A domain that groups various forms of performing agents that can be stakeholders in design, research, politics, law and so on.


  • Agency
  • Autonomy
  • enactivism: cognitive processes are in the world and not in the head, perception, action, reflection, imagining, and mathematical reasoning are examples of skilful responses to affordances 1
  • radical constructivism

Types of Agents

  • genes, genotypes
  • organisms, phenotypes
  • species and higher taxa
  • populations
  • collectives, such as social groups, communities, families, kinship groups
  • ecosystems, including abiotic components
  • hybrid entities such as rivers or hills, or bioregions
  • earth beings, 2 borrowing from inclusive traditional-knowledge philosophies
  • animal, vegetal and mineral bodies
  • ecological subjecthood 3

Relative Importance

Homo sapience are relatively insignificant in the "flow of Gaia" as a statistically insignificant outlier with an uncertain future.

Slijepcevic, Predrag. Biocivilisations: A New Look at the Science of Life. White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2023.


Biological individuality is a gradual property. Its nature is debated. It does not equal to an organism.

Some consider the Earth’s Life (with a capital ‘L’) as one individual, that is the Last Universal Common Ancestor and all of its descendants, is a biological individual, similar to what is currently understood as species.

Mariscal, Carlos, and W. Ford Doolittle. ‘Life and Life Only: A Radical Alternative to Life Definitionism’. Synthese 197, no. 7 (2020): 2975–89.

History of life is the history of the construction of more complicated biological individuals from simpler biological individuals.

Some equate biological individuals with their life cycles (not too broadly accepted).

Queller, David C., and Joan E. Strassmann. ‘Beyond Society: The Evolution of Organismality’. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 364, no. 1533 (2009): 3143–55.

Wilson, Robert A., and Matthew J. Barker. ‘Biological Individuals’. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta. 2007. Reprint, Standford: Stanford University, 2019.

Perspectivism or Epistemological Pluralism


Perspectivism is an idea that biologists can label phenomena linked to living beings (leaf, plant, etc.) using contradictory terms.

Epistemological pluralism accepts that there is no one single approach or theory that can capture the complexity and diversity of the world, but rather many perspectives that can complement and enrich each other. Contrasting approaches include monism, which asserts that there is only one valid way of knowing, and reductionism, which tries to explain all phenomena in terms of some few basic entities or principles.

Related to:

  • as-if-ism, a practice (in philosophy of science) or using models or hypothesis that are not true to explain or predict phenomena. E.g., a model of an atom as a star with planets. Scientific theories not are true descriptions of reality but as tools for organising and manipulating observations. 4
  • scientific pluralism, argues that science is not unified, e.g., in its metaphysics, its epistemology, or its research methods and models.
  • conceptual nominalism (the world is made from singular and particular things, universals are the product of mental representations and the like, a middle position between extreme nominalism that denies similarities between particulars and realism that asserts that universals exist atop of particulars). 5
  • map analogy, concepts relate to reality like maps to landscapes. Maps are useful for navigation but are partial and multiple different maps are possible. 6
  • epistemological anarchy (or "anything goes"), a conception by Feyerabend who argued against the unity of the scientific method reasoning that multiple approaches are more likely support creativity. Multiple theories and methods can coexist and compete without the need to judge them against a single truth. 7
  • epistemic pluralism 8
  • legal pluralism

  1. Amphibians
  2. Animals
  3. Beaver
  4. Birds
  5. Cell
  6. Companion Animals
  7. Cow
  8. Coyote
  9. Dog
  10. Eel
  11. Fungi
  12. Grey Box
  13. Ice
  14. Insects
  15. Koala
  16. Mangrove
  17. Microbe
  18. Near Surface Ecologies
  19. Owl
  20. Personhood
  21. Plant
  22. Soil
  23. Spiders
  24. Turtle
  25. Water
  26. Whale


  1. Gallagher, Shaun. Enactivist Interventions: Rethinking the Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.˄

  2. Cadena, Marisol de la. Earth Beings: Ecologies of Practice Across Andean Worlds. 2011. Durham: Duke University Press, 2015.˄

  3. Davies, Emma Shea. “Ecological Subjecthood.” PhD Thesis, The Australian National University, 2019.˄

  4. Vaihinger, Hans. The Philosophy of ’As If: A System of the Theoretical, Practical and Religious Fictions of Mankind. Translated by Charles K. Ogden. 2011. Reprint, Mansfield Center: Martino, 2009. Just the original use of the term, there are recent publications and debates on this.˄

  5. Panaccio, Claude. ‘Nominalism and the Theory of Concepts’. In Handbook of Categorization in Cognitive Science, edited by Henri Cohen and Claire Lefebvre, 2nd ed., 1115–33. 2005. Reprint, San Diego: Elsevier, 2017.˄

  6. Woodger, Joseph H. Biological Principles: A Critical Study. New York: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1929.˄

  7. Feyerabend, Paul. Against Method. 3rd ed. 1975. Reprint, London: Verso, 1993.˄

  8. Carter, J. Adam, and Anne-Kathrin Koch. ‘Epistemic Pluralism’. In The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Interest Groups, Lobbying and Public Affairs, edited by Phil Harris, Alberto Bitonti, Craig S. Fleisher, and Anne Skorkjær Binderkrantz, 1–4. Cham: Springer, 2020.˄