Four puzzles about life

Abstract

To surmount the notorious difficulties of defining life, we should evaluate theories of life not by whether they provide necessary and sufficient conditions for our current preconceptions about life but by how well they explain living phenomena and how satisfactorily they resolve puzzles about life. On these grounds, the theory of life as supple adaptation (Bedau 1996) gets support from its natural and compelling resolutions of the following four puzzles: (1) How are different forms of life at different levels of the vital hierarchy related? (2) Is there a continuum between life and non-life? (3) Does life essentially concern a living entity’s material composition or its form? (4) Are life and mind intrinsically connected?

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