Everything Flows explores the metaphysical thesis that the living world is not made up of substantial particles or things, as has often been supposed, but is rather constituted by processes. The biological domain is organised as an interdependent hierarchy of processes, which are stabilized and actively maintained at different timescales. Even entities that intuitively appear to be paradigms of things, such as organisms, are actually better understood as processes. Unlike previous attempts to articulate processual views of biology, which have tended to use Alfred North Whitehead's panpsychist metaphysics as a foundation, this book takes a naturalistic approach to metaphysics. It submits that the main motivations for replacing an ontology of substances with one of processes are to be found in the empirical findings of science. Biology provides compelling reasons for thinking that the living realm is fundamentally dynamic, and that the existence of things is always conditional on the existence of processes. The phenomenon of life cries out for theories that prioritise processes over things, and it suggests that the central explanandum of biology is not change but rather stability, or more precisely, stability attained through constant change. This edited volume brings together philosophers of science and metaphysicians interested in exploring the prospects of a processual philosophy of biology. The contributors draw on an extremely wide range of biological case studies, and employ a process perspective to cast new light on a number of traditional philosophical problems, such as identity, persistence, and individuality.
Daniel J. Nicholson is a research fellow currently based at Egenis, The Centre for the Study of Life Sciences, at the University of Exeter. Previously, he held appointments at the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas in Tel Aviv, as well as at the Konrard Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research near Vienna. His work is characterized by an integrated and strongly interdisciplinary approach to the history and philosophy of biology, with a specific interest in the ontology of living systems and the adequacy of mechanistic explanations to make sense of them. He is also interested in general topics in the philosophy of science and in theoretical biology, broadly construed. John Dupre is Professor of Philosophy and Director of Egenis, The Centre for the Study of Life Sciences, at the University of Exeter. He has formerly held posts at Oxford, Birkbeck College, London, and Stanford, and visiting chairs at the University of Amsterdam and Cambridge. He has wide-ranging interests in the philosophy of biology, the philosophy of science generally, and naturalistic, empirically grounded metaphysics. He is a former president of the British Society for Philosophy of Science, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.