), Eds. - Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology


Authors’ Abstract
  1. Analytic metaphysics has recently discovered biology as a means of grounding metaphysical theories. Long-standing metaphysical puzzles are being reconsidered in the light of biological perspectives or concepts. These include the problems of personal identity and material constitution, which are increasingly being addressed by appeal to a biological understanding of identity.
  2. This development within metaphysics is in significant tension with the growing tendency amongst philosophers of biology to regard biological identity as a deep puzzle in its own right: recent studies especially of symbiosis and of the evolution of multi-cellular organisms, and the inherently dynamical character of living systems as revealed by systems biology and developmental biology, pose manifold and intricate challenges for a satisfying account of biological identity, ruling out an appeal to any unproblematic notion thereof.
  3. In this introductory chapter, we describe these challenges but also the need for an appreciation of the metaphysical questions and implications lurking in the background. Taken together, these observations demonstrate the importance of a dialogue between metaphysics and the philosophy of biology, which the present collection of essays aims to initiate.

Contents
  1. Biological Identity in Metaphysics and in the Philosophy of Biology
  2. Why Metaphysicians and Philosophers of Biology Should Talk to One Another
  3. Overview of the Dialogue to Follow1


COMMENT: Printout filed in "Various - Papers on Desktop".




In-Page Footnotes ("Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John) - Biological Identity: Why Metaphysicians and Philosophers of Biology Should Talk to One Another")

Footnote 1:
  • This section contains useful precis of the other Chapters in the book, which I intend to extract in due course.



"Moreno (Alvaro) - The Role of Individuality in the Origin of Life"

Source: Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John), Eds. - Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. In contrast with Olson’s analytical approach2, Alvaro Moreno’s essay on ‘The Role of Individuality in the Origin of Life’ draws our attention to the evolutionary history of biological individuality, the study of which, he believes, is required for an adequate understanding not only of biological individuality but also of life as such: the successful proliferation of life on Earth would not have been possible without the emergence of forms of biological individuality.
  2. This emergence, Moreno explains, was a long process with three stages.
    1. Biogenesis begins with the evolution of self-maintaining (autopoietic) networks of chemical processes which become organisationally integrated as a result of a process of encapsulation.
    2. Second, as these minimal forms of individuality acquire primitive capacities of heritance they undergo a process of complexification which triggers the appearance of proto-ecosystems, i.e., synchronic networks of interactions between different groups of proto-species. This process is accompanied by the emergence of semi-autonomous genetic quasi-individuals which replicate3 themselves using the organisation of autopoietic protocells.
    3. Only when, finally, the latter develop an early form of immune system to protect themselves against invasion do we see the advent of true individuals in the sense of hierarchically and cohesively organised systems, which through cooperation may in turn generate new cohesive associated entities.


COMMENT: I don't yet have a copy of this paper. The book costs over £100 in hardback, so I'll have to await the paperback, if one ever appears.




In-Page Footnotes ("Moreno (Alvaro) - The Role of Individuality in the Origin of Life")

Footnote 1: Footnote 2:



"Newman (Stuart A.) - The Origins and Evolution of Animal Identity"

Source: Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John), Eds. - Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Questions of the identity of an individual are widely recognised as being intimately connected with the question of a kind to which the individual belongs.
  2. While metaphysicians have traditionally appealed to Aristotle’s hylomorphist idea of an essential form shared by different individuals, philosophers of biology have generally assumed that the relevant kinds should be the species (or perhaps higher taxa) provided by broadly Darwinian evolutionary biology.
  3. In his chapter, ‘The Origins and Evolution of Animal Identity’, theoretical biologist Stuart A. Newman argues that this is a mistake. Because of their variability, both synchronic and diachronic, species provide poor candidates for natural kinds, a fact which has contributed to scepticism about the uniqueness and objectivity of biological individuality.
  4. However, focusing on the underlying processes by which liquid tissues diversify into a relatively small number of basic forms offers a more promising approach.
  5. What Newman calls physicalist evolutionary developmental biology can provide categories prior to phylogenetic kinds, and suited to the application of concepts of natural kind, essence, and even, in a broadly Kantian sense, natural purpose.
  6. Newman offers a sketch of the evolution of individuality that emphasises the interaction of genetic factors with the physics of biological materials, and thus the gradual emancipation of biological form from the former through the emergence of new, genuinely processual biomaterials.


COMMENT: I don't yet have a copy of this paper. The book costs over £100 in hardback, so I'll have to await the paperback, if one ever appears.




In-Page Footnotes ("Newman (Stuart A.) - The Origins and Evolution of Animal Identity")

Footnote 1:



"Oderberg (David) - Siphonophores: A Metaphysical Case Study"

Source: Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John), Eds. - Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology


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.


COMMENT: I don't yet have a copy of this paper. The book costs over £100 in hardback, so I'll have to await the paperback, if one ever appears.




In-Page Footnotes ("Oderberg (David) - Siphonophores: A Metaphysical Case Study")

Footnote 1:



"Olson (Eric) - What is the Problem of Biological Individuality?"

Source: Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John), Eds. - Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Having seen how different metaphysical frameworks impact on the understanding of biological identity, the time has come for some foundational reflections. Eric Olson’s chapter addresses, from a metaphysical perspective, the question ‘What is the Problem of Biological Individuality?’ with the aim of better understanding what could actually count as a solution of this problem.
  2. Olson argues that philosophers of biology tend to misstate the problem of biological individuality as a result of certain metaphysical presumptions that are inadequately reflected upon: instead of asking what regions are occupied by an organism, philosophers of biology are searching for a definition of ‘biological individual’ or, more specifically, of ‘organism’.
  3. Using the examples of the genetic theory and the functional-integration theory of biological individuality, Olson identifies what he calls the principle of material plenitude as being mainly responsible for this definition-orientated approach. This principle, following from the conjunction of temporal-parts ontology and the doctrine of unrestricted composition, holds that every matter-filled spacetime region is occupied by a material thing.
  4. Olson concludes by proposing an existential rather than definitional statement of the problem of biological identity, which does not presuppose the principle of material plenitude or any other controversial metaphysical thesis.


COMMENT: I don't yet have a copy of this paper. The book costs over £100 in hardback, so I'll have to await the paperback, if one ever appears.




In-Page Footnotes ("Olson (Eric) - What is the Problem of Biological Individuality?")

Footnote 1:



"Snowdon (Paul) - The Nature of Persons and the Nature of Animals"

Source: Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John), Eds. - Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Paul F. Snowdon’s contribution ‘The Nature of Persons and the Nature of Animals’ undertakes to elucidate the notion of an animal that is pivotal to animalism, i.e., to the theory that we are identical with animals. More specifically, Snowdon’s aim is to discern where exactly the biologists’ empirical knowledge about animals can help advance philosophical controversies about animalism.
  2. Snowdon argues that when it comes to anti-animalist dissociation arguments (arguments that allege that the person and the animal which initially are co-located can come apart), constructive contributions from biologists will be confined to actual cases, such as cases of conjoined twinning.
  3. Pro-animalist arguments like the ‘too many minds problem’, however, are not in need of biological certification as their presumptions about animals are uncontentious.
  4. As to the general nature of animals, Snowdon, like Wiggins2 and Ferner3, criticises the process view, distinguishing two versions thereof:
    1. A moderate version which explains animals in terms of processes and
    2. An eliminativist version which replaces the concept of an animal with the concept of process.
  5. According to Snowdon, both involve questionable assumptions about persistence, contradict ordinary thinking about animals and are guilty of wrongly inferring from the necessity of processes for the existence of organisms to the latter’s identity with processes.


COMMENT: I don't yet have a copy of this paper. The book costs over £100 in hardback, so I'll have to await the paperback, if one ever appears.




In-Page Footnotes ("Snowdon (Paul) - The Nature of Persons and the Nature of Animals")

Footnote 1: Footnote 2: Footnote 3:



"Walsh (Denis) & Wiebe (Kayla) - The Being of Living Beings: Foundationalist Materialism versus Hylomorphism"

Source: Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John), Eds. - Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Denis Walsh and Kayla Wiebe’s essay on ‘The Being of Living Beings: Foundationalist Materialism versus Hylomorphism’2 takes another look at the relationship between metaphysics and science.
  2. It proceeds from the observation that the study of organisms in the biology of the 20th and early 21st centuries has predominantly been framed by a theory of being that stresses the commonalities between living and non-living matter.
  3. Walsh and Wiebe aim to show that this theory of being – they call it Foundationalist Materialism – unhelpfully constrains the scientific study of organisms by preventing us from appreciating the distinctive features of organisms, namely their self-building, self-maintaining, processual and emergent capacities.
  4. In response, they propose Aristotelian hylomorphism3 as a more suitable ontological framework. According to hylomorphism4, organisms, qua substances, are interactions between matter and form such that while the properties and capacities of an organism as a whole are sustained by the properties and capacities of its parts, the former cannot be reduced to the latter.
  5. The hylomorphist assumption of a dynamical reciprocity between matter and form, Walsh and Wiebe argue, does justice to the distinctive status of organisms as processual emergents – a thesis neo-Aristotelian metaphysicians are likely to welcome.


COMMENT: I don't yet have a copy of this paper. The book costs over £100 in hardback, so I'll have to await the paperback, if one ever appears.




In-Page Footnotes ("Walsh (Denis) & Wiebe (Kayla) - The Being of Living Beings: Foundationalist Materialism versus Hylomorphism")

Footnote 1:



"Wiggins (David) - Activity, Process, Continuant, Substance, Organism"

Source: Wiggins (David) - Continuants: Their Activity, Their Being, and Their Identity


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. (This essay) is a response to John Dupré's suggestion that an ontology of processes will provide a better framework for interpreting science than any ontology of substances. In response, after giving grounds to doubt that an ontology of pure processes can muster the resources to answer the individuative questions presented by the biological sciences themselves, I defend a plural ontology of process, activity, event and continuant.
  2. We are referred to “a manifesto entitled “A Process Ontology for Biology” at Link”.

Editors’ Abstract2
  1. David Wiggins, in his essay ‘Activity, Process, Continuant, Substance, Organism’, argues against the view put forward by Dupré3, Meincke4 and others that organisms are processes and that the appropriate ontological framework for biological science is provided by process ontology.
  2. Wiggins’s rejection of this view is mainly motivated by considerations about persistence: insofar as organisms persist through time they are, Wiggins claims, continuants, i.e., material things or substances.
  3. Thus, Wiggins criticises attempts to explain biological identity through time with the help of the concept of genidentity: organisms are not concatenations of states.
  4. Assuming that any plausible scientific explanation of biological reality should comprise a plausible account of the persistence of organisms, Wiggins concludes that an ontology that does not allow for material things or substances in addition to processes fails. He therefore proposes a plural ontology which assumes process, activity, event and substance, or continuant, as fundamental categories of being.
  5. Such an ontology attributes a characteristic principle of activity for each kind of organism and, Wiggins claims, is also able to handle convincingly difficult questions, such as the questions of whether siphonophores and slime moulds are individuals and how to count Blackberry plants.


COMMENT:




In-Page Footnotes ("Wiggins (David) - Activity, Process, Continuant, Substance, Organism")

Footnote 1: Footnote 2: Footnote 3: Footnote 4:

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
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