In this talk, Nemes analyzes the very notion of organism as it is used in philosophy of biology and theoretical biology, and its particular role in bioethical debates. It is assumed that both historically and in its current understanding, the theoretical concept of organism contains some teleological elements. First, Nemes will shortly summarize the role of organism in evolutionary and mechanistic explanations in biology, and then he will analyze how the concept of organism is of crucial importance to bioethical issues, as different as (1) environmental ethics (can planet Earth be regarded literally as an organism, as the Gaia hypothesis suggests?); (2) the definition of death and the related problem of end of life decisions; (3) the question of the beginning of life in the ethical controversies around abortion as well as the moral status of embryos and fetuses. At the end of the lecture, Nemes will shortly review Elselijn Kingma’s recently developed metaphysical conception on the relation of the mother and the fetus as being one organism until birth.
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The chief goal of the "Meant to Be: Resuscitating the Metaphysics of Teleology" project is to foster intelligent debate on philosophical issues concerning science, religion, and their conflicts and connections. To find out more about this project, please visit its website: www.teloi.org.