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La gerarchia di individui biologici : problemi ontologici ed epistemologici

Abstract : One of the main problems related to the definition of individuality in biology is how to account for the hierarchical structure of nature, which has been prominently emphasized in evolutionary theory (Dobzhansky 1937; Eldredge 1985; Mayr 1963; Liebermann, Vrba 1995). Nowadays, works in several areas validate a hierarchical approach to the study of biological individuality: the debate on the units of selection, for example, springs from the idea that hierarchy is the product of evolution by natural selection. Moreover, studies on major evolutionary transitions inquiry why selection at lower levels does not disrupt integration at higher levels (Maynard Smith, Szathmary 1995). Finally, the hierarchy theory (Gould, Vrba 1986) proposes a new formulation of the Darwinian theory, ln order to overcome reductionism. Moreover, nowadays cancer, thanks to its analysis from a multi-level perspective, is increasingly considered as a pathology linked to the tissue organization more then to the cell regulation (Sonnenschein, Soto 1999). ln effect, cancer was originally considered to be a deregulation of the normal growing program of the cell. Exploring the notion of hierarchy and levels of individuals in biology has epistemological and ontological consequences. First of all, from an epistemological point of view we have to understand whether complexity is the necessary outcome of natural selection. Another problem is to understand why selection at lower levels does not disrupt integration at higher levels (Maynard Smith, Szathmary 1995, Calcott Sterelny 2011 ). A paradigmatic case in which integration between lower and higher levels is lost is cancer, in which selection acting on cells destroys tissue and organism organisation (Nowell 1976, Okasha 2006). This pathological case seems to show that biological individuals have a hierarchical organization ln which the identity of parts depends both on their interactions and on higher-level effects. Therefore, relations among levels are crucial: we need a relational ontology of levers· (Bertolaso 2013, 2016), which will allow understanding how each level ls the result of relations among underlying parts. Then, from an ontological point of view, the problem we face today in defining the most fundamental level in biological hierarchy is the same of the old metaphysical problem of defining parts and wholes. This is an ontological concern: asking what makes of an aggregate a real individual The aim of this dissertation ls to show that a definition of individual as functional unit gives reason of the hierarchical organization of living beings: it allows a contextual analysis of the individual (Goodnight). Through such a definition, we can overcome reductionism without supporting a naif pluralism.
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Submitted on : Thursday, October 25, 2018 - 3:13:58 PM
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Anna Maria Dieli. La gerarchia di individui biologici : problemi ontologici ed epistemologici. Philosophy. Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I; Università degli studi di Roma "Tor Vergata" (1972-..), 2018. Italian. ⟨NNT : 2018PA01H203⟩. ⟨tel-01905036⟩



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