Biology and Philosophy 29 (6):851-884 (2014)

Kepa Ruiz Mirazo
University of the Basque Country
In this paper we explore the organizational conditions underlying the emergence of organisms at the multicellular level. More specifically, we shall propose a general theoretical scheme according to which a multicellular organism is an ensemble of cells that effectively regulates its own development through collective mechanisms of control of cell differentiation and cell division processes. This theoretical result derives from the detailed study of the ontogenetic development of three multicellular systems and, in particular, of their corresponding cell-to-cell signaling networks. The case study supports our claim that a specific type of functional integration among the cells of a multicellular ensemble , is required for it to qualify as a proper organism. Finally, we argue why a multicellular system exhibiting this type of functionally differentiated and integrated developmental organization becomes a self-determining collective entity and, therefore, should be considered as a second-order autonomous system
Keywords Organism  Multicellularity  Development  Regulation  Functional integration  Mechanisms  Epigenetics  Autonomy
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-013-9387-x
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References found in this work BETA

The Problem of Biological Individuality.Ellen Clarke - 2010 - Biological Theory 5 (4):312-325.
The Major Transitions in Evolution.John Maynard Smith & Eors Szathmary - 1996 - Journal of the History of Biology 29 (1):151-152.
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Citations of this work BETA

Kinds of Biological Individuals: Sortals, Projectibility, and Selection.DiFrisco James - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):845-875.
Multicellular Agency: An Organizational View.Argyris Arnellos & Alvaro Moreno - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (3):333-357.

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