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A processual perspective on biology

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We tend to talk about living systems as if they consisted of a hierarchy of things (molecules, cells, organisms…) But it is also clear that these entities are more accurately conceived as processes, and their relative stability is maintained by a host of subprocesses. Though this is not in itself especially controversial, it is less often noticed that it has important consequences. It presents serious problems, for instance, for the new mechanism that has recently become very popular among philosophers of the life sciences. More speculatively, I suggest that the substance ontology that has dominated scientific thinking since the seventeenth century has become an obstacle to thinking about biology.

This talk is part of the CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) seminar series.

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