In Philosophy in the Library, philosophers from around the world tackle the big questions. In March, we hear from Derek Skillings.

You are a holobiont - a biological unit made up of a host and its associated microbiome (bacteria, protists, viruses and other microscopic entities). What consequences does this have for how we understand ourselves and other similar organisms? What are our spatial and temporal boundaries, and what does it mean to be a healthy holobiont? In this talk we will look at some alternatives for making sense of both holobiont individuality and “healthy holobiont/microbiome” talk. Derek Skillings will argue that existing accounts of human health are not appropriate for microbiomes, and that notions of ecosystem health face similar shortcomings. He will end by looking at some possibilities for understanding overall host health given the importance and ubiquity of microbiomes.

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