Individuality in Biology and Cognitive Sciences

The goal of the project is to investigate the notion of biological individuality at the intersection of philosophy of biology and philosophy of mind and of cognitive science. Individuality poses currently a significant problem for contemporary theories of life, and there are many attempts to provide a definition for this concept. These attempts have, however, certain limitations – most notably they are usually developed as purely theoretical and do not encompass all disciplines of life sciences.

Hence, the project will compare formal, theoretical definitions of individuality with state-of-the-art empirical research to see if these theoretical descriptions capture the scientific practice of biologists. What’s more, the project will attempt to connect the research on individuality and cognitive science, one of the disciplines (as Peter Godfrey-Smith (2016) noted) disjointed from it.

As a result, the project will provide critical analysis of existing frameworks of individuality, pointing out their deficiencies, and using insights they provide to solve problems within cognitive science and philosophy of mind, such as e.g. the question of minimal and extended cognition, or the problem of accurate division of neural networks into functional modules (see e.g., RyyppΓΆ et al. 2018).