New Paper (2024): Organizational teleology 2.0: Grounding biological purposiveness in regulatory control

Published open-access in Ratio.

Abstract: This paper critically revises the organisational account of teleology, which argues that living systems are first and foremost oriented towards a goal: maintaining their own conditions of existence. It points out some limitations of this account, mainly in the capability to account for the richness and complexity of biological systems and their purposeful behaviours. It identifies the reason of these limitations in the theoretical grounding of this account, specifically in the too narrow notion of closure of constraints, focused on self-production. It proposes to ground an organisational account of biological teleology in the capability of living system not just to produce and replace their parts, but to control their own internal dynamics and behaviours in such a way as to maintain themselves. This theoretical framework has two advantages. It better captures the distinctive features of biological organisations and consequently the richness and active nature of their purposeful behaviours. By doing so, it makes it possible to apply this framework beyond minimal theoretical models to real biological cases.