Biological Autonomy

A Philosophical and Theoretical Enquiry

  • Alvaro Moreno
  • Matteo Mossio

Part of the History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences book series (HPTL, volume 12)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxxiv
  2. Alvaro Moreno, Matteo Mossio
    Pages 1-38
  3. Alvaro Moreno, Matteo Mossio
    Pages 39-61
  4. Alvaro Moreno, Matteo Mossio
    Pages 63-87
  5. Alvaro Moreno, Matteo Mossio
    Pages 89-109
  6. Alvaro Moreno, Matteo Mossio
    Pages 111-139
  7. Alvaro Moreno, Matteo Mossio
    Pages 141-165
  8. Alvaro Moreno, Matteo Mossio
    Pages 167-193
  9. Alvaro Moreno, Matteo Mossio
    Pages 195-200
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 201-221

About this book


Since Darwin, Biology has been framed on the idea of evolution by natural selection, which has profoundly influenced the scientific and philosophical comprehension of biological phenomena and of our place in Nature. This book argues that contemporary biology should progress towards and revolve around an even more fundamental idea, that of autonomy. Biological autonomy describes living organisms as organised systems, which are able to self-produce and self-maintain as integrated entities, to establish their own goals and norms, and to promote the conditions of their existence through their interactions with the environment.

Topics covered in this book include organisation and biological emergence, organisms, agency, levels of autonomy, cognition, and a look at the historical dimension of autonomy. The current development of scientific investigations on autonomous organisation calls for a theoretical and philosophical analysis. This can contribute to the elaboration of an original understanding of life - including human life - on Earth, opening new perspectives and enabling fecund interactions with other existing theories and approaches. This book takes up the challenge.


Agency and Philosophy Autonomous agent Biological Autonomy Evolvability Function and Philosophy Morphogenesis Organizational closure Teleogoly Thermodynamics biological organization

Authors and affiliations

  • Alvaro Moreno
    • 1
  • Matteo Mossio
    • 2
  1. 1.IAS-Research Centre for Life, Mind and Society, Departamento de Lógica y FilosofíaUniversidad del País VascoDonostia - San SebastianSpain
  2. 2.Institut d'Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences et des Techniques (IHPST)CNRS/Université Paris I/ENSParisFrance

Bibliographic information