Article ID: CBB106775788

Biological Regulation: Controlling the System from Within (2015)


Biological regulation is what allows an organism to handle the effects of a perturbation, modulating its own constitutive dynamics in response to particular changes in internal and external conditions. With the central focus of analysis on the case of minimal living systems, we argue that regulation consists in a specific form of second-order control, exerted over the core (constitutive) regime of production and maintenance of the components that actually put together the organism. The main argument is that regulation requires a distinctive architecture of functional relationships, and specifically the action of a dedicated subsystem whose activity is dynamically decoupled from that of the constitutive regime. We distinguish between two major ways in which control mechanisms contribute to the maintenance of a biological organisation in response to internal and external perturbations: dynamic stability and regulation. Based on this distinction an explicit definition and a set of organisational requirements for regulation are provided, and thoroughly illustrated through the examples of bacterial chemotaxis and the lac-operon. The analysis enables us to mark out the differences between regulation and closely related concepts such as feedback, robustness and homeostasis.

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Authors & Contributors
Creager, Angela N. H.
Müller, Gerd B.
Callebaut, Werner
Newman, Stuart A.
Morange, Michel
Cobb, Matthew
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Annals of the History and Philosophy of Biology
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
British Journal for the History of Philosophy
Harvard University Press
Saybrook University
Chronos Verlag
Cambridge University Press
Arizona State University
Systems biology
Philosophy of science
Waddington, Conrad Hal
Jung, Carl Gustav
Bard, Jonathan B. L.
Buffon, Georges Louis Leclerc de
Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von
Clements, Frederic Edward
Time Periods
20th century
21st century
20th century, late
18th century
Human Genome Project

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