, Volume 185, Issue 1, pp 73-88

First online:

A functional account of degrees of minimal chemical life

  • Mark A. BedauAffiliated withReed CollegeEuropean School of Molecular Medicine Email author 

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This paper describes and defends the view that minimal chemical life essentially involves the chemical integration of three chemical functionalities: containment, metabolism, and program (Rasmussen et al. in Protocells: bridging nonliving and living matter, 2009a). This view is illustrated and explained with the help of CMP and Rasmussen diagrams (Rasmussen et al. In: Rasmussen et al. (eds.) in Protocells: bridging nonliving and living matter, 71–100, 2009b), both of which represent the key chemical functional dependencies among containment, metabolism, and program. The CMP model of minimal chemical life gains some support from the broad view of life as open-ended evolution, which I have defended elsewhere (Bedau in The philosophy of artificial life, 1996; Bedau in Artificial Life, 4:125–140, 1998). Further support comes from the natural way the CMP model resolves the puzzle about whether life is a matter of degree.


Life Container Metabolism Program Open-ended evolution Degrees of life