David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Biology and Philosophy 24 (4):623-641 (2010)
One of intuitions driving the acceptance of a neat structured tree of life is the assumption that organisms and the lineages they form have somewhat stable spatial and temporal boundaries. The phenomenon of symbiosis shows us that such ‘fixist’ assumptions does not correspond to how the natural world actually works. The implications of lateral gene transfer (LGT) have been discussed elsewhere; I wish to stress a related point. I will focus on lateral function transfer (LFT) and will argue, using examples of what many would call ‘superorganisms’, that the emergence of symbiotic individuals revives the importance of functional and adaptationist thinking in how we conceptualize the lineages of biological individuals. The consequence of the argument is that, if we really want to hold onto tree of life thinking, we had better accept that new saplings appear and disappear all the time.
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Citations of this work BETA
Eric Bapteste & John Dupré (2013). Towards a Processual Microbial Ontology. Biology and Philosophy 28 (2):379-404.
Philippe Huneman (2014). Individuality as a Theoretical Scheme. I. Formal and Material Concepts of Individuality. Biological Theory 9 (4):361-373.
Frédéric Bouchard (2011). Darwinism Without Populations: A More Inclusive Understanding of the “Survival of the Fittest”. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (1):106-114.
Minus van Baalen & Philippe Huneman (2014). Organisms as Ecosystems/Ecosystems as Organisms. Biological Theory 9 (4):357-360.
Frédéric Bouchard (2014). Ecosystem Evolution is About Variation and Persistence, Not Populations and Reproduction. Biological Theory 9 (4):382-391.
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