• 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 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

OUTONOMY project: Fleshing out autonomy beyond the individual

We are happy to announce that the Outonomy (“Fleshing out autonomy beyond the individual”) project got officially funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. The project is co-lead by Leonardo Bich and Xabier E. Barandiaran. Full information at this link: https://www.ias-research.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Outonomy_project-description.pdf Project summary and main research lines The project aims to expand theories … Continue reading

PhD Scolarship 2020-2024 in the project “OUTONOMY” of the IAS-Research group: expression of interest is now OPEN

We have been awarded a scholarship for a PhD student to develop her/his PhD with us on the topics of the research project “OUTONOMY: fleshing out autonomy beyond the individual”. We are searching for a dedicated, smart, philosophically minded, technically skilled and collaborative person willing to start a research career with us at the IAS-Research … Continue reading

New paper on “Functional Integration and Individuality in Prokaryotic Collective Organisations”

Militello, G., Bich, L. & Moreno, A. (2020). Functional integration and individuality in prokaryotic collective organisations. Acta Biotheoretica, doi: 10.1007/s10441-020-09390-z download preprint here ABSTRACT Both physiological and evolutionary criteria of biological individuality are underpinned by the idea that an individual is a functionally integrated whole. However, a precise account of functional integration has not been provided so … Continue reading


Bich, L. (2020). Interactive Models in Synthetic Biology: Exploring Biological and Cognitive Inter-Identities. Frontiers in Psychology. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00682 https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00682/full also here ABSTRACT: The aim of this article is to investigate the relevance and implications of synthetic models for the study of the interactive dimension of minimal life and cognition, by taking into consideration how the use … Continue reading

New paper on glycemia regulation addressed from an organisational perspective (open access)

Bich, L., Mossio, M. & Soto, A. (2020). Glycemia Regulation: From Feedback Loops to Organizational Closure. Frontiers in Physiology, 11(69), doi: 10.3389/fphys.2020.00069 https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2020.00069/full also here ABSTRACT Endocrinologists apply the idea of feedback loops to explain how hormones regulate certain bodily functions such as glucose metabolism. In particular, feedback loops focus on the maintenance of the … Continue reading

New paper on the organisation of space in multicellularity, published in Frontiers in Physiology (open access)

Bich L, Pradeu T and Moreau J-F (2019) Understanding Multicellularity: The Functional Organization of the Intercellular Space. Frontiers in Physiology 10:1170. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.01170 https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2019.01170/full ABSTRACT The aim of this paper is to provide a theoretical framework to understand how multicellular systems realize functionally integrated physiological entities by organizing their intercellular space. From a perspective centered on physiology … 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)