Talk by Davide Vecchi: “Challenging the consensus: intrinsicalism and the minimal genome”

Date and Time: April 24, Monday, 16:00 p.m.

Location: Facultad de Educación, Filosofía y Antropología. Aula Polivalente (tercer piso).

Speaker: Davide Vecchi (Centre for Philosophy of Sciences, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon, Portugal)

Title: Challenging the consensus: intrinsicalism and the minimal genome

Abstract: The consensus in philosophy of biology is based on the tenet that biological species are individuated only by relational properties (relationalism) and not by intrinsic ones (intrinsicalism). In this article I argue that the supporters of relationalism have not taken into account the possibility that minimal species genomes might exist. A minimal genome is a set of genetic properties that all and only the organisms belonging to a certain organismal lineage share. Hereby I critically analyse some prominent arguments that have been proposed to show intrinsicalism’s fallacy. I aim to show that the empirical evidence and the theoretical considerations in support for these arguments are weak. In particular, I show that gene conservation is a powerful evolutionary force able to preserve minimal genomes. I also consider in what sense the existence of a minimal genome would support intrinsicalism.