Organism and character decomposition: Steps towards an integrative theory of biology

TitleOrganism and character decomposition: Steps towards an integrative theory of biology
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsLaubichler, M D., and Wagner, G P.
JournalPhilosophy of Science
PaginationS289–S300
Abstract

In this paper we argue that an operational organism concept can help to overcome the structural deficiency of mathematical models in biology. In our opinion, the structural deficiency of mathematical models lies mainly in our inability to identify functionally relevant biological characters in biological systems, and not so much in a lack of adequate mathematical representations of biological processes. We argue that the problem of character identification in biological systems is linked to the question of a properly formulated organism concept. Lastly, we demonstrate how a decomposition of an organism into independent characters in the context of a specific biological process-such as adaptation by means of natural selection-depends on the dynamical properties and invariance conditions of the equations that describe this process.