Synthese 194 (4):1089-1114 (2017)
AbstractThis paper argues that biological organisation can be legitimately conceived of as an intrinsically teleological causal regime. The core of the argument consists in establishing a connection between organisation and teleology through the concept of self-determination: biological organisation determines itself in the sense that the effects of its activity contribute to determine its own conditions of existence. We suggest that not any kind of circular regime realises self-determination, which should be specifically understood as self-constraint: in biological systems, in particular, self-constraint takes the form of closure, i.e. a network of mutually dependent constitutive constraints. We then explore the occurrence of intrinsic teleology in the biological domain and beyond. On the one hand, the organisational account might possibly concede that supra-organismal biological systems could realise closure, and hence be teleological. On the other hand, the realisation of closure beyond the biological realm appears to be highly unlikely. In turn, the occurrence of simpler forms of self-determination remains a controversial issue, in particular with respect to the case of self-organising dissipative systems.
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References found in this work
Biological Autonomy: A Philosophical and Theoretical Enquiry.Alvaro Moreno & Matteo Mossio - 2015 - Springer.
Citations of this work
Mechanism, Autonomy and Biological Explanation.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (6):1-27.
An Organisational Approach to Biological Communication.Ramiro Frick, Leonardo Bich & Alvaro Moreno - 2019 - Acta Biotheoretica (2):103-128.
The Role of Regulation in the Origin and Synthetic Modelling of Minimal Cognition.Leonardo Bich & Alvaro Moreno - 2016 - Biosystems 148:12-21.
Two Directions for Teleology: Naturalism and Idealism.Andrew Cooper - 2018 - Synthese 195 (7):3097-3119.
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