The self model and the conception of biological identity in immunology

Biology and Philosophy 21 (2):235-252 (2006)
Abstract
The self/non-self model, first proposed by F.M. Burnet, has dominated immunology for 60 years now. According to this model, any foreign element will trigger an immune reaction in an organism, whereas endogenous elements will not, in normal circumstances, induce an immune reaction. In this paper we show that the self/non-self model is no longer an appropriate explanation of experimental data in immunology, and that this inadequacy may be rooted in an excessively strong metaphysical conception of biological identity. We suggest that another hypothesis, one based on the notion of continuity, gives a better account of immune phenomena. Finally, we underscore the mapping between this metaphysical deflation from self to continuity in immunology and the philosophical debate between substantialism and empiricism about identity.
Keywords Continuity  Identity  Immunology  Organism and environment  Self
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Citations of this work BETA
Neeraja Sankaran (2013). Breaking with the Self: Can Continuity in Immunology Succeed? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (2):242-246.
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