Biological Individuality: Integrating Scientific, Philosophical, And Historical Perspectives

Paperback | June 13, 2017

EditorScott Lidgard, Lynn K. Nyhart

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Individuals are things that everybody knows—or thinks they do. Yet even scholars who practice or analyze the biological sciences often cannot agree on what an individual is and why. One reason for this disagreement is that the many important biological individuality concepts serve very different purposes—defining, classifying, or explaining living structure, function, interaction, persistence, or evolution. Indeed, as the contributors to Biological Individuality reveal, nature is too messy for simple definitions of this concept, organisms too quirky in the diverse ways they reproduce, function, and interact, and human ideas about individuality too fraught with philosophical and historical meaning.

Bringing together biologists, historians, and philosophers, this book provides a multifaceted exploration of biological individuality that identifies leading and less familiar perceptions of individuality both past and present, what they are good for, and in what contexts. Biological practice and theory recognize individuals at myriad levels of organization, from genes to organisms to symbiotic systems. We depend on these notions of individuality to address theoretical questions about multilevel natural selection and Darwinian fitness; to illuminate empirical questions about development, function, and ecology; to ground philosophical questions about the nature of organisms and causation; and to probe historical and cultural circumstances that resonate with parallel questions about the nature of society. Charting an interdisciplinary research agenda that broadens the frameworks in which biological individuality is discussed, this book makes clear that in the realm of the individual, there is not and should not be a direct path from biological paradigms based on model organisms through to philosophical generalization and historical reification.

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Individuals are things that everybody knows—or thinks they do. Yet even scholars who practice or analyze the biological sciences often cannot agree on what an individual is and why. One reason for this disagreement is that the many important biological individuality concepts serve very different purposes—defining, classifying, or expla...

Scott Lidgard is the MacArthur Associate Curator of Fossil Invertebrates in the Integrative Research Center at the Field Museum, Chicago, and a lecturer in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago. He is coeditor of Evolutionary Patterns: Growth, Form and Tempo in the Fossil Record, also published by the Unive...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:June 13, 2017Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022644645X

ISBN - 13:9780226446455

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Working Together on Individuality
Lynn K. Nyhart and Scott Lidgard

l The Work of Biological Individuality: Concepts and Contexts
Scott Lidgard and Lynn K. Nyhart

2 Cells, Colonies, and Clones: Individuality in the Volvocine Algae
Matthew D. Herron

3 Individuality and the Control of Life Cycles
Beckett Sterner

4  Discovering the Ties That Bind: Cell-Cell Communication and the Development of Cell Sociology
Andrew S. Reynolds

5 Alternation of Generations and Individuality, 1851
Lynn K. Nyhart and Scott Lidgard

6 Spencer’s Evolutionary Entanglement: From Liminal Individuals to Implicit Collectivities
Snait Gissis

7 Biological Individuality and Enkapsis: From Martin Heidenhain’s Synthesiology to the Völkisch National Community
Olivier Rieppel

8 Parasitology, Zoology, and Society in France, ca. 1880–1920
Michael A. Osborne

9 Metabolism, Autonomy, and Individuality
Hannah Landecker

10 Bodily Parts in the Structure-Function Dialectic
Ingo Brigandt
Commentaries: Historical, Biological, and Philosophical Perspectives

11 Distrust That Particular Intuition: Resilient Essentialisms and Empirical Challenges in the History of Biological Individuality
James Elwick

12 Biological Individuality: A Relational Reading
Scott F. Gilbert

13 Philosophical Dimensions of Individuality
Alan C. Love and Ingo Brigandt

Acknowledgments
List of Contributors
Index