A Manifesto for a Processual Philosophy of Biology

In Daniel J. Nicholson & John A. Dupre (eds.), Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology (2018)
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Abstract

This chapter argues that scientific and philosophical progress in our understanding of the living world requires that we abandon a metaphysics of things in favour of one centred on processes. We identify three main empirical motivations for adopting a process ontology in biology: metabolic turnover, life cycles, and ecological interdependence. We show how taking a processual stance in the philosophy of biology enables us to ground existing critiques of essentialism, reductionism, and mechanicism, all of which have traditionally been associated with substance ontology. We illustrate the consequences of embracing an ontology of processes in biology by considering some of its implications for physiology, genetics, evolution, and medicine. And we attempt to locate the subsequent chapters of the book in relation to the position we defend.

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Author Profiles

John Dupre
University of Exeter
Daniel J. Nicholson
George Mason University