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Organisms or biological individuals? Combining physiological and evolutionary individuality

Pradeu, Thomas (2016) Organisms or biological individuals? Combining physiological and evolutionary individuality. Biology & Philosophy, 31 (6). pp. 797-817. ISSN 0169-3867


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The definition of biological individuality is one of the most discussed topics in philosophy of biology, but current debate has focused almost exclusively on evolution-based accounts. Moreover, several participants in this debate consider the notions of a biological individual and an organism as equivalent. In this paper, I show that the debates would be considerably enriched and clarified if philosophers took into account two elements. First, physiological fields are crucial for the understanding of biological individuality. Second, the category of biological individuals should be divided into two subcategories: physiological individuals and evolutionary individuals, which suggests that the notions of organism and biological individual should not be used interchangeably. I suggest that the combination of an evolutionary and a physiological perspective will enable biologists and philosophers to supply an account of biological individuality that will be both more comprehensive and more in accordance with scientific practices.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Pradeu, Thomas
Depositing User: Thomas Pradeu
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2020 02:38
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2020 02:38
Item ID: 18249
Journal or Publication Title: Biology & Philosophy
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1007/s10539-016-9551-1
Date: 2016
Page Range: pp. 797-817
Volume: 31
Number: 6
ISSN: 0169-3867

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