Questions tagged [philosophy-of-biology]

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What's the difference between teleology and teleonomy?

So, Teleology is According to the Cambridge Dictionary: the belief that everything has a special purpose or use According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: a doctrine (as in vitalism) that ends ...
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Scientific stance on 'life from non-life, naturally'?

As far as I'm aware, almost everyone (from Dawkins to Lennox to Hovind) agrees that at some point in the past there was no life in our universe, and currently there is. Therefore life somehow arose ...
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Could neurodiversity factors affect individuals' ability to understand various specific abstract concepts?

Wittgenstein was a philosopher who arrived at several insightful questions (e.g. the private-language problem) but seemed to range from clueless to superstitious about transfinite set theory. Non-...
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When it may be said that a fetus is a living creature and thus has rights that may collide with his mother's rights?

I used to believe that every pregnant woman should have a right to undergo an abortion - but when contemplated over it I realized that I also think of situations where the fetus is no older than a few ...
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"All there is are cells" as a philosophical school of thought

Like atomists since Demokrit and Lucretius believe that all matter is made out of atoms, biologists since Schleiden and Schwann believe that all living matter is made out of cells. But since atomism ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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The relationship between energy and information

I read that the Inuit consider the caribou and the wolf to be complimentary parts of an inclusive, larger entity. I am curious whether it is useful to view the relationship between energy and ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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If we had the ability to make humanity less war-like, should we? [closed]

Ok, this question is about both science and philosophy, but my focus is on the latter. Let’s assume that science and technology gave humanity the ability to „re-engineer“ itself on the genetic level. ...
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is there a theory of social 'vaccination' against destructive ideologies?

One can notice certain similarities between domains of biology, in which live organisms cope with viruses sociology, where societies cope with destructive ideologies Drawing an analogy, we can ...
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4 answers
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What's the difference between "life" and "non-life"?

How is "life" objectively defined?
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Which evolutionary concepts or theories are used to either support or undermine 'perception of free will' as accurate?

NOTE: 'Free will' in this question describes an ability to have chosen otherwise, given the same circumstances. According to American Scientist, Darwin came to a belief that we had no free will 30 ...
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What are diversity partitioning and clustering analysis, applied to hominids & race? [closed]

Can anyone EMLI5 (or an undergrad) the terms diversity partitioning and clustering analysis please? From Winther paper over my head "The genetic reification of race" re: Lewontin-Edwards ...
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2 votes
5 answers
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What does 'nature' mean in Darwin's Origin of Species?

Recently, I have been reading the Origin of Species and quite a few times Darwin says that nature selects. But it seems like he is personifying nature. Could we say that nature=reality for him? And ...
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Most important modern/contemporary essays on free will

I enjoy philosophising about free will and formulating arguments as to why it cannot exist. I would like to write about my arguments so that they are relevant in today's literature, and so, I want to ...
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-1 votes
2 answers
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Does many-worlds rule out trial and error?

Suppose that the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics were true. Would that rule out trial and error as something that actually happens in reality? Let's take biology as a case study. ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
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Is Avatar Sexuality Likely to Persist in the Event of a Digitalised 'Humanity'? [closed]

The biological sexual act is vital to current human experience; it is one of our most powerful motivators and vital to the perpetuation of the species. Humans do not require a present physical partner ...
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How can one reconcile the physical view of life and the second law of thermodynamics?

Life appears to not follow the second law which states that (approximately speaking) physical systems tend towards more disorder (higher entropy). This appears to be not true with life which actively ...
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Why do people think binocular vision is advantageous in sports? [closed]

Why do people think binocular vision (visual depth perception) is advantageous in sports? Yes, it can be helpful, but what if binocular vision is an evolutionary dead end? Aren't there plenty of ...
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Differences in survivals [closed]

We, humans, claim that we survive diseases and dangers with the help of science/intelligence/brain. Intelligence and brain can be treated as something inside. Many creatures like cockroaches, ...
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Can animals follow logical rules of inference?

I've been trying to recall a thought experiment, which I very vaguely remember to have come across either in Davidson or Dennett, that considers the following scenario: A hound is chasing its quarry ...
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-1 votes
2 answers
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Definition of a "sense"

Besides the five basic senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch) there is also, for example, the sense of balance. While it may seem that this one is not really about perceiving the external world ...
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Do HeLa cells prove immortality?

Does modern science, especially HeLa cells, prove that immortality (in the classic sense) is real (for these cells) or possible in the future?
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How influential was "galvanism" on philosophy, and was it rightfully so?

I'm currently reading F. W. Schelling's "First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature". Schelling, a late 18th-early 19th century philosopher, was very well-informed about contemporary ...
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Is life a logical consequence of matter reacting to other matter within an endless reoccuring of ‘life-friendly’ natural conditions? [closed]

In other words, is life bound to originate in any environment that provides the life-supporting conditions over a longer period? Like temperatures, the tides (thus a tide regulating moon), a solid ...
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Is Aristotle's "Animal Soul" the immune system?

According to Aristotle, the soul is the substantial form of the body. As such, it is the principle that unifies the various parts of the body and maintains this unity. The immune system also seems ...
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On Darwin's Deduction

The following is from Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, Volume 1 [Cambridge University Press, digitally printed version 2009, p. 31.] The bearing of the three ...
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Is Frankenstein's monster tantamount to positive proof in Science?

Specifically Biology presents some problems for me. For instance, now that we have Evolution we know what to look for. Thus we are bound to observe some adaptations, and over time even new species. ...
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9 answers
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Where is the line drawn on cheating Darwin/genetics? How does one accept this? [closed]

It is stated that cosmetic surgery is cheating genetics if the end result is aimed at increasing one's physical attraction and thus ultimately affecting natural selection in this person's favor. But ...
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12 votes
4 answers
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Did Charles Darwin say anything on why life was formed in the first place? [closed]

To be viewed from the perspective of epistemology and/or the philosophy of science. Preamble: Darwin, like scientists of his day, often spoke of “Laws” that inevitably cycle forth the results ...
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Dawkins' gene-centered view on personal identity

Looking at the following quote by Richard Dawkins: We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential ...
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4 votes
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Is our "meaning of life" fundamentally different from that of other animals?

Whatever the "meaning of life" may be (I interpret "meaning" as "purpose" here) is for us, Homo Sapiens, do we assume the "meaning of life" for humans differs fundamentally from the "meaning of life" ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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What is the philosophical use of the noosphere?

I understand that lately the new concept coined by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin has gained some popularity, and it's definition (according to Wikipedia) is: The noosphere is the sphere of human ...
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2 answers
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How does the idea of “biological imperative” relate to species and members of species?

I suspect a biological imperative describes something that every member of a species has to do or have to survive to keep the species going. If we talk about a biological imperative with respect to ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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When should a human be declared dead?

This has a biological element to it, so I have also asked it on Biology SE, but there is an interesting philosophical element as well. What is it that makes us 'alive'? Our heart beat? Our brain ...
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On which level of scientific disciplines can we effectively identify characteristics of life?

An egg is fertilized and begins to divide forming an embryo which continues to develop into a fetus. Beneath that level of development the egg is comprised of molecules which are in turn comprised of ...
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5 votes
11 answers
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Philosophy and the question 'When is a robot considered alive and thinking?'

I originally posted this question in Robotics Stack Exchange, but it was deemed off-topic there and it was recommended I post here: I was watching a youtube video of a robot: https://www.youtube.com/...
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Gaia and entelechy?

James Lovelock controversially proposed the Gaia hypothesis in the 1970s which outraged certain sensibilities because of its implicit teleology (I recall being outraged by it when I read about it ...
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4 votes
2 answers
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Does agency always imply choice?

I am a biologist but have strong interests in the most fundamental questions of Life, so I had to educate quite a bit on philosophy to be able to delve into them. One of the concepts I had to become ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Descartes' views on species

What were Descartes' views on species? Did he ever say something about this subject? Was it more like the Aristotelian conception of immutable “groups” (without the metaphysical Aristotelian concept ...
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What are the phylosophical implications of the definitions of life? [closed]

What are the philosophical implications of having life defined somehow? How can our worldview be affected by the definition of life we accept?
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1 answer
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Does Aristotle's flawed biology doom his metaphysics?

Natural kinds are secondary substances for Aristotle and so a fundamental feature of reality. Yet these natural kinds are most importantly (and as far as I know, exclusively!) biological species. I ...
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9 votes
5 answers
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Is there a philosophical conception of not necessarily biological life?

Biologists usually think of life in terms of the ability of a system to harness energy from the environment to grow and to reproduce. However in Stanislav Lem's book 'Solaris' there is a vivid ...
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2 answers
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Are Dawkins and Dennett more Sci-Fi than Science? [closed]

We hear much talk today about "consciousness explained" or the "selfish gene." These have become fashionable pop culture scientific explanations of the implications of human evolution from Daniel ...
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Why is the line between philosophy and science unimportant for philosophy?

Source: p 87, Philosophy ; A Very Short Introduction (2002) by Edward Craig. Charles Darwin: The Origin of Species   The first thing we can learn from this fascinating book is not to bother too much ...
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5 answers
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What are the problems with Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN)?

Alvin Plantinga's formulation of the argument is here. I'll try to summarize it as I understand it. Naturalistic evolution selects for traits that tend to lead to survival. Some true beliefs about ...
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3 votes
4 answers
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Is the existence or not of extraterrestrial life a philosophical question?

Watching the movie "Contact" and I couldn't help but wonder: What's the philosophical status of the question of the existence of extraterrestrial? Is it taken seriously? Has any notable philosopher ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Which branch of philosophy (metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, etc...? ) does the question of properly defining life fall under?

Questions like: - Are viruses forms of life, or just very complex replicators? - Would a Von Neumann machine be considered alive? - Does life have to be organic? - Is reproduction a necessary ...
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4 votes
5 answers
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Must consciousness display intentionality?

Husserl affirmed intentionality as characteristic of consciousness. If matter can be conscious, as in Lucretious atoms of anima, and in Tegmarks baroque but physicalist constructions; must matter, to ...
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4 votes
3 answers
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How can we defend conservation on a species level?

Background Many conservation measures in environmental biology such as the IUCN red list or measures against invasive species are done on the level of species rather than on the level of individuals. ...
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4 votes
11 answers
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Why do living things want to keep living? [closed]

Why is it necessary to survive ? Every living thing, every single living thing on earth evolves in a way to survive, actually if it wasn't for this motive of survival, no living thing would actually ...
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3 answers
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Are memes philosophically coherent?

Dawkins introduced the term meme as the corresponding cultural analogy to that of gene in biology. But is it specious? How does meme differ from belief, idea or notion? A gene is defined ...
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