University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

History of Science and Technology/Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science Colloquium

Friday, December 11th 2009
Speaker: David Queller, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Rice University
Subject: What Is an Organism?
Refreshments served in Room 216 Physics at 3:15 p.m.

Cosponsored by the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science and the Conceptual Foundations of Evolutionary Biology Interdisciplinary Graduate Group.The organism is the fundamental unit of life and yet there is surprisingly little debate, and even less agreement, about what it is. Following on the realization that new levels of organisms have evolved from groups of lower-level organisms, we propose a social definition. An organism is a biological entity that has very high cooperation among its parts, and very little conflict, and is thus the locus of adaptation. We explore the implications of this view for what we consider to be organisms, and argue its advantages relative to earlier views.

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