There is a distinction between being autonomic, obeying self-law, and allonomic, obeying some other’s law. Machines are allonomic. Allonomic means other law. Other law means that the machine’s builder specifies the laws by which a machine operates. Laws refer to the causal connections within the machine. Machines are assembled piece by piece by the machine’s builder.
This contrasts with the requirement for living organisms to be autonomic. This means they follow their own internal law. External force may be used, but the organism will rebel as soon as the force is removed. Free will plays a key role in the functioning of a living organism. A living organism requires adaptive intelligence. Living organisms are a pure democracy with each entity making choices for itself autonomously and at the same time for the benefit of the whole organism. There is no command hierarchy. Each cell has a maximum degree of freedom subject only to coherence conditions. All living organisms are self-creating, i.e., autopoietic — autopoiesis requires self-creation, self-correction and self-reference. Autopoiesis requires autonomy. Living organisms come into being as a whole and grow into maturity as a whole.
Norm Hirst, Towards a Science of Life as Creative Organisms, Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 4, Nos 1-2 (2008)
Norm Hirst, Research findings to date, The Autognomics Institute
Norm Hirst, Life as Field Being – Part I, The Autognomics Institute
Norm Hirst, Life as Field Being – Part II, The Autognomics Institute
Norm Hirst, Life-itself as organism characteristics, The Autognomics Institute
Norm Hirst, Values are “coherence conditions” of life, The Autognomics Institute
Norm Hirst, Unique Characteristics of New Science, The Autognomics Institute