David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Synthese 185 (1):145-164 (2012)
In several disciplines within science—evolutionary biology, molecular biology, astrobiology, synthetic biology, artificial life—and outside science—primarily ethics—efforts to define life have recently multiplied. However, no consensus has emerged. In this article, I argue that this is no accident. I propose a dilemma showing that the project of defining life is either impossible or pointless. The notion of life at stake in this project is either the folk concept of life or a scientific concept. In the former case, empirical evidence shows that life cannot be defined. In the latter case, I argue that, although defining life may be possible, it is pointless. I conclude that scientists, philosophers, and ethicists should discard the project of defining life
|Keywords||Life Concept Definition Astrobiology Synthetic biology Alife Molecular biology Evolutionary biology Concepts|
|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
Nicholas Agar (1997). Biocentrism and the Concept of Life. Ethics 108 (1):147-168.
Lawrence W. Barsalou (1999). Perceptual Symbol Systems. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (4):577-660.
MA Boden (1999). Is Metabolism Necessary? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (2):231-248.
Citations of this work BETA
Emily C. Parke (2013). What Could Arsenic Bacteria Teach Us About Life? Biology and Philosophy 28 (2):205-218.
Antonio Diéguez (2013). Life as a Homeostatic Property Cluster. Biological Theory 7 (2):180-186.
Similar books and articles
Carol E. Cleland (2012). Life Without Definitions. Synthese 185 (1):125-144.
Robert T. Pennock (2012). Negotiating Boundaries in the Definition of Life: Wittgensteinian and Darwinian Insights on Resolving Conceptual Border Conflicts. [REVIEW] Synthese 185 (1):5-20.
Gerard Jagers op Akkerhuis (2011). Explaining the Origin of Life is Not Enough for a Definition of Life. Foundations of Science 16 (4):327-329.
Claus Emmeche (1991). A Semiotical Reflection on Biology, Living Signs and Artificial Life. Biology and Philosophy 6 (3):325-340.
Mark Bedau (ed.) (2010). The Nature of Life: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives From Philosophy and Science. Cambridge University Press.
Peter T. Macklem & Andrew Seely (2010). Towards a Definition of Life. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 53 (3):330-340.
Anna Deplazes-Zemp (2012). The Conception of Life in Synthetic Biology. Science and Engineering Ethics 18 (4):757-774.
Mark Bedau & Carol Cleland (eds.) (2010). The Nature of Life: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives From Philosophy and Science. Cambridge University Press.
Marc Lange (1996). Life, "Artificial Life," and Scientific Explanation. Philosophy of Science 63 (2):225-244.
Added to index2009-09-27
Total downloads94 ( #16,328 of 1,679,364 )
Recent downloads (6 months)5 ( #48,400 of 1,679,364 )
How can I increase my downloads?