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Kaiser, Marie I.

Biological Parts


ISBN: 978-3-88405-577-9

Price: €9.80 (including 19 % tax)


The view that the living world is divided into part-whole hierarchies can already be found in ancient philosophy (cf. Aristoteles’ De partibus animalium) and it is deeply embedded in the biological sciences. Biologists represent objects as being constituted by a certain collection of organised parts. For example, cells are said to consist of a cell membrane that surrounds the cytoplasm that contains various organelles. Assumptions about partwhole relations are involved in classifications of biological objects into kinds (e.g., the assumption that fish have gills, whereas mammals have lungs). Furthermore, the methodological principle that one can understand the behavior of a biological object by decomposing it into its parts remains important for generating knowledge in the biological sciences (Bechtel/ Richardson 2010).  Despite this ubiquity and importance of part-whole relations to biology, the philosophical question of what it means for an object X to be a biological part of another object Y is ...


 


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