Louisa Jane Holt
Section for Consumption, Bioethics and Governance
1958 Frederiksberg C
I am a PhD candidate in philosophy, working within the philosophy of biology. I am employed as part of the project: Living Machines? The Prospects and Limitations of the Machine Concept of the Organism, and working under the supervision of Sune Holm and Thor Grunbaum.
I am particularly interested in complex hierarchical organization. A cell can simultaneously be an organism and it can be part of a more complex organism, an ecosystem, a species and a lineage. Within these hierarchies, complex issues of individuation emerge; do all of these levels of organization have equal footing or is there one primary level which subordinates the others? The intuitive view positions all of these various levels of organizations as individuals in their own right. But in this context, complex issues of self-interest emerge; what is good for one level may not be good for other levels of organization. To this end, the biological world is often depicted as a competitive fight for survival between individuals that have competing interests. But the prevalence of altruism and symbiosis challenges this traditional interpretation of biological systems. In turn, this challenges many of the normative judgements that are cast in biology. Saying that some biological event is good (i.e. a regular heart-beat) or bad (i.e. a rapid heart-beat) usually entails assuming the perspective of a particular level of organization (i.e. the organism) and assuming that all bodily functions operate for their self-interest. How then, do we make sense of normative claims within complex systems within with multiple individuals collaboratively co-exist.
Primary fields of research
philosohy of biology, philosophy of psychology, the nature of functional explanations, the nature of representation
Lucy is a co-supervisor for the module Introduction to Cognitive Science