Biology & Philosophy

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Making microbes matter: essay review of Maureen A. O’Malley’s Philosophy of Microbiology

  • Gregory J. MorganEmail author
  • James Romph
  • Joshua L. Ross
  • Elizabeth Steward
  • Claire Szipszky
Review Essay


In a pioneering book, Philosophy of Microbiology, Maureen O’Malley argues for the philosophical importance of microbes through an examination of their impact on ecosystems, evolution, biological classification, collaborative behavior, and multicellular organisms. She identifies many understudied conceptual issues in the study of microbes. If philosophers follow her lead, the philosophy of biology will be expanded and enriched.


Microbial classification Microbial species Microbiome Philosophy of molecular biology Biological individuality 



This collaborative review was written in the Fall of 2017 as a work product of Stevens Institute of Technology class HPL 367 Philosophy of Biology, which aims to bring undergraduates into philosophical research. We thank Maureen O’Malley for comments on an early draft.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory J. Morgan
    • 1
    Email author
  • James Romph
    • 1
  • Joshua L. Ross
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Steward
    • 1
  • Claire Szipszky
    • 1
  1. 1.Stevens Institute of TechnologyHobokenUSA

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