Structural Powers and the Homeodynamic Unity of Organisms

In William M. R. Simpson, Robert C. Koons & Nicholas J. Teh (eds.), Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Contemporary Science. Routledge. pp. 169-184 (2017)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Although they are continually compositionally reconstituted and reconfigured, organisms nonetheless persist as ontologically unified beings over time – but in virtue of what? A common answer is: in virtue of their continued possession of the capacity for morphological invariance which persists through, and in spite of, their mereological alteration. While we acknowledge that organisms‟ capacity for the “stability of form” – homeostasis - is an important aspect of their diachronic unity, we argue that this capacity is derived from, and grounded in a more primitive one – namely, the homeodynamic capacity for the “specified variation of form”. In introducing a novel type of causal power – a „structural power‟ – we claim that it is the persistence of their dynamic potential to produce a specified series of structurally adaptive morphologies which grounds organisms‟ privileged status as metaphysically “one over many” over time.



External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Diachronic and synchronic unity.Oliver Rashbrook - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (2):465-484.
St. Thomas Aquinas on Properties and the Powers of the Soul.Richard W. Field - 1984 - Laval Théologique et Philosophique 40 (2):203-215.
Reid on Leibniz’s Monad and the Conceptual Priority of the Whole.Tamar Levanon - 2017 - International Philosophical Quarterly 57 (1):81-95.
Diachronic Structural Rationality.Luca Ferrero - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (3):311-336.
What Organisms Once Were and Might Yet Be.Christopher Shields - 2017 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 9 (7).
Is Powerful Causation an Internal Relation?David Yates - 2016 - In Anna Marmodoro & David Yates (eds.), The Metaphysics of Relations. Oxford University Press. pp. 138-156.
Causal powers: A neo-aristotelian metaphysic.Jonathan D. Jacobs - 2007 - Dissertation, Indiana University
Humean dispositionalism.Toby Handfield - 2008 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (1):113-126.


Added to PP

1,176 (#6,368)

6 months
46 (#38,427)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Christopher J. Austin
Durham University
Anna Marmodoro
Durham University

Citations of this work

Power-ing up neo-aristotelian natural goodness.Ben Page - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (11):3755-3775.
Organisms, activity, and being: on the substance of process ontology.Christopher J. Austin - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (2):1-21.
From potency to act: hyloenergeism.Jeremy W. Skrzypek - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 11):2691-2716.
Aristotle's Ontology of Change.Mark Sentesy - 2020 - Chicago, IL, USA: Northwestern University Press.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations