University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Friday, February 26th 2016
Speaker: Marc Ereshefsky, Department of Philosophy, University of Calgary
Subject: Science and Metaphysics: Lessons from Microbiology
Refreshments served at 3:15 p.m.

The typical view of biological individuality is that such individuals have parents from one species and start life as single zygotes. However, recent work on microbial consortia challenges this view. The lesson from microbiology is not merely that we have been wrong about our favored account of individuality, but that we have been wrong to assume that there is one correct theory of individuality. Given the contingent nature of evolution we should expect a plurality of kinds of individuality. When we answer the question ‘What is a biological individual?’ with a plurality of accounts, we are more successful than we think.

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