One striking feature about life is that, instead of being distributed homogeneously on Earth’s surface, it is clustered into biological individuals, such as ants, dogs, and beehives. But why would free-living individuals (e.g., single cells) forgo their independent existence and merge into higher-level individuals (e.g., multicellular organisms)? The goal of this project is to address this issue by using biofilms and other microbial communities as case studies.
Pedroso, M. (2019). “Forming Lineages by Sticking Together.” Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology . doi: 10.3998/ptpbio.16039257.0011.016 .
— (2017). “Inheritance by recruitment: A reply to Clarke’s ‘Levels of selection in biofilms’.” Biology & Philosophy 32, pp. 127–131. url: Preprint .
Ereshefsky, M. and M. Pedroso (2015a). “Rethinking Evolutionary Individuality.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112, pp. 10126–10132. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1421377112 .
— (2015b). “What biofilms can teach us about individuality.” In: Individuals Across Sciences . Ed. by T. Pradeu and A. Guay. Oxford University Press.
— (2013). “Biological individuality: the case of biofilms.” Biology & Philosophy 28, pp. 331–349. url: Preprint .
The classification of organisms into species and higher taxa is often genealogical. For instance, Homo sapiens belongs to the order Primates because humans descended from earlier primates. Once we take a closer look at how common ancestry fixes the membership conditions of biological taxa, however, a series of problems opens up. ‘What is a common ancestor?’ ‘Are microbial species best viewed as lineage segments given that microbes can exchange genes horizontally?’ The goal of this project is to investigate these and other problems taking into account the role of common ancestry in biological classification.
Pedroso, M. (2014). “Origin essentialism in biology.” The Philosophical Quarterly 64.254, pp. 60–81. doi: 10.1093/pq/pqt011 .
— (2012). “Essentialism, History, and Biological Taxa.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43, pp. 182–190. doi: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2011.10.019 . url: Preprint .