David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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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|
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Citations of this work BETA
Charles T. Wolfe (2014). The Organism as Ontological Go-Between. Hybridity, Boundaries and Degrees of Reality in its Conceptual History. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 1:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shps.
Yuichi Amitani (2015). Prototypical Reasoning About Species and the Species Problem. Biological Theory 10 (4):289-300.
Henry Taylor & Peter Vickers (forthcoming). Conceptual Fragmentation and the Rise of Eliminativism. European Journal for Philosophy of Science:1-24.
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.
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