Enabling conditions for 'open-ended evolution'

Biology and Philosophy 23 (1):67-85 (2008)
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In this paper we review and argue for the relevance of the concept of open-ended evolution in biological theory. Defining it as a process in which a set of chemical systems bring about an unlimited variety of equivalent systems that are not subject to any pre-determined upper bound of organizational complexity, we explain why only a special type of self-constructing, autonomous systems can actually implement it. We further argue that this capacity derives from the ‘dynamic decoupling’ (in its minimal or most basic sense: the phenotype–genotype decoupling) by means of which a radically new way of material organization (minimal living organization) is achieved, allowing for the long-term sustenance of systems whose individual-metabolic and collective-historical pathways become thereafter deeply intertwined.



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Kepa Ruiz Mirazo
University of the Basque Country