Contributors discuss alternatives to the programmatic view of dna, including the developmental systems approach, methodical culturalism, the molecular process concept of the gene, the hermeneutic theory of description, and process structuralist biology. None of the approaches cast doubt on the notion that dna is tremendously important to biological life on earth; rather, contributors examine different ideas of how dna should be represented, evaluated, and explained. Just as ideas about genetic codes have reached far beyond the realm of science, the reconceptualizations of genetic theory in this volume have broad implications for ethics, philosophy, and the social sciences.
Contributors. Thomas Bürglin, Brian C. Goodwin, James Griesemer, Paul Griffiths, Jesper Hoffmeyer, Evelyn Fox Keller, Gerd B. Müller, Eva M. Neumann-Held, Stuart A. Newman, Susan Oyama, Christoph Rehmann-Sutter, Sahotra Sarkar, Jackie Leach Scully, Gerry Webster, Ulrich Wolf
Information, says Oyama, is thought to reside in molecules, cells, tissues, and the environment. When something wondrous occurs in the world, we tend to question whether the information guiding the transformation was pre-encoded in the organism or installed through experience or instruction. Oyama looks beyond this either-or question to focus on the history of such developments. She shows that what developmental “information” does depends on what is already in place and what alternatives are available. She terms this process “constructive interactionism,” whereby each combination of genes and environmental influences simultaneously interacts to produce a unique result. Ontogeny, then, is the result of dynamic and complex interactions in multileveled developmental systems.
The Ontogeny of Information challenges specialists in the fields of developmental biology, philosophy of biology, psychology, and sociology, and even nonspecialists, to reexamine the existing nature-nurture dichotomy as it relates to the history and formation of organisms.
In these papers, philosophers and biologists compare and contrast key concepts in evolutionary developmental biology and their development since the original, seminal Dahlem conference on evolution and development held in Berlin in 1981. Many of the original scientific participants from the 1981 conference are also contributors to this new volume and, in conjunction with other expert biologists and philosophers specializing on these topics, provide an authoritative, comprehensive view on the subject.
Taken together, the papers supply novel perspectives on how and why the conceptual landscape has shifted and stabilized in particular ways, yielding insights into the dynamic epistemic changes that have occurred over the past three decades. This volume will appeal to philosophers of biology studying conceptual change, evolutionary developmental biologists focused on comprehending the genesis of their field and evaluating its future directions, and historians of biology examining this period when the intersection of evolution and development rose again to prominence in biological science.
Brings together a team of eminent scholars to explore the philosophical issues raised by biology Addresses traditional and emerging topics, spanning molecular biology and genetics, evolution, developmental biology, immunology, ecology, mind and behaviour, neuroscience, and experimentation Begins with a thorough introduction to the field Goes beyond previous treatments that focused only on evolution to give equal attention to other areas, such as molecular and developmental biology Represents both an authoritative guide to philosophy of biology, and an accessible reference work for anyone seeking to learn about this rapidly-changing field
The volume is organized into three main sections: historical perspectives, contested models, and emerging frameworks. The first section explores the origins of the modern idea of organism-environment interaction in the mid-nineteenth century and its development by later psychologists and anthropologists. In the second section, a variety of controversial models—from mathematical representations of evolution to model organisms in medical research—are discussed and reframed in light of recent questions about the interplay between organisms and environment. The third section investigates several new ideas that have the potential to reshape key aspects of the biological and social sciences.
Populations of organisms evolve in response to changing environments; bodies and minds depend on a wide array of circumstances for their development; cultures create complex relationships with the natural world even as they alter it irrevocably. The chapters in this volume share a commitment to unraveling the mysteries of this entangled life.
This is the book Richard Dawkins was meant to write: a brilliant assessment of what science is (and isn't), a tribute to science not because it is useful but because it is uplifting.