Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology

October 31, 2020
Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology

Analytic metaphysics has recently discovered biology as a meansof grounding metaphysical theories. This has resulted inlong-standing metaphysical puzzles, such as the problems ofpersonal identity and material constitution, being increasinglyaddressed by appeal to a biological understanding of identity. Thisdevelopment within metaphysics is in significant tension with thegrowing tendency amongst philosophers of biology to regardbiological identity as a deep puzzle in its own right, especiallyfollowing recent advances in our understanding of symbiosis, theevolution of multi-cellular organisms and the inherently dynamicalcharacter of living systems. Moreover, and building on thesebiological insights, the broadly substance ontological framework ofmetaphysical theories of biological identity appears problematic toa growing number of philosophers of biology who invoke processontology instead.This volume addresses this tension, exploring to what extent itcan be dissolved. For this purpose, the volume presents the firstselection of essays exclusively focused on biological identity andwritten by experts in metaphysics, the philosophy of biology andbiology. The resulting cross-disciplinary dialogue paves the wayfor a convincing account of biological identity that is bothmetaphysically constructive and scientifically informed, and willbe of interest to metaphysicians, philosophers of biology andtheoretical biologists.