Weakness of the Scientific Hypotheses about the Origin of Life

  • Tonći Kokić Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Split
Słowa kluczowe: origin of first life, unique event, scope of theories, self-organization principle, microreversibility, philosophy of biology


This paper makes a case for the weakness of the scientific hypotheses about the origin of first life (hereafter OoL). There is no consensus on when, where, and — most importantly — how and why life emerged on Earth. There are significant impediments to the scientific explanation of OoL, at least in relation to the accepted (meta)heuristic postulates of scientific study of OoL and (meta)theoretical postulates that hypotheses must satisfy to be recognized as true explanations and not just-so stories. Following these rules and methodologies did not help to bridge the gap between the most complex inorganic components and the simplest living entities. The main arguments for the weakness of the scientific hypotheses about OoL are: (i) there is no scientific hypothesis that successfully explains OoL, and (ii) there is an evident experimental failure of the attempts to (re)create life from inorganic components. The long-term resistance of the problem and the weakness of the hypotheses about OoL stem from the commitment to the ontology of repeated occurrences and/or from inappropriate epistemological-methodological tools used to explain the transition from inorganic to simple life forms (exclusively by means of the “language” and methodology of physical-chemical sciences). Accordingly, either the scientific study of OoL rests on a mistake or science must reduce the scope of phenomena that can be scientifically explained.


Ayala F. (2009), "There Is No Place for Intelligent Design in the Philosophy of Biology: Intelligent Design Is Not Science" [in:] Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Biology, F. Ayala, R. Arp (eds.), Malden, MA: Blackwell, 364-391.
Crick F. (1981), Life Itself. Its Origin and Nature, New York: Simon and Schuster.
Darwin C. (1979), The Origin of Species, New York: Gramercy Books.
Deamer D. (2011), First Life: Discovering the Connections between Stars, Cells, and How Life Began, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Eigen M. (2013), From Strange Simplicity to Complex Familiarity: A Treatise on Matter, Information, Life and Thought, Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198570219.001.0001
Fry I. (2000), The Emergence of Life on Earth: A Historical and Scientific Overview, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Glymour C. (1980), Theory and Evidence, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Griesemer J. (2008), "Origins of Life Studies" [in:] The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology, M. Ruse (ed.), New York: Oxford University Press, 263-290. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195182057.003.0012
Haldane J. B. S. (1929), "The Origin of Life", Rationalist Annual 148: 3-10.
Hazen R. M. (2005), Genesis. The Scientific Quest for Life Origin, Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press.
Hempel C. (1965), Aspects of Scientific Explanation and Other Essays in the Philosophy of Science, New York: Free Press.
Hoyle F., Wickramansinghe C. (1981), Evolution and Space, London: M. J. Dent and Sons.
Morowitz H., (1992), Beginning of Cellular Life. Metabolism, Recapitulations, Biogenesis, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Oparin A. I. (1924), Proiskhozhdenie zhizni, Moscow: Moskovskii Rabochii.
Oró J. (2002), Historical Understanding of Life's Beginnings [in:] Life's Origin. The Beginnings of Biological Evolution, J. W. Schopf (ed.), Berkeley–Los Angeles: University of California Press, 7-46.
Penny D. (2005), "An Interpretative Review of the Origin of Life Research", Biology and Philosophy 20, 633-671. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10539-004-7342-6
Penrose R. (1989), The Emperor's New Mind. Concerning Computers, Minds and the Laws of Physics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Reichenbach B. (2016), "Cosmological Argument" [in:] The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition), E. N. Zalta (ed.), https://goo.gl/7o5uiG.
Rosenberg A. (1985), The Structure of Biological Science, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139171724
Sarkar S. (2005), Molecular Models of Life. Philosophical Papers on Molecular Biology, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Service F. (2015), "Researchers May Have Solved Origin-of-Life Conundrum", Science, 16.03.2015, doi: 10.1126/science.aab0325, https://goo.gl/zv1pXZ. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aab0325
Sesardić N. (2003), "Evolution of Human Jealousy. A Just-So Story or a Just-So Criticism?", Philosophy of the Social Sciences 33(4), 427-443. https://doi.org/10.1177/0048393103257964
Spitzer J., Pielak G. J., Poolman B. (2015), "Emergence of Life: Physical Chemistry Changes the Paradigm", Biology Direct 10(33), 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13062-015-0060-y
Tucker A. (1998), "Unique Events. The Underdetermination of Explanation", Erkenntnis 48(1), 59-80. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1005315532171
Yockey P. H. (2005), Information Theory, Evolution and the Origin of Life, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511546433
Waddington C. H. (ed.) (2009), The Origin of Life. Toward a Theoretical Biology, New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine Transaction.
Walsh D. (2008), Teleology [in:] The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology, M. Ruse (ed.), New York: Oxford University Press, 113-138.
White R. (2007), "Does Origins of Life Research Rest on a Mistake", Noûs 41(3), 453-477. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0068.2007.00655.x
Woodward J. (2014), "Scientific Explanation" [in:] The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014 Edition), E. N. Zalta (ed.), https://goo.gl/ogPKr.
© University of Warsaw. All rights reserved.
Jak cytować
Kokić, T. (2018). Weakness of the Scientific Hypotheses about the Origin of Life. Filozofia Nauki, 26(1), 9-21. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.14394/filnau.2018.0001