A Plurality During Pregnancy?

22 November 2018 - 17:00-18:30

Lecture: Jonathan Grose, University of Southampton

Strand Campus, Somerset House East Wing, Room SW-2.17

Those not holding a valid King’s ID card can register by emailing Harriet Fagerberg their name prior to the 21st of Nov.

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Video Recording


I argue that the case of mammalian, placental pregnancy is a neglected and significant example of what Clarke calls “the problem of biological individuality”. This example is much closer to home than those typically discussed in the literature. I apply both evolutionary and immunological accounts of individuality to the “counting question”, how many individuals are present during a placental pregnancy? I conclude that evolutionary approaches yield the answer “two”, due to bottlenecking, germ-soma sequestration and sexual recombination. By contrast, an immunological approach answers “one”, due to pervasive interactions during pregnancy. Consequently, pregnancy provides a clear, novel example of the need for a pluralist approach to biological individuality.