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Looking at the Fox papers, I see that he and Pappelis do propose that the protocells are alive, and even propose a new domain of life for them. Looking at Fox's paper in Fox SW. "Synthesis of life in the lab? Defining a protoliving system. Quarterly Review of Biology, 1991 Jun, 66(2):181-5.
"The synthesis of a living system in the lab has been judged by a
number of critics as partly attained by the proteinoid microsphere because of
its primitive properties of metabolism, growth, and reproduction. These same
critics, however, judge the organism as not alive, or as being 50 to 75
percent alive (Baltscheffsky and Jurka, 1984), owing to the absence of a
nucleic acid genetic coding mechanism. ... Berra
(1990, p. 75) has commented on other difficulties in defining a protoliving
system. In Berra's opinion, metabolism, reproduction, responsiveness to
stimuli, and cellularity constitute or describe aliveness. These properties
characterize proteinoid microspheres."
So, the question arises whether Baltscheffsky and Jurka and others have manipulated the definition of "life" to exclude the protocells.