Biological Individuality: The Identity and Persistence of Living Entities (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology)

Biological Individuality: The Identity and Persistence of Living Entities (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology)

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Jack Wilson
Cambridge University Press, 8/28/1999
EAN 9780521624251, ISBN10: 0521624258

Hardcover, 150 pages, 22.8 x 15.2 x 1 cm
Language: English

What makes a biological entity an individual? Jack Wilson shows that past philosophers have failed to explicate the conditions an entity must satisfy to be a living individual. He explores the reason for this failure and explains why we should limit ourselves to examples involving real organisms rather than thought experiments. This book explores and resolves paradoxes that arise when one applies past notions of individuality to biological examples beyond the conventional range and presents an analysis of identity and persistence. The book's main purpose is to bring together two lines of research, theoretical biology and metaphysics, which have dealt with the same subject in isolation from one another. Wilson explains an alternative theory about biological individuality which solves problems which cannot be addressed by either field alone. He presents a more fine-grained vocabulary of individuation based on diverse kinds of living things, allowing him to clarify previously muddled disputes about individuality in biology.

Part I. Beyond Horses and Oak Trees
A New Theory of Individuation for Living Entities
1. Introduction
2. The meaning of 'a life'
3. The poverty of examples
4. Imaginary examples and conceptual analysis
5. What is it?
Part II. The Biological and Philosophical Roots of Individuality
6. Why biologists (should) care about individuality
7. Philosophers on living entities
8. Natural kinds and substantial kinds
9. Patterns and natural kinds
Part III. Individuality and Equivocation
10. Paradigm individuals
the higher animals
11. Other possible solutions
12. The proposed solution
Part IV. The Necessity of Biological Origin and Substantial Kinds
13. A valid argument for sortal essentialism
14. The necessity of biological origin
15. Sex
16. Species membership and the necessity of genealogy
Part V. Generation and Corruption
17. Genetic individuals
18. Functional individuals
19. Developmental individuals
20. Raising the dead
Part VI. Personal Identity Naturalized
Our Bodies, Our Selves
21. Human beings as biological entities
22. Is a person a human being?
23. Conclusions
Appendix. Identity and sortals
why relative identity is self-contradictory