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Profile: Christophe Malaterre (Université du Québec à Montreal)
  1. Christophe Malaterre, Downward Causation in Cancer Research: The Experimental Evidence?
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  2. Christophe Malaterre (2013). Microbial Diversity and the “Lower-Limit” Problem of Biodiversity. Biology and Philosophy 28 (2):219-239.
    Science is now studying biodiversity on a massive scale. These studies are occurring not just at the scale of larger plants and animals, but also at the scale of minute entities such as bacteria and viruses. This expansion has led to the development of a specific sub-field of “microbial diversity”. In this paper, I investigate how microbial diversity faces two of the classical issues encountered by the concept of “biodiversity”: the issues of defining the units of biodiversity and of choosing (...)
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  3. Christophe Malaterre (2013). Synthetic Biology and Synthetic Knowledge. Biological Theory (8):346–356.
    Probably the most distinctive feature of synthetic biology is its being “synthetic” in some sense or another. For some, synthesis plays a unique role in the production of knowledge that is most distinct from that played by analysis: it is claimed to deliver knowledge that would otherwise not be attained. In this contribution, my aim is to explore how synthetic biology delivers knowledge via synthesis, and to assess the extent to which this knowledge is distinctly synthetic. On the basis of (...)
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  4. Christophe Malaterre (2012). (Book Review) What Is Life? The Intellectual Pertinence of Erwin Schrödinger. [REVIEW] International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (2):229-231.
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  5. Christophe Malaterre (2011). Making Sense of Downward Causation in Manipulationism (with Illustrations From Cancer Research). History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences (33):537-562.
    Many researchers consider cancer to have molecular causes, namely mutated genes that result in abnormal cell proliferation (e.g. Weinberg 1998). For others, the causes of cancer are to be found not at the molecular level but at the tissue level where carcinogenesis consists of disrupted tissue organization with downward causation effects on cells and cellular components (e.g. Sonnenschein and Soto 2008). In this contribution, I ponder how to make sense of such downward causation claims. Adopting a manipulationist account of causation (...)
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  6. Christophe Malaterre, On the Many Processes of Chemical Evolution.
    The notion of chemical evolution is controversially defined in reference to Darwinian evolution: for some, it is nothing but natural selection applied to chemical systems; yet, for others, it is precisely what happened before natural selection, the latter being the birthmark of life. Taking into account a plurality of evolutionary processes, I propose to construe chemical evolution as a composite theory within which natural selection might only be one of several evolutionary processes.
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  7. Christophe Malaterre, Physicalism.
    Physicalism is the metaphysical thesis that everything is physical. According to this thesis, everything in the world, including chemical, biological, mental, and social entities and processes, is constituted by or results from physical entities and processes. In analytic philosophy, one might say that physicalism is the claim that everything supervenes on, or is necessitated by, the physical.
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  8. Jean Gayon, Christophe Malaterre, Michel Morange, Florence Raulin-Cerceau & Stéphane Tirard, Defining Life.
    This Special Issue of Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres contains papers based on the contributions presented at the Conference "Defining Life" held in Paris (France) on 4-5 February, 2008. The main objective of this Conference was to confront speakers from several disciplines--chemists, biochemists, biologists, exo/astrobiologists, computer scientists, philosophers and historians of science--on the topic of the definition of life. Different viewpoints of the problem approached from different perspectives have been expounded and, as a result, common grounds as well (...)
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  9. Christophe Malaterre (2010). Les origines de la vie : émergence ou explication réductive ? Hermann.
    La vie est-elle un phénomène émergent ? Traduit-elle l'apparition de propriétés nouvelles au niveau d'un tout, qui seraient irréductibles aux propriétés et à l'organisation des composants de ce tout, ou encore imprédictibles à partir de ces mêmes éléments ? Développées à la charnière des XIXe et XXe siècles comme alternative aux deux approches antinomiques du vivant que sont le vitalisme et le mécanisme, la notion philosophique d'émergence connait aujourd'hui de nouveaux développements : avec la prise de conscience de la complexité (...)
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  10. Christophe Malaterre (2010). Lifeness Signatures and the Roots of the Tree of Life. Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):643-658.
    Do trees of life have roots? What do these roots look like? In this contribution, I argue that research on the origins of life might offer glimpses on the topology of these very roots. More specifically, I argue (1) that the roots of the tree of life go well below the level of the commonly mentioned ‘ancestral organisms’ down into the level of much simpler, minimally living entities that might be referred to as ‘protoliving systems’, and (2) that further below, (...)
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  11. Christophe Malaterre (2010). On What It is to Fly Can Tell Us Something About What It is to Live. Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres 40 (2):169-177.
    The plurality of definitions of life is often perceived as an unsatisfying situation stemming from still incomplete knowledge about ‘what it is to live’ as well as from the existence of a variety of methods for reaching a definition. For many, such plurality is to be remedied and the search for a unique and fully satisfactory definition of life pursued. In this contribution on the contrary, it is argued that the existence of such a variety of definitions of life undermines (...)
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  12. Christophe Malaterre, When Does Chemical Evolution Becomes Biological.
  13. Christophe Malaterre (2009). Are Self-Organizing Biochemical Networks Emergent? In Maryvonne Gérin & Marie-Christine Maurel (eds.), Origins of Life: Self-Organization and/or Biological Evolution? EDP Sciences. 117--123.
    Biochemical networks are often called upon to illustrate emergent properties of living systems. In this contribution, I question such emergentist claims by means of theoretical work on genetic regulatory models and random Boolean networks. If the existence of a critical connectivity Kc of such networks has often been coined “emergent” or “irreducible”, I propose on the contrary that the existence of a critical connectivity Kc is indeed mathematically explainable in network theory. This conclusion also applies to many other types of (...)
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  14. Christophe Malaterre (2009). Can Synthetic Biology Shed Light on the Origin of Life? Biological Theory 4 (4):357-367.
    It is a most commonly accepted hypothesis that life originated from inanimate matter, somehow being a synthetic product of organic aggregates, and as such, a result of some sort of prebiotic synthetic biology. In the past decades, the newly formed scientific discipline of synthetic biology has set ambitious goals by pursuing the complete design and production of genetic circuits, entire genomes or even whole organisms. In this paper, I argue that synthetic biology might also shed some novel and interesting perspectives (...)
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  15. Christophe Malaterre (2007). Organicism and Reductionism in Cancer Research: Towards a Systemic Approach. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (1):57 – 73.
    In recent cancer research, strong and apparently conflicting epistemological stances have been advocated by different research teams in a mist of an ever-growing body of knowledge ignited by ever-more perplexing and non-conclusive experimental facts: in the past few years, an 'organicist' approach investigating cancer development at the tissue level has challenged the established and so-called 'reductionist' approach focusing on disentangling the genetic and molecular circuitry of carcinogenesis. This article reviews the ways in which 'organicism' and 'reductionism' are used and opposed (...)
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