Biology and Philosophy 37 (2):1-32 (2022)

Jonathan Sholl
Université de Bordeaux
While philosophers of science have marginally discussed concepts such as ‘nutrient’, ‘naturalness’, ‘food’, or the ‘molecularization’ of nutrition, they have yet to seriously engage with the nutrition sciences. In this paper, I offer one way to begin this engagement by investigating conceptual challenges facing the burgeoning field of nutritional ecology and the question of how organisms construct a ‘balanced’ diet. To provide clarity, I propose the distinction between nutrient balance as a property of foods or dietary patterns and nutrient balancing as an evolved capacity to regulate nutrient intake. This distinction raises conceptual and empirical issues, such as what properties constitute this capacity and whether they are the same in all organisms. Additionally, while scientists use the term ‘balancing’, its intension and extension need further clarification. Based on the literature, the properties of external nutrient detection, internal sensing of nutrient levels, and organismal regulation could provide a basic recipe for nutrient balancing. Next, using an evolutionary lens, I examine nutrient acquisition in some prokaryotes, slime molds, simple multicellular eukaryotes, and in the quirks of multicellular metabolism to raise questions about the origins and universality of balancing. Finally, I build on this explication of balance and balancing by considering how obesity and cancer might respectively elucidate problems of organismal nutrient imbalances versus disrupted cellular nutrient balancing.
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-022-09845-2
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Logical Foundations of Probability.Rudolf Carnap - 1950 - Chicago, IL, USA: Chicago University of Chicago Press.
The Logical Foundations of Probability.Rudolf Carnap - 1950 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (13):362-364.

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