Integrative Biophilosophy

Series of articles on integrative biophilosophy in History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences

Funding: DAAD

Project description

Following the basic idea of Integrative Biophilosophy, a series of articles has been created which take different approaches to the philosophical study of phenomena of the living and their exploration, while also reflecting methodological and epistemological perspectives on the practices, concepts and forms of representation of the biosciences.

With reference to theories of the living in Hegel, Plessner and Jonas, the contribution by Francesca Michelini, Matthias Wunsch and Dirk Stederoth discusses different perspectives on the autonomy of the living. In this context, various approaches are pursued that describe a truly "interactive" dimension of the functional interactions of the organism with the environment that cannot be explained exclusively from the internal organization.

The contribution by Martin Böhnert and Christopher Hilbert is devoted to a new perspective on the work of C. Lloyd Morgan, one of the "founding fathers" of comparative psychology and ethology. In contrast to the standard historiographical review, the basic conceptual, ontological and methodological questions identified by Morgan are analysed and their role for current research is discussed in so far as they concern the fundamental limits and possibilities of research into animals' minds

In their contribution, Fridolin Gross, Nina Kranke and Robert Meunier use case studies from contemporary biology to analyse the conflicts between established and newly developed approaches. The designed model of "epistemic competition" contributes to the understanding of the pluralization of the scientific landscape by considering as new explanatory dimensions on the one hand the criticism and defense of one's own basic assumptions and on the other hand the competition for acceptance of one's own contributions by a broader scientific community.

All contributions were developed in context of the 2nd International School of Biophilosophy, 27-30 April 2015, University of Padua, Italy (carried out within the DAAD funding programme "University Dialogue with Southern Europe 2015/2016", organised by Kristian Köchy, Francesca Michelini and Luca Illetterati).


  • Michelini, F., Wunsch, M., & Stederoth, D. (2018). Philosophy of nature and organism’s autonomy: On Hegel, Plessner and Jonas’ theories of living beings. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 40(3), 56.
  • Böhnert, M., & Hilbert, C. (2018). “Other minds than ours”: A controversial discussion on the limits and possibilities of comparative psychology in the light of C. Lloyd Morgan’s work. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 40(3), 44.
  • Gross, F., Kranke, N., & Meunier, R. (2019). Pluralization through epistemic competition: Scientific change in times of data-intensive biology. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 41(1), 1.