David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 21 (4):501-521 (2006)
Ultimately we will only understand biological agency when we have developed a theory of the organization of biological processes, and science is still a long way from attaining that goal. It may be possible nonetheless to develop a list of necessary conditions for the emergence of minimal biological agency. The authors offer a model of molecular autonomous agents which meets the five minimal physical conditions that are necessary (and, we believe, conjointly sufficient) for applying agential language in biology: autocatalytic reproduction; work cycles; boundaries for reproducing individuals; self-propagating work and constraint construction; and choice and action that have evolved to respond to food or poison. When combined with the arguments from preadaptation and multiple realizability, the existence of these agents is sufficient to establish ontological emergence as against what one might call Weinbergian reductionism. Minimal biological agents are emphatically not conscious agents, and accepting their existence does not commit one to any robust theory of human agency. Nor is there anything mystical, dualistic, or non-empirical about the emergence of agency in the biosphere. Hence the emergence of molecular autonomous agents, and indeed ontological emergence in general, is not a negation of or limitation on careful biological study but simply one of its implications.
|Keywords||Autocatalysis Autonomous agents Emergence Preadaptation Reductionism Theory of organization Semiotics Teleology Underdetermination of biology by physics Work cycle|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Stuart A. Kauffman (2000). Investigations. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
Stuart A. Kauffman (1993). The Origins of Order Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution. Oxford University Press.
Philip Clayton (2004). Mind and Emergence: From Quantum to Consciousness. Oxford University Press.
Jacques Monod (1971/1972). Chance and Necessity. New York,Vintage Books.
Stuart A. Kauffman (1995). At Home in the Universe the Search for Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
Citations of this work BETA
James L. Bernat (2014). Whither Brain Death? American Journal of Bioethics 14 (8):3-8.
Christopher Southgate & Andrew Robinson (2010). Interpretation and the Origin of Life. Zygon 45 (2):345-360.
Andrew Robinson & Christopher Southgate (2010). A General Definition of Interpretation and its Application to Origin of Life Research. Biology and Philosophy 25 (2):163-181.
Stuart Kauffman, Robert K. Logan, Robert Este, Randy Goebel, David Hobill & Ilya Shmulevich (2008). Propagating Organization: An Enquiry. Biology and Philosophy 23 (1):27-45.
James Barham (2012). Normativity, Agency, and Life. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):92-103.
Similar books and articles
Christian List (2011). Group Agency: The Possibility, Design, and Status of Corporate Agents. Oxford University Press.
Bruce Edmonds, Gossip, Sexual Recombination and the El Farol Bar: Modelling the Emergence of Heterogeneity.
William C. Wimsatt (1997). Aggregativity: Reductive Heuristics for Finding Emergence. Philosophy of Science 64 (4):372-84.
Beth Huffer (2007). Actions and Outcomes: Two Aspects of Agency. Synthese 157 (2):241 - 265.
Elhanan Borenstein & Eytan Ruppin (2005). The Evolutionary Link Between Mirror Neurons and Imitation: An Evolutionary Adaptive Agents Model. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (2):127-128.
Philip Clayton & P. C. W. Davies (eds.) (2006). The Re-Emergence of Emergence: The Emergentist Hypothesis From Science to Religion. Oxford University Press.
Paul Humphreys (2008). Computational and Conceptual Emergence. Philosophy of Science 75 (5):584-594.
Jack Martin (2007). Interpreting and Extending G. H. Mead's "Metaphysics" of Selfhood and Agency. Philosophical Psychology 20 (4):441 – 456.
E. Bernard-Weil (1995). Self-Organization and Emergence Are Some Irrelevant Concepts Without Their Association with the Concepts of Hetero-Organization and Immergence. Acta Biotheoretica 43 (4):351-362.
Bradford McCall (2010). Kenosis and Emergence: A Theological Synthesis. Zygon 45 (1):149-164.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads193 ( #11,144 of 1,780,099 )
Recent downloads (6 months)56 ( #14,536 of 1,780,099 )
How can I increase my downloads?