What Biofilms Can Teach Us about Individuality

Marc Ereshefsky and Makmiller Pedroso

in Individuals Across the Sciences

Published in print December 2015 | ISBN: 9780199382514
Published online November 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780199382538 | DOI:
What Biofilms Can Teach Us about Individuality

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This chapter uses the example of biofilms to examine Hull’s and Godfrey-Smith’s accounts of biological individuality and to explore the nature of individuality more generally. The case of biofilms shows that Godfrey-Smith’s account of biological individuality is too restrictive, while Hull’s interactor account is appropriately inclusive. The chapter then augments Hull’s account in three ways. First, Hull’s notion of interactor is embedded in a general theory of individuality that applies to individuals both inside and outside of biology. Second, the sort of interaction required of the parts of an individual is explored and elaborated. Third, Hull’s commitment to replicator theory is dropped and Griesemer’s account of reproducers is adopted. In brief, this chapter offers an interactor account of biological individuality within a more general theory of individuality.

Keywords: individual; individuality; biofilm; interactor; natural selection; reproducer

Chapter.  7938 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Metaphysics

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