Saturday, January 6, 2018

Jonathan Birch — Organisms as societies

Here, "society" is being used as a metaphor rather than a description. I would prefer to use "system" rather than "society," and to compare biological systems with social systems, since this is more descriptive and less evocative. At the same time, I agree that the use of "society" is legitimate and useful in biology and evolutionary theory.  

There are three major types of systems, corresponding to the three major branches of science — physical, biological, and social. There are resemblances and important differences in these types of system.

That said, the article is short and worth knowing about, since it indicates a rising trend in the field and evolutionary biology is exerting increasing influence on social, political, and economic thinking. 

So is the systems approach. General Systems Theory was founded by biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy. Economist Kenneth Boulding switched from conventional economics to general systems theory. 

Organisms as societies
Jonathan Birch is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics and Political Science, specializing in the philosophy of evolutionary biology

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