Foundations of Science

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 323-325

First online:

Definitions of Life are not Only Unnecessary, but they can do Harm to Understanding

  • Rob HengeveldAffiliated withInstitute of Ecological Science, Vrije Universiteit Email author 

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In my response to the paper by Jagers op Akkerhuis, I object against giving definitions of life, since they bias anything that follows. As we don’t know how life originated, authors characterise life using criteria derived from present-day properties, thus emphasising widely different ones, which gives bias to their further analysis. This makes their results dependent on their initial suppositions, which introduces circularity in their reasoning.


Definitions of life Methodological difficulties