Hidden Concepts in the History and Philosophy of Origins-of-Life Studies: a Workshop Report

Mariscal, Carlos
Barahona, Ana
Aubert-Kato, Nathanael
Aydınoğlu, Arsev Umur
Bartlett, Stuart
Cárdenas, María Luz
Chandru, Kuhan
Cleland, Carol
Cocanougher, Benjamin T.
Comfort, Nathaniel
Cornish-Bowden, Athel
Deacon, Terrence
Froese, Tom
Giovannelli, Donato
Hernlund, John
Hut, Piet
Kimura, Jun
Maurel, Marie-Christine
Merino, Nancy
Moreno, Alvaro
Nakagawa, Mayuko
Peretó, Juli
Virgo, Nathaniel
Witkowski, Olaf
James Cleaves, H.
In this review, we describe some of the central philosophical issues facing origins-of-life research and provide a targeted history of the developments that have led to the multidisciplinary field of origins-of-life studies. We outline these issues and developments to guide researchers and students from all fields. With respect to philosophy, we provide brief summaries of debates with respect to (1) definitions (or theories) of life, what life is and how research should be conducted in the absence of an accepted theory of life, (2) the distinctions between synthetic, historical, and universal projects in origins-of-life studies, issues with strategies for inferring the origins of life, such as (3) the nature of the first living entities (the "bottom up" approach) and (4) how to infer the nature of the last universal common ancestor (the "top down" approach), and (5) the status of origins of life as a science. Each of these debates influences the others. Although there are clusters of researchers that agree on some answers to these issues, each of these debates is still open. With respect to history, we outline several independent paths that have led to some of the approaches now prevalent in origins-of-life studies. These include one path from early views of life through the scientific revolutions brought about by Linnaeus (von Linn.), Wohler, Miller, and others. In this approach, new theories, tools, and evidence guide new thoughts about the nature of life and its origin. We also describe another family of paths motivated by a" circularity" approach to life, which is guided by such thinkers as Maturana & Varela, Ganti, Rosen, and others. These views echo ideas developed by Kant and Aristotle, though they do so using modern science in ways that produce exciting avenues of investigation. By exploring the history of these ideas, we can see how many of the issues that currently interest us have been guided by the contexts in which the ideas were developed. The disciplinary backgrounds of each of these scholars has influenced the questions they sought to answer, the experiments they envisioned, and the kinds of data they collected. We conclude by encouraging scientists and scholars in the humanities and social sciences to explore ways in which they can interact to provide a deeper understanding of the conceptual assumptions, structure, and history of origins-of-life research. This may be useful to help frame future research agendas and bring awareness to the multifaceted issues facing this challenging scientific question.
Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres


Risky Play in Early Childhood Education: A Risk Worth Taking
Yalçın, Fatma; Erden, Feyza (2018-12-01)
This paper aimed to present a literature review, examine relevant studies and present their common aims and findings. Based on this review, the study also intended to discuss and evaluate the current status of risky play in Turkish early childhood education. The literature was chosen through online sources, including several books, reports and many articles in the journals. A comprehensive research was conducted through data bases including ERIC, SCOPUS, ULAKBIM and Complementary Index using the key words s...
Material Processuality: Alternative Grounds for Design Research
Tönük Kruıthof, Damla (Informa UK Limited, 2020-01-01)
This article opens discussion on the positivist epistemology underlying the understandings of materials in design research that have been brought along as a result of theory and methods inherited from engineering and psychology. Examining the ambitions of work that seeks to operationalize knowledge created by these methods in the design process, we propose that attending to the processuality of material forms is a more adequate way for design research to capture the multiplicity of materials. We develop thi...
Stochastic optimal control theory: new applications to finance and insurance
Akdoğan, Emre; Yolcu Okur, Yeliz; Weber, Gerhard Wilhelm; Department of Financial Mathematics (2017)
In this study, the literature, recent developments and new achievements in stochastic optimal control theory are studied. Stochastic optimal control theory is an important direction of mathematical optimization for deriving control policies subject to timedependent processes whose dynamics follow stochastic differential equations. In this study, this methodology is used to deal with those infinite-dimensional optimization programs for problems from finance and insurance that are indeed motivated by the real l...
Origins of Life Research: a Bibliometric Approach
Aydınoğlu, Arsev Umur (2018-03-01)
This study explores the collaborative nature and interdisciplinarity of the origin(s) of life (OoL) research community. Although OoL research is one of the oldest topics in philosophy, religion, and science; to date there has been no review of the field utilizing bibliometric measures. A dataset of 5647 publications that are tagged as OoL, astrobiology, exobiology, and prebiotic chemistry is analyzed. The most prolific authors (Raulin, Ehrenfreund, McKay, Cleaves, Cockell, Lazcano, etc.), most cited scholar...
Gray's value-puralism: a critical analysis
Parmaksız, Abdullah Umut; Üstüner, Fahriye ; Department of Psychology (2007)
In this study, John Gray’s theory of value-pluralism is critically analyzed. Gray’s modus vivendi, based on Isaiah Berlin’s criticism of monism, is a theory that aims to create the conditions in which peace and diversity in late-modern societies can be protected. Gray argues that a legally pluralistic system where collectives have autonomy is more serving to peace than its liberal alternatives. This study argues that Gray fails to achieve its goal of promoting diversity. This is due to the fact that Gray’s ...
Citation Formats
C. Mariscal et al., “Hidden Concepts in the History and Philosophy of Origins-of-Life Studies: a Workshop Report,” Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, pp. 111–145, 2019, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://hdl.handle.net/11511/30998.