PhilSci Archive

Ask Not "What is an Individual?"

Waters, C. Kenneth (2018) Ask Not "What is an Individual?". [Preprint]

[img]
Preview
Text
Waters_2018_Ask Not %22What is an individual_%22pdf.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives.

Download (773kB) | Preview

Abstract

Philosophers of biology typically pose questions about individuation by asking “what is an individual?” For example, we ask, “what is an individual species”, “what is an individual organism”, and “what is an individual gene?” In the first part of this chapter, I present my account of the gene concept and how it is used in investigative practices in order to motivate a more pragmatic approach. Instead of asking “what is a gene?”, I ask: “how do biologists individuate genes?”, “for what purposes?”, and “do their practices of individuating genes serve these purposes?" In the second part of this chapter, I propose that we use this approach when analyzing concepts of organisms and biological individuals. Following philosophical pragmatism, I argue that we should abstain from attempts to situate individuation of Darwinian individuals or of holobionts in a philosophy of nature. Instead, we should analyze practices of individuating organisms in terms of three-place relations between the world, ideas, and human purposes and actions. I conclude with three lessons: an ontological, an epistemological, and a meta-philosophical lesson, which I suggest, apply to philosophy of science generally and to philosophy and metaphysics at large.


Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Waters, C. Kennethckwaters@ucalgary.ca
Keywords: pragmatics, individuating, gene, organism, evolutionary individual, holobiont, actual-difference maker, selection, speciation, philosophy of nature, metaphysics
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
Depositing User: C. Kenneth Waters
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2018 20:35
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2018 20:35
Item ID: 14743
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
Date: 4 June 2018
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14743

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item