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.
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.
Table of Contents
1. Biological Identity: Why Metaphysicians and Philosophers of Biology Should Talk
to One Another
Anne Sophie Meincke & John Dupré
2. Siphonophores: A Metaphysical Case Study
David S. Oderberg
3. Biological Individuals as ‘Weak Individuals’ and their Identity: Exploring a Radical Hypothesis in the Metaphysics of Science
4. What is the Problem of Biological Individuality?
Eric T. Olson
5. The Role of Individuality in the Origin of Life
6. The Being of Living Beings: Foundationalist Materialism versus Hylomorphism
Denis Walsh & Kayla Wiebe
7. The Origins and Evolution of Animal Identity
Stuart A. Newman
8. Processes within Processes: A Dynamic Account of Living Beings and its Implications for Understanding the Human Individual
9. Activity, Process, Continuant, Substance, Organism
10.Diachronic Identity in Complex Life Cycles: An Organisational Perspective
James DiFrisco & Matteo Mossio
11. Pregnancy and Biological Identity
12. Processual Individuals and Moral Responsibility
13. The Nature of Persons and the Nature of Animals
Paul F. Snowdon
14. Processual Animalism
Anne Sophie Meincke
Anne Sophie Meincke is a Senior Research Fellow at the Philosophy Department of the University of Vienna. She works on metaphysics, philosophy of biology, philosophy of mind and action and their respective intersections. Her recent publications include the article "Autopoiesis, Biological Autonomy and the Process View of Life" (2019) and the edited volume Dispositionalism: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science (2020).
John Dupré is Professor of Philosophy of Science and Director of the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences (Egenis) at the University of Exeter. His main field of expertise is the philosophy of biology, but he also has a longstanding interest in metaphysics. His recent publications include Processes of Life (2012); and Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology (2018), co-edited with Daniel Nicholson.