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Biological Individuality, Pregnancy, and (Mammalian) Reproduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


Mammals are usually considered unproblematic as biological individuals. This article contends the opposite. Once we consider pregnancy, criteria for biological individuality are not easily applicable in mammals and give conflicting results: mammalian pregnancy poses a problem for biological individuality. This may open fruitful new approaches to biological individuality and is of relevance to metaphysicians interested in (human) organisms.

Biological Sciences and Medicine
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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I am grateful to Ellen Clarke, all members of the BUMP project group—Teresa Baron, Suki Finn, Alex Geddes, Anne Sophie Meincke, Ziggy Schilpzand, and especially Jonathan Grose—and organizers, participants, and audiences at the following occasions for helpful discussion and advice on the ideas expressed in this article: Symbiosis Workshop, Exeter, November 2015; Philosophy of Biology in the UK Conference, Bristol, June 2016; Visiting Speaker Talk, Department of Philosophy, Leeds, February 2018; Metaphysics of Pregnancy Symposium at the BSPS conference, Oxford, June 2018; Metaphysics of Mammalian Reproduction Symposium, PSA conference, Seattle, November 2019. This article is part of a project, Better Understanding the Metaphysics of Pregnancy, that has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, under grant 679586.


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