Conserving Functions across Generations: Heredity in Light of Biological Organization

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 73 (1):249-278 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX


We develop a conceptual framework that connects biological heredity and organization. We refer to heredity as the cross-generation conservation of functional elements, defined as constraints subject to organizational closure. While hereditary objects are functional constituents of biological systems, any other entity that is stable across generations—and possibly involved in the recurrence of phenotypes—belongs to their environment. The central outcome of the organizational perspective consists in extending the scope of heredity beyond the genetic domain without merging it with the broad category of cross-generation stability. After discussing some implications, we conclude with a reflection on the relationship between stability and variation. 1Introduction2From Extended Heredity to Cross-generation Stability 2.1Extending the scope of heredity: A brief state of the art2.2Rethinking heredity: Conceptual challenges3Biological Heredity in Light of Organization 3.1Biological organization within organisms and beyond3.2Extending organization in time3.3What is biological heredity?4Implications and Objections 4.1Heredity as a specific kind of cross-generation stability4.2Heredity at various levels of description4.3Non-functional and dysfunctional objects5Conclusions: From Conservation to Variation



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 84,292

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Biological Organization and Cross-Generation Functions.Cristian Saborido, Matteo Mossio & Alvaro Moreno - 2011 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (3):583-606.
Extended inheritance as reconstruction of extended organization: the paradigmatic case of symbiosis.Gaëlle Pontarotti - 2016 - Lato Sensu: Revue de la Société de Philosophie des Sciences 3 (1):93-102.
An organizational account of biological functions.Matteo Mossio, Cristian Saborido & Alvaro Moreno - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (4):813-841.
Biological pathology from an organizational perspective.Cristian Saborido & Alvaro Moreno - 2015 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 36 (1):83-95.
Darwin on Variation and Heredity.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther - 2000 - Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3):425-455.
Tracing the shifting sands of ‘medical genetics’: what’s in a name?William Leeming - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (1):50-60.


Added to PP

30 (#418,938)

6 months
2 (#332,731)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Matteo Mossio
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

References found in this work

On the origin of species.Charles Darwin - 2008 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Gillian Beer.
The Selfish Gene. [REVIEW]Gunther S. Stent & Richard Dawkins - 1977 - Hastings Center Report 7 (6):33.
Biological Autonomy: A Philosophical and Theoretical Enquiry.Alvaro Moreno & Matteo Mossio - 2015 - Dordrecht: Springer. Edited by Matteo Mossio.
Genetics and philosophy : an introduction.Paul Griffiths & Karola Stotz - 2013 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
An organizational account of biological functions.Matteo Mossio, Cristian Saborido & Alvaro Moreno - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (4):813-841.

View all 26 references / Add more references