David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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What should be the ontology of the world such that life and cognition are possible? In this essay, I undertake to outline an alternative ontological foundation which makes biological and cognitive phenomena possible. The foundation is built by defining a model, which is presented in the form of a description of a hypothetical but a logically possible world with a defined ontological base. Biology rests today on quite a few not so well connected foundations: molecular biology based on the genetic dogma; evolutionary biology based on neo-Darwinian model; ecology based on systems view; developmental biology by morphogenetic models; connectionist models for neurophysiology and cognitive biology; pervasive teleonomic explanations for the goal-directed behavior across the discipline; etc. Can there be an underlying connecting theme or a model which could make these seemingly disparate domains interconnected? I shall atempt to answer this question. By following the semantic view of scientific theories, I tend to believe that the models employed by the present physical sciences are not rich enough to capture biological (and some of the non-biological) systems. A richer theory that could capture biological reality could also capture physical and chemical phenomena as limiting cases, but not vice versa.
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