Public Lecture: Science and Metaphysics: Lessons from Microbiology

A colorized image of a biofilm

Marc Ereshefsky
Department of Philosophy, University of Calgary

Friday, February 26, 2016 3:35 pm

275 Nicholson Hall, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

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 favoured 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.

Ereshefsky 2016-02-26