Our intuitive assumption that only organisms are the real individuals in the natural world is at odds with developments in cell biology, ecology, genetics, evolutionary biology, and other fields. Although organisms have served for centuries as nature’s paradigmatic individuals, science suggests that organisms are only one of the many ways in which the natural world could be organized. When living beings work together—as in ant colonies, beehives, and bacteria-metazoan symbiosis—new collective individuals can emerge. In this book, leading scholars consider the biological and philosophical implications of the emergence of these new collective individuals from associations of living beings. The topics they consider range from metaphysical issues to biological research on natural selection, sociobiology, and symbiosis.
The contributors investigate individuality and its relationship to evolution and the specific concept of organism; the tension between group evolution and individual adaptation; and the structure of collective individuals and the extent to which they can be defined by the same concept of individuality. These new perspectives on evolved individuality should trigger important revisions to both philosophical and biological conceptions of the individual.
Frédéric Bouchard, Ellen Clarke, Jennifer Fewell, Andrew Gardner, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Charles J. Goodnight, Matt Haber, Andrew Hamilton, Philippe Huneman, Samir Okasha, Thomas Pradeu, Scott Turner, Minus van Baalen
About the Editors
Frédéric Bouchard is Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at the UniversitÈ de MontrÈal. Bouchard and Huneman (with other colleagues) founded the Consortium for the History and Philosophy of Biology.
Philippe Huneman is Research Associate (CNRS) in the Institut díHistoire et de Philosophie des Sciences et des Techniques at the UniversitÈ Paris 1 Sorbonne. Bouchard and Huneman (with other colleagues) founded the Consortium for the History and Philosophy of Biology.
“A thoroughly modern take on the timeless questions surrounding the evolution of groups and individuality—rich and rigorous, creatively contrarian, and occasionally iconoclastic.”
—Dan McShea, Duke University
“The question of biological individuality, where one individual ends and another begins, has moved rapidly in recent years, from an occasional and rather exotic question at the boundaries of the subject to the cutting edge of the philosophy of biology. This volume brings together many of the leading contributors to this development and will provide the perfect starting point for anyone interested in understanding how this question has come to be so fundamental to our understanding of living processes.”
—John Dupré, University of Exeter; author of Processes of Life: Essays in the Philosophy of Biology