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Ontological Butchery: Organism Concepts and Biological Generalizations

Jack A. Wilson
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 67, Supplement. Proceedings of the 1998 Biennial Meetings of the Philosophy of Science Association. Part II: Symposia Papers (Sep., 2000), pp. S301-S311
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/188676
Page Count: 11
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Ontological Butchery: Organism Concepts and Biological Generalizations
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Abstract

Biology lacks a central organism concept that unambiguously marks the distinction between organism and non-organism because the most important questions about organisms do not depend on this concept. I argue that the two main ways to discover useful biological generalizations about multicellular organization--the study of homology within multicellular lineages and of convergent evolution across lineages in which multicellularity has been independently established--do not require what would have to be a stipulative sharpening of an organism concept.

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