Economics, biology, and naturalism: Three problems concerning the question of individuality [Book Review]

Biology and Philosophy 12 (2):185-206 (1997)
The paper examines the ramifications of naturalism with regard to the question of individuality in economics and biology. Economic theory has to deal with whether households, firms, and states are individuals or are mere entities such as clubs, networks, and coalitions. Biological theory has to deal with the same question with regard to cells, organisms, family packs, and colonies. To wit, the question of individuality in both disciplines involves three separate problems: the metaphysical, phenomenist, and ontological. The metaphysical problem is concerned with purposeful action: Is the firm or organism exclusively the product of efficient causality (optimization) or is it motivated by final causality (purposefulness)? The phenomenist problem is interested in the substantiality of essences: Is the firm''s or organism''s scheme of institutions/traits deep or is it extraneous to identity? The ontological problem is related to the issue of reductionism: Is the behavior of lower-level organization governed by a pre-constituted entities or is it context-sensitive? The paper finds that theoretical differences run along the naturalist/anti-naturalist divide rather than along disciplinary specialization. Also, the paper finds that it is not inconsistent for the same theorist to be naturalist with regard to one problem and anti-naturalist with respect to the other two problems.
Keywords metaphysical problem (purposefulness)  phenomenist problem (essentialism)  ontological problem (reductionism)  crude naturalism  anti-naturalism
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1006595014078
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 28,165
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Are Plants Rational?Elias L. Khalil - 2010 - Biological Theory 5 (1):53-66.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
The Problem of Biological Individuality.Ellen Clarke - 2010 - Biological Theory 5 (4):312-325.
Many Entities, No Identity.Jonas R. Becker Arenhart - 2012 - Synthese 187 (2):801-812.
Nietzsche's Will to Power as Naturalist Critical Ontology.Donovan Miyasaki - 2013 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 30 (3):251-69.
Naturalism in Action.Michael Hicks - 2009 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 52 (6):609-635.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

28 ( #183,819 of 2,171,981 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #326,556 of 2,171,981 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums