Rethinking the Individuality of Pregnancy: Eutherian Pregnancy as an Evolved Relational Novelty

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Laura Nuño de la Rosa, Mihaela Pavlicev, Arantza Etxeberria

Subject: Arts & Humanities, Philosophy

Keywords: evo-devo; individuality; novelty; pregnancy; reproduction; transition

The question of how to conceive of the relation between the pregnant female and the embryo has become a recent focus of debate in the philosophical literature. Here we consider this problem in the context of current debates on individuality in the philosophy of biology by looking at how pregnancy is individuated in different disciplinary contexts. Firstly, we review different notions of biological individuality in the literature, examine how each of them applies to the case of pregnancy, and claim that recent work on the evolution of eutherian reproduction offers insights for new criteria for rethinking the individuality of pregnancy. Then, we reconstruct the main assumptions underlying the established biological account of pregnancy. Finally, we develop an alternative account based on the hypothesis that pregnancy is an evolved relational novelty and maintain that pregnant females are conceived as historical reproductive individuals. In the final section before the conclusions, we discuss how the historical reproductive biological individuality of pregnancy differs from, and coexists with, other views of individuality, and examine some of its consequences.

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