Foundations of Science

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 323–325 | Cite as

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

Reply

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Definitions of life Methodological difficulties 

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References

  1. Eck R., Dayhoff M. O. (1966) Evolution of the structure of ferredoxin based on living relics of primitive amino acid sequences. Science 152: 363–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Hengeveld R. (2007) Two approaches to the study of the origin of life. Acta Biotheoretica 55: 97–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Hengeveld R., Fedonkin M. A. (2007) Bootstrapping the energy flow in the beginning of life. Acta Biotheoretica 55: 181–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Jagers op Akkerhuis, G. A. J. M. (2010a). Towards a hierarchical definition of life, the organism, and death. Foundations of Science 15, no. 3 (6), 245–262. doi:10.1007/s10699-010-9177-8. arXiv:0912.5508v2.
  5. Jagers op Akkerhuis, G. A. J. M. (2010b). Explaining the origin of life is not enough for a definition of life. Foundations of Science. doi:10.1007/s10699-010-9209-4. arXiv:0912.5508v2
  6. van Straalen, N. (2010). The issue of “closure” in Jagers op Akkerhuis’s operator theory. Foundations of Science. doi:10.1007/s10699-010-9207-6. arXiv:0912.5508v2

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Ecological ScienceVrije UniversiteitAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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