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. 2002 Aug;32(4):387-93.
doi: 10.1023/a:1020503324273.

Defining 'Life'


Defining 'Life'

Carol E Cleland et al. Orig Life Evol Biosph. .


There is no broadly accepted definition of 'life.' Suggested definitions face problems, often in the form of robust counter-examples. Here we use insights from philosophical investigations into language to argue that defining 'life' currently poses a dilemma analogous to that faced by those hoping to define 'water' before the existence of molecular theory. In the absence of an analogous theory of the nature of living systems, interminable controversy over the definition of life is inescapable.

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