Authors
John Dupre
University of Exeter
Abstract
Metagenomics is an emerging microbial systems science that is based on the large-scale analysis of the DNA of microbial communities in their natural environments. Studies of metagenomes are revealing the vast scope of biodiversity in a wide range of environments, as well as new functional capacities of individual cells and communities, and the complex evolutionary relationships between them. Our examination of this science focuses on the ontological implications of these studies of metagenomes and metaorganisms, and what they mean for common sense and philosophical understandings of multicellularity, individuality and organism. We show how metagenomics requires us to think in different ways about what human beings are and what their relation to the microbial world is. Metagenomics could also transform the way in which evolutionary processes are understood, with the most basic relationship between cells from both similar and different organisms being far more cooperative and less antagonistic than is widely assumed. In addition to raising fundamental questions about biological ontology, metagenomics generates possibilities for powerful technologies addressed to issues of climate, health and conservation. We conclude with reflections about process-oriented versus entity-oriented analysis in light of current trends towards systems approaches
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2007.09.001
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References found in this work BETA

Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Top-Down Causation Without Top-Down Causes.Carl F. Craver & William Bechtel - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (4):547-563.
Beyond Reduction: Mechanisms, Multifield Integration and the Unity of Neuroscience.Carl F. Craver - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (2):373-395.

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Citations of this work BETA

Living Causes.John Dupré - 2013 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1):19-37.
Classificatory Theory in Data-Intensive Science: The Case of Open Biomedical Ontologies.Sabina Leonelli - 2012 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (1):47 - 65.

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