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Closure, Causal

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In biological systems, closure refers to a holistic feature such that their constitutive processes, operations, and transformations (1) depend on each other for their production and maintenance and (2) collectively contribute to determine the conditions at which the whole organization can exist.

According to several theoretical biologists, the concept of closure captures one of the central features of biological organization since it constitutes, as well as evolution by natural selection, an emergent and distinctively biological causal regime. In spite of an increasing agreement on its relevance to understand biological systems, no agreement on a unique definition has been reached so far.


The concept of closure plays a relevant role in biological explanation since it is taken as a naturalized grounding for many distinctive biological dimensions, as purposefulness, normativity, and functionality (Chandler and Van De Vijver 2000).

The contemporary application...

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Correspondence to Matteo Mossio .

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© 2013 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC

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Mossio, M. (2013). Closure, Causal. In: Dubitzky, W., Wolkenhauer, O., Cho, KH., Yokota, H. (eds) Encyclopedia of Systems Biology. Springer, New York, NY.

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