David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Biology and Philosophy 28 (2):205-218 (2013)
In this paper, I discuss the recent discovery of alleged arsenic bacteria in Mono Lake, California, and the ensuing debate in the scientific community about the validity and significance of these results. By situating this case in the broader context of projects that search for anomalous life forms, I examine the methodology and upshots of challenging biochemical constraints on living things. I distinguish between a narrower and a broader sense in which we might challenge or change our knowledge of life as the result of such a project, and discuss two different kinds of projects that differ in their potential to overhaul our knowledge of life. I argue that the arsenic bacteria case, while potentially illuminating, is the kind of constraint-challenging project that could not—in spite of what was said when it was presented to the public—change our knowledge of life in the deeper sense
|Keywords||Arsenic bacteria Life Weird life Biochemical constraints Origin of life|
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References found in this work BETA
Mark Bedau (ed.) (2010). The Nature of Life: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives From Philosophy and Science. Cambridge University Press.
Mark A. Bedau (2012). A Functional Account of Degrees of Minimal Chemical Life. Synthese 185 (1):73-88.
Carol E. Cleland (2007). Epistemological Issues in the Study of Microbial Life: Alternative Terran Biospheres? Stud. Hist. Phil. Biol. And Biomed. Sci 38 (4):847-61.
Carol E. Cleland (2012). Life Without Definitions. Synthese 185 (1):125-144.
Citations of this work BETA
Maureen A. O'Malley (2013). Philosophy and the Microbe: A Balancing Act. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 28 (2):153-159.
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