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Chapter 3 - Organisms

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 January 2022

Steven Luper
Affiliation:
Trinity University, Texas
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Summary

What compose organisms at any given time are bonded things that are able to form fresh bonds to new things and to break bonds that are already in place. The activities of their constituents are organized and controlled, or integrated, under the guidance of information they carry. This is a very rough picture of what composes organisms. After sketching it out, I considered three ways of refining it – three accounts of the composition of an organism at a time and over time. The first, the gradualist account, says that an organism survives only incremental changes that leave its constituents integrated. However, organisms may survive grave injuries and radical forms of surgery that change their composition suddenly and dramatically. The second, unrefined integratist account, solves this problem, as it allows for even drastic changes in an organism’s constituents, as long as these leave them capable of activities integrated in conformity with the information that was encoded in the nucleic acid within them before the change. But the unrefined account implied that an organism could become two, and two one. To solve that problem I offer a third account, integratism, which says that an organism’s constituents can only undergo nondiverging, nonmerging replacements.

Type
Chapter
Information
Mortal Objects
Identity and Persistence through Life and Death
, pp. 40 - 62
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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  • Organisms
  • Steven Luper, Trinity University, Texas
  • Book: Mortal Objects
  • Online publication: 27 January 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108981316.004
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  • Organisms
  • Steven Luper, Trinity University, Texas
  • Book: Mortal Objects
  • Online publication: 27 January 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108981316.004
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Organisms
  • Steven Luper, Trinity University, Texas
  • Book: Mortal Objects
  • Online publication: 27 January 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108981316.004
Available formats
×