Wholes that cause their parts: Organic self-reproduction and the reality of biological teleology

A well-rehearsed move among teleological realists in the philosophy of biology is to base the idea of genuinely teleological forms of organic self-reproduction on a type of causality derived from Kant. Teleological realists have long argued for the causal possibility of this form of causality—in which a whole is considered the cause of its parts—as well as formulated a set of teleological criteria of adequacy for it. What is missing, to date, is an account of the mereological principles that govern the envisioned whole-to-part causality. When the latter principles are taken into account, we find that there is no version of whole-to-part causality that is mereologically, causally and teleologically possible all at once, as teleological realism requires
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2010.12.002
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Theodore Sider (2007). Parthood. Philosophical Review 116 (1):51-91.
Jaegwon Kim (1999). Making Sense of Emergence. Philosophical Studies 95 (1-2):3-36.
Achille C. Varzi (2014). Mereology. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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