The Objectivity of Organizational Functions

Samuel Cusimano, Beckett Sterner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We critique the organizational account of biological functions by showing how its basis in the closure of constraints fails to be objective. While the account treats constraints as objective features of physical systems, the number and relationship of potential constraints are subject to potentially arbitrary redescription by investigators. For example, we show that self-maintaining systems such as candle flames can realize closure on a more thorough analysis of the case, contradicting the claim that these “simple” systems lack functional organization. This also raises problems for Moreno and Mossio’s associated theory of biological autonomy, which asserts that living beings are distinguished by their possession of a closed system of constraints that channel and regulate their metabolic processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalActa Biotheoretica
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Research Personnel
closed loop systems
autonomy
redescriptions
Closure
Flame
Closed
Objectivity
Arbitrary
analysis

Keywords

  • Biological autonomy
  • Biological function
  • Biological individuality
  • Constraints
  • Feed forward loop
  • Network motifs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Philosophy
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics

Cite this

The Objectivity of Organizational Functions. / Cusimano, Samuel; Sterner, Beckett.

In: Acta Biotheoretica, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{069f79b78a3f41b7b72ee177f5ec11e8,
title = "The Objectivity of Organizational Functions",
abstract = "We critique the organizational account of biological functions by showing how its basis in the closure of constraints fails to be objective. While the account treats constraints as objective features of physical systems, the number and relationship of potential constraints are subject to potentially arbitrary redescription by investigators. For example, we show that self-maintaining systems such as candle flames can realize closure on a more thorough analysis of the case, contradicting the claim that these “simple” systems lack functional organization. This also raises problems for Moreno and Mossio’s associated theory of biological autonomy, which asserts that living beings are distinguished by their possession of a closed system of constraints that channel and regulate their metabolic processes.",
keywords = "Biological autonomy, Biological function, Biological individuality, Constraints, Feed forward loop, Network motifs",
author = "Samuel Cusimano and Beckett Sterner",
year = "2019",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1007/s10441-019-09365-9",
language = "English (US)",
journal = "Acta Biotheoretica",
issn = "0001-5342",
publisher = "Springer Netherlands",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The Objectivity of Organizational Functions

AU - Cusimano, Samuel

AU - Sterner, Beckett

PY - 2019/1/1

Y1 - 2019/1/1

N2 - We critique the organizational account of biological functions by showing how its basis in the closure of constraints fails to be objective. While the account treats constraints as objective features of physical systems, the number and relationship of potential constraints are subject to potentially arbitrary redescription by investigators. For example, we show that self-maintaining systems such as candle flames can realize closure on a more thorough analysis of the case, contradicting the claim that these “simple” systems lack functional organization. This also raises problems for Moreno and Mossio’s associated theory of biological autonomy, which asserts that living beings are distinguished by their possession of a closed system of constraints that channel and regulate their metabolic processes.

AB - We critique the organizational account of biological functions by showing how its basis in the closure of constraints fails to be objective. While the account treats constraints as objective features of physical systems, the number and relationship of potential constraints are subject to potentially arbitrary redescription by investigators. For example, we show that self-maintaining systems such as candle flames can realize closure on a more thorough analysis of the case, contradicting the claim that these “simple” systems lack functional organization. This also raises problems for Moreno and Mossio’s associated theory of biological autonomy, which asserts that living beings are distinguished by their possession of a closed system of constraints that channel and regulate their metabolic processes.

KW - Biological autonomy

KW - Biological function

KW - Biological individuality

KW - Constraints

KW - Feed forward loop

KW - Network motifs

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85073940351&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85073940351&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s10441-019-09365-9

DO - 10.1007/s10441-019-09365-9

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85073940351

JO - Acta Biotheoretica

JF - Acta Biotheoretica

SN - 0001-5342

ER -