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Theory Biosci. 2014 Mar;133(1):39-45. doi: 10.1007/s12064-013-0184-5. Epub 2013 May 15.

Evolution, reproduction and definition of life.

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College of Physiotherapy in Wrocław, Wrocław, Poland,


Synthetic theory of evolution is a superior integrative biological theory. Therefore, there is nothing surprising about the fact that multiple attempts of defining life are based on this theory. One of them even has a status of NASA's working definition. According to this definition, 'life is a self-sustained chemical system capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution' Luisi (Orig Life Evol Bios 28:613-622, 1998); Cleland, Chyba (Orig Life Evol Bios 32:387-393, 2002). This definition is often considered as one of the more theoretically mature definitions of life. This Darwinian definition has nonetheless provoked a lot of criticism. One of the major arguments claims that this definition is wrong due to 'mule's problem'. Mules (and other infertile hybrids), despite being obviously living organisms, in the light of this definition are considered inanimate objects. It is strongly counterintuitive. The aim of this article was to demonstrate that this reasoning is false. In the later part of the text, I also discuss some other arguments against the Darwinian approach to defining life.

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