My goal is to conceive how the reality would look like for hypothetical creatures that supposedly perceive on time scales much faster or much slower than that of us humans. To attain the goal, I propose modelling in two steps. At step one, we have to single out a unified parameter that sets time scale of perception. Changing substantially the value of the parameter would mean changing scale. I argue that the required parameter is duration of discrete perceptive frames, or (...) snapshots, whose sequencing constitutes perceptive process. I show that different standard durations of perceptive frames is the ground for differences in perceptive time scales of various animals. Abnormally changed duration of perceptive frames is the cause of the effect of distorted subjective time observed by humans under some conditions. Now comes step two of the modelling. By inserting some arbitrary duration of a perceptive frame, we set a hypothetical scale and thus emulate a viewpoint for virtual observation of the reality in a wider or narrower angle of embracing events in time. Like changing lenses of a microscope, viewing reality in different temporal scales makes certain features of reality manifested, others veiled. These are, in particular, features of life. If we observe an object in an inappropriate interval, we may not notice the very essence of a process it is undergoing. (shrink)
Unlike physics and chemistry, the behavioral sciences are historical sciences that explain the fuzzy complexity of social life through historical narratives. Unifying the behavioral sciences through evolutionary game theory would require a nested hierarchy of three kinds of historical narratives: natural history, cultural history, and biographical history. (Published Online April 27 2007).
The aim of this work is to present aggregation methods of hierarchically organized systems allowing one to replace the initial micro-system by a macro-system described by a few global variables. We also study the relations between the fast micro-dynamics and the slow macro-dynamics which can produce global properties. Emergence corresponds to a bottom-up coupling that is the result effected by a micro-level at a macro-level. As an example, we present prey-predator models with different time scales in an heterogeneous environment. A (...) fast time scale is associated to the migration process on spatial patches and a slow time scale is associated to growth and interactions between the populations. Preys must go on spatial patches where resources are located and where predators can attack them. The efficiency of the predators to catch preys is patch dependent. Perturbation methods allow us to aggregate the initial system of differential equations for the patch sub-populations into a macro-system of two differential equations governing the total population densities. We study the case of density independent and density dependent migrations. In the latter case, we show that different functional responses can emerge in the macro prey-predator model as a result of the coupling between the slow and fast systems. (shrink)
Standard microbial evolutionary ontology is organized according to a nested hierarchy of entities at various levels of biological organization. It typically detects and defines these entities in relation to the most stable aspects of evolutionary processes, by identifying lineages evolving by a process of vertical inheritance from an ancestral entity. However, recent advances in microbiology indicate that such an ontology has important limitations. The various dynamics detected within microbiological systems reveal that a focus on the most stable entities (or features (...) of entities) over time inevitably underestimates the extent and nature of microbial diversity. These dynamics are not the outcome of the process of vertical descent alone. Other processes, often involving causal interactions between entities from distinct levels of biological organisation, or operating at different time scales, are responsible not only for the destabilisation of pre-existing entities, but also for the emergence and stabilisation of novel entities in the microbial world. In this article we consider microbial entities as more or less stabilised functional wholes, and sketch a network-based ontology that can represent a diverse set of processes including, for example, as well as phylogenetic relations, interactions that stabilise or destabilise the interacting entities, spatial relations, ecological connections, and genetic exchanges. We use this pluralistic framework for evaluating (i) the existing ontological assumptions in evolution (e.g. whether currently recognized entities are adequate for understanding the causes of change and stabilisation in the microbial world), and (ii) for identifying hidden ontological kinds, essentially invisible from within a more limited perspective. We propose to recognize additional classes of entities that provide new insights into the structure of the microbial world, namely “processually equivalent” entities, “processually versatile” entities, and “stabilized” entities. (shrink)
There are many reasons for questioning the relevance of the concepts of self-organization (SO) and emergence. By studying three types of SO, respectively related to ontogeny, phylogeny and formalized models, we show that we always have to suppose an associated hetero-organization and preconceived immergence, unconsciously present in the authors mind. In order to understand how these unusual couples are working, they must be considered as agonistic antagonistic couples. Heteroorganization and immergence put constraints on the system so that SO and emergence (...) will produce new patterns and forms, depending on these constraints. Besides, such couples (SO and heteroorganization, emergence and immergence) seem to belong to a series of couples of the same type, allowing us to define a kind of model of life.The concept of self-organization has been presented as the main concept defining systemics, and second order cybernetics. This concept has been accepted also in general Biological Theory (BT) where authors endowed the key to many phenomena until then poorly understood. (shrink)
We will show that there is a strong form of emergence in cell biology. Beginning with C.D. Broad's classic discussion of emergence, we distinguish two conditions sufficient for emergence. Emergence in biology must be compatible with the thought that all explanations of systemic properties are mechanistic explanations and with their sufficiency. Explanations of systemic properties are always in terms of the properties of the parts within the system. Nonetheless, systemic properties can still be emergent. If the properties of the components (...) within the system cannot be predicted, even in principle, from the behavior of the system's parts within simpler wholes then there also will be systemic properties which cannot be predicted, even in principle, on basis of the behavior of these parts. We show in an explicit case study drawn from molecular cell physiology that biochemical networks display this kind of emergence, even though they deploy only mechanistic explanations. This illustrates emergence and its place in nature. (shrink)
Historical aspects of the issue are also broached. Intuitions relative to self-organization can be found in the works of such key Western philosophical figures as Aristotle, Leibniz and Kant. Interacting with more recent authors and cybernetics, self-organization represents a notion in keeping with the modern world’s discovery of radical complexity. The themes of teleology and emergence are analyzed by philosophers of sciences with regards to the issues of modelization and scientific explanation. (publisher, edited).
This extensive book may be the most complete synthesis of various criticisms of neo-Darwinian ideas stemming from distinct research traditions that, although steeped in the past, have received new attention in the last decade. The criticisms are used to build an alternative to neo-Darwinism by contesting its core claim; that is, natural selection is the cause of evolution.
Many researchers consider cancer to have molecular causes, namely mutated genes that result in abnormal cell proliferation (e.g. Weinberg 1998). For others, the causes of cancer are to be found not at the molecular level but at the tissue level where carcinogenesis consists of disrupted tissue organization with downward causation effects on cells and cellular components (e.g. Sonnenschein and Soto 2008). In this contribution, I ponder how to make sense of such downward causation claims. Adopting a manipulationist account of causation (...) (Woodward 2003), I propose a formal definition of downward causation and discuss further requirements (in light of Baumgartner 2009). I then show that such an account cannot be mobilized in support of non-reductive physicalism (contrary to Raatikainen 2010). However, I also argue that such downward causation claims might point at particularly interesting dynamic properties of causal relationships that might prove salient in characterizing causal relationships (following Woodward 2010). (shrink)
La vie est-elle un phénomène émergent ? Traduit-elle l'apparition de propriétés nouvelles au niveau d'un tout, qui seraient irréductibles aux propriétés et à l'organisation des composants de ce tout, ou encore imprédictibles à partir de ces mêmes éléments ? Développées à la charnière des XIXe et XXe siècles comme alternative aux deux approches antinomiques du vivant que sont le vitalisme et le mécanisme, la notion philosophique d'émergence connait aujourd'hui de nouveaux développements : avec la prise de conscience de la complexité (...) du vivant, un nouveau discours émergentiste refait surface en biologie et dans le champ scientifique des origines de la vie. Que signifie la notion d'émergence lorsqu'elle s'applique à l'apparition de la vie sur Terre ? Quelles sont sa pertinence et sa portée ? Dans ce livre, Christophe Malaterre propose une clarification conceptuelle de la notion philosophique d'émergence ; il en défend une conception epistémique et contextuelle, adossée à la notion d'explication. En s'inspirant des travaux les plus contemporains sur les origines de la vie, il montre que, selon le contexte epistémique dans lequel le phénomène est évalué, la qualification de l'apparition de la vie comme émergente est, ou non, justifié. Il défend alors la thèse selon laquelle la caractérisation émergentiste de l'apparition de la vie n'est qu'une conséquence temporaire des limites de nos connaissances scientifiques. (shrink)
Biochemical networks are often called upon to illustrate emergent properties of living systems. In this contribution, I question such emergentist claims by means of theoretical work on genetic regulatory models and random Boolean networks. If the existence of a critical connectivity Kc of such networks has often been coined “emergent” or “irreducible”, I propose on the contrary that the existence of a critical connectivity Kc is indeed mathematically explainable in network theory. This conclusion also applies to many other types of (...) formal networks and weakens the emergentist claim attached to bio-molecular networks, and by extension to living systems. (shrink)
Livings things are so very strange -- The quest for a theory of life -- Understanding 'understanding' -- Stability and instability -- The knotty origin of life problem -- Biology's crisis of identity -- Biology is chemistry -- What is life?
The architects of punctuated equilibrium and species selection as well as more recent workers (Vrba) have narrowed the original formulation of species selection and made it dependent upon so-called emergent characters. One criticism of this narrow version is the dearth of emergent characters with a consequent diminution in the robustness of species selection as an important evolutionary process. We argue that monomorphic species characters may at times be the focus of selection and that under these circumstances selection at the organism (...) level is by-passed due to the absence of critical variance. Selection therefore shifts to the species level where variability reemerges in a clade. The absence of critical variance among organisms prevents effect macroevolution from operating. If species-wide properties are important in macroevolutionary processes, as we contend, systematists should pay more attention to their elucidation. (shrink)
Holism and emergence are coherent notions. The paper points to the classes of emergent phenomena -- such as autocatalysis -- that are taken as commonplace phenomena in biological sciences. Thus it questions the Democritean credo, “wholes are completely determined by their parts” (in some of its forms, called mereological determinism), that has become a dogma of contemporary philosophy. A living thing requires the ability to initiate, mediate and terminate processes that produce products that make up the whole. Autocatalysis is one (...) such mechanism, and its action at the level of the whole produces effects on the parts such that the properties, manifested by the parts in the absence of the whole engaged in autocatalysis, are altered. For these reasons, some writers suggest that autocatalysis is a law of organization and that it is emergent. It also appears that this is a case of downward causation -- one that clearly occurs in nature. If this is not a case of downward causation on Kim’s terms, then biological systems that are claimed to be emergent do not need to involve downward causation in his sense. The author thinks that this constitutes downward causation in an important sense -- the causal properties of the whole drive the behavior of the parts. Another set of examples comes from chaos dynamics. Relying on this evidence, the author challenges the Democritean credo (and mereological determinism) and shifts the onus of proof. (shrink)
Cet article ne se veut pas un commentaire suivi de la réflexion de Wittgenstein sur les règles. Ce ne sera pas non plus un commentaire de l’interprétation que Kripke fait du « suivi de la règle » chez Wittgenstein. Il ne sera pas davantage une application des thèses de Wittgenstein ni une tentative d’application directe d’une interprétation de ces thèses à l’épistémologie de la simulation du vivant ; ce qui serait, en soi, d’ailleurs contestable. Ce travail vise seulement à approfondir (...) la réflexion sur le statut cognitif de la simulation informatique du vivant. À ce titre, qui est donc essentiellement épistémologique et ciblé, il se veut une suggestion d’interprétation conceptuelle de certaines formes de simulation informatique du vivant, suggestion elle-même adossée à une prolongation de certaines distinctions déjà effectuées par Wittgenstein et ses commentateurs au sujet des règles et de leur suivi. L’objectif est de chercher à voir si, par ce moyen, la simulation informatique du vivant, par contraste avec les pratiques plus traditionnelles de modélisation, ne pourrait pas être plus précisément expliquée et légitimée, dans ses apports épistémologiques, comme dans ses limites aussi. (shrink)
Recent years have seen renewed interest in the emergence issue. The contemporary debate, in contrast with that of past times, has to do not so much with the mind–body problem as with the relationship between the physical and other domains; mostly with the biological domain. One of the main sources of this renewed interest is the study of complex and, in general, far-from-equilibrium self-preserving systems, which seem to fulfil one of the necessary conditions for an entity to be emergent; namely, (...) that its causal powers are not predictable from the causal powers of basic physical properties. However, I argue that much of the current emergentism debate has misfired by focusing on the interpretation of self-maintaining systems. In contrast, I claim that if we want to find emergent properties, we should look not at complex systems, but at selection (natural selection, in particular). I argue that selection processes make the causal world ‘exuberant’ by making non-physical functional and relational properties enter the causal web of the world. (shrink)
Evo-Devo exhibits a plurality of scientific “cultures” of practice and theory. When are the cultures acting—individually or collectively—in ways that actually move research forward, empirically, theoretically, and ethically? When do they become imperialistic, in the sense of excluding and subordinating other cultures? This chapter identifies six cultures – three /styles/ (mathematical modeling, mechanism, and history) and three /paradigms/ (adaptationism, structuralism, and cladism). The key assumptions standing behind, under, or within each of these cultures are explored. Characterizing the internal structure of (...) the cultures is necessary for understanding how they collaborate or compete, and how they are fragmented or integrated, in the rich interdisciplinary /trading zone/ (Galison 1997) of Evo-Devo. Evo-Devo is an important example of how science can progress through a radical plurality of perspectives and cultures. (shrink)
A scientific explanatory project, part-whole explanation, and a kind of science, part-whole science are premised on identifying, investigating, and using parts and wholes. In the biological sciences, mechanistic, structuralist, and historical explanations are part-whole explanations. Each expresses different norms, explananda, and aims. Each is associated with a distinct partitioning frame for abstracting kinds of parts. These three explanatory projects can be complemented in order to provide an integrative vision of the whole system, as is shown for a detailed case study: (...) the tetrapod limb. My diagnosis of part-whole explanation in the biological sciences as well as in other domains exploring evolved, complex, and integrated systems (e.g., psychology and cognitive science) cross-cuts standard philosophical categories of explanation: causal explanation and explanation as unification. Part-whole explanation is itself one essential aspect of part-whole science. (shrink)