Acta Biotheoretica 51 (2):101-140 (2003)

Living organisms are currently most often seen as complex dynamical systems that develop and evolve in relation to complex environments. Reflections on the meaning of the complex dynamical nature of living systems show an overwhelming multiplicity in approaches, descriptions, definitions and methodologies. Instead of sustaining an epistemic pluralism, which often functions as a philosophical armistice in which tolerance and so-called neutrality discharge proponents of the burden to clarify the sources and conditions of agreement and disagreement, this paper aims at analysing: (i) what has been Kant's original conceptualisation of living organisms as natural purposes; (ii) how the current perspectives are to be related to Kant's viewpoint; (iii) what are the main trends in current complexity thinking. One of the basic ideas is that the attention for structure and its epistemological consequences witness to a great extent of Kant's viewpoint, and that the idea of organisational stratification today constitutes a different breeding ground within which complexity issues are raised. The various approaches of complexity in biological systems are captured in terms of two different styles, universalism and (weak and strong) constructivism, between which hybrid forms exist.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy of Biology   Evolutionary Biology
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1024591510688
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,290
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

Supervenience and Reduction in Biological Hierarchies.John Collier - 1988 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 14:209.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Again, What the Philosophy of Biology is Not.Werner Callebaut - 2005 - Acta Biotheoretica 53 (2):93-122.
Metaphysical Presuppositions and Scientific Practices: Reductionism and Organicism in Cancer Research.James A. Marcum - 2005 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 19 (1):31 – 45.
Kant and Naturalism Reconsidered.John H. Zammito - 2008 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 51 (5):532 – 558.
Downward Determination.Charbel Niño El-Hani - 2005 - Abstracta 1 (2):162-192.

View all 10 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
36 ( #318,116 of 2,519,267 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #407,861 of 2,519,267 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes