David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In David L. Hull & Michael Ruse (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Philosophy of Biology. Cambridge University Press (2007)
The historian Raphael Falk has described the gene as a ‘concept in tension’ (Falk 2000) – an idea pulled this way and that by the differing demands of different kinds of biological work. Several authors have suggested that in the light of contemporary molecular biology ‘gene’ is no more than a handy term which acquires a specific meaning only in a specific scientific context in which it occurs. Hence the best way to answer the question ‘what is a gene’, and the only way to provide a truly philosophical answer to that question is to outline the diversity of conceptions of the gene and the reasons for this diversity. In this essay we draw on the extensive literature in the history of biology to explain how the concept has changed over time in response to the changing demands of the biosciences . Finally, we outline some of the conceptions of the gene current today. The seeds of change are implicit in many of those current conceptions and the future of the gene concept looks set to be at as turbulent as the past.
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Citations of this work BETA
Rosario M. Piro (2011). Are All Genes Regulatory Genes? Biology and Philosophy 26 (4):595-602.
Karola Stotz (2009). Experimental Philosophy of Biology: Notes From the Field. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (2):233-237.
Tudor M. Baetu (2012). Genes After the Human Genome Project. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):191-201.
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