Individuation, Process, and Scientific Practices

ISBN : 9780190636814

Otavio Bueno; Ruey-Lin Chen; Melinda Bonnie Fagan
328 ページ
156 x 235 mm

What things count as individuals, and how do we individuate them? It is a classic philosophical question often tackled from the perspective of analytic metaphysics. This volume proposes that there is another channel by which to approach individuation — from that of scientific practices. From this perspective, the question then becomes: How do scientists individuate things and, therefore, count them as individuals?

This volume collects the work of philosophers of science to engage with this central philosophical conundrum from a new angle, highlighting the crucial topic of experimental individuation and building upon recent, pioneering work in the philosophy of science. An introductory chapter foregrounds the problem of individuation, arguing it should be considered prior to the topic of individuality. The following chapters address individuation and individuality from a variety of perspectives, with prominent themes being the importance of experimentation, individuation as a process, and pluralism in individuation's criteria. Contributions examine individuation in a wide range of sciences, including stem cell biology, particle physics, and community ecology. Other chapters examine the metaphysics of individuation, its bearing on realism/antirealism debates, and interrogate epistemic aspects of individuation in scientific practice.

In exploring individuation from the philosophy of biology, physics, and other scientific subjects, this volume ultimately argues for the possibility of several criteria of individuation, upending the tenets of traditional metaphysics. It provides insights for philosophers of science, but also for scientists interested in the conceptual foundations of their work.


Chapter 1. Individuation, Process, and Scientific Practices Otavio Bueno, Ruey-Lin Chen and Melinda B. Fagan
Part I: Aspects of Individuation: Metaphysical and Processual
Chapter 2. Processes, Organisms, Kinds and the Inevitability of Pluralism John Dupre
Chapter 3. Individuating Processes John Pemberton
Chapter 4. Individuating Part-Whole Relations in the Biological World Marie I. Kaiser
Part II: Experimental Practices of Individuation
Chapter 5. Ask Not What Is an Individual? C. Kenneth Waters
Chapter 6. Individuality, Organisms, and Cell Differentiation Melinda Bonnie Fagan
Chapter 7. Individuation of Developing Systems: A Reproducer Perspective James Griesemer
Chapter 8. Individuation, Individuality, and Experimental Practice in Developmental Biology Alan C. Love
Chapter 9. Experimental Individuation: Creation and Presentation Ruey-Lin Chen
Chapter 10. Emergent Quasiparticles, Or, How to Get a Rich Physics from a Sober Metaphysics Alexandre Guay and Olivier Sartenaer
Part III: Individuation in Philosophical Approaches to Science: Realism, Anti-Realism, Environmentalism
Chapter 11. Can Quantum Objects Be Tracked? Otavio Bueno
Chapter 12. Retail Realism, the Individuation of Theoretical Entities, and the Case of the Muriatic Radical Jonathon Hricko
Chapter 13. Is Aldo Leopold's Biotic Community an Individual? Roberta L. Millstein


Otavio Bueno is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Department at the University of Miami. He works in the philosophies of science, of mathematics and of logic, epistemology, and philosophy of art. He is the author of Applying Mathematics: Immersion, Inference, Interpretation (with Steven French, Oxford University Press), and over 180 research articles. He is editor-in-chief of Synthese. Ruey-Lin Chen is Professor of Philosophy at National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan. His current research interest is in the philosophy of science across physical, biological, and experimental cases. He is the author of four books and more than forty articles in history and philosophy of science in Chinese. He also published a number of journal articles and book chapters in English. Melinda Bonnie Fagan is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Utah, where she holds the Sterling M. McMurrin Chair. Her research focuses on experimental practice in biology; (particularly stem cell and developmental biology), explanation, and modeling. She is the author of Philosophy of Stem Cell Biology (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and more than forty articles and book chapters on topics in philosophy of science and biology.