Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 321–361 | Cite as

Plant individuality: a solution to the demographer’s dilemma

  • Ellen ClarkeEmail author


The problem of plant individuality is something which has vexed botanists throughout the ages, with fashion swinging back and forth from treating plants as communities of individuals (Darwin 1800; Braun and Stone 1853; Münch 1938) to treating them as organisms in their own right, and although the latter view has dominated mainstream thought most recently (Harper 1977; Cook 1985; Ariew and Lewontin 2004), a lively debate conducted mostly in Scandinavian journals proves that the issues are far from being resolved (Tuomi and Vuorisalo 1989b; Fagerström 1992; Pan and Price 2001). In this paper I settle the matter once and for all, by showing which elements of each side are correct.


Biological individuality Plants Modular Genet Ramet Selection 



I would like to thank Samir Okasha, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Torbjörn Fagerström, Thomas Pradeu, Henry J Folse III and two anonymous reviewers, as well as the University of Bristol, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.All Souls CollegeOxford UniversityOxfordUK

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