• Ramón y Cajal Researcher
    IAS-Research Centre for Life, Mind, and Society
    Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science
    University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU)

    Research Areas
    Philosophy of Science
    Philosophy of Biology
    Theoretical Biology


New open access paper published in History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences: Menatti, L., Bich, L., & Saborido, C. (2022). Health and environment from adaptation to adaptivity: a situated relational account.  

ABSTRACT The definitions and conceptualizations of health, and the management of healthcare have been challenged by the current global scenarios (e.g., new diseases, new geographical distribution of diseases, effects of climate change on health, etc.) and by the ongoing scholarship in humanities and science. In this paper we question the mainstream definition of health adopted … Continue reading

New open access paper published in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science: Bich, L. and Bechtel, W. (2022). Organization needs organization: Understanding integrated control in living organisms.

Abstract Organization figures centrally in the understanding of biological systems advanced by both new mechanists and proponents of the autonomy framework. The new mechanists focus on how components of mechanisms are organized to produce a phenomenon and emphasize productive continuity between these components. The autonomy framework focuses on how the components of a biological system … Continue reading

New paper published in Adaptive Behavior: Bich, L. and Bechtel, W. (2022). Control Mechanisms: Explaining the Integration and Versatility of Biological Organisms. 

ABSTRACT: Living organisms act as integrated wholes to maintain themselves. Individual actions can each be explained by characterizing the mechanisms that perform the activity. But these alone do not explain how various activities are coordinated and performed versatilely. We argue that this depends on a specific type of mechanism, a control mechanism. We develop an … Continue reading

New (open access) paper published in Biology & Philosophy: Bich, L. and Bechtel, W. (2021). Mechanism, autonomy and biological explanation. Biology & Philosophy. 

ABSTRACT: The new mechanists and the autonomy approach both aim to account for how biological phenomena are explained. One identifies appeals to how components of a mechanism are organized so that their activities produce a phenomenon. The other directs attention towards the whole organism and focuses on how it achieves self-maintenance. This paper discusses challenges … Continue reading

New book chapter: ” Autonomous Systems and the Place of Biology Among Sciences. Perspectives for an Epistemology of Complex Systems”

Abstract: This paper discusses the epistemic status of biology from the standpoint of the systemic approach to living systems based on the notion of biological autonomy. This approach aims to provide an understanding of the distinctive character of biological systems and this paper analyses its theoretical and epistemological dimensions. The paper argues that, considered from … Continue reading

New paper published in Philosophy of Science. Huang, L. T., Bich, L., & Bechtel, W. (2021). Model Organisms for Studying Decision-Making: a Phylogenetically Expanded Perspective.

ABSTRACT This paper explores the use of model organisms in studying the cognitive phenomenon of decision-making. Drawing on the framework of biological control to develop a skeletal conception of decision-making, we show that two core features of decision-making mechanisms can be identified by studying model organisms, such as E. coli, jellyfish, C. elegans, lamprey, etc. … Continue reading

New open-access paper: Bechtel, W. and Bich, L. (2021). Grounding cognition: heterarchical control mechanisms in biology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/…/10…/rstb.2019.0751 (PDF HERE) ABSTRACT We advance an account that grounds cognition, specifically decision-making, in an activity all organisms as autonomous systems must perform to keep themselves viable—controlling their production mechanisms. Production mechanisms, as we characterize them, perform activities such as procuring resources from their environment, putting these resources to use to construct and repair the … Continue reading

  • "To say that a system is complex […] is to say that we can describe the same system in a variety of distinct ways […]. Therefore a system is simple to the extent that a single description suffices to account for our interaction with the system; it is complex to the extent that it fails to be true." (Robert Rosen, 1978)
  • “Complexity is not an intrinsic property of a system nor of a system description. Rather, it arises from the number of ways in which we are able to interact with the system. Thus, complexity is a function not only of the system’s interactive capabilities, but of our own”
    (Robert Rosen, 1985)