What does it mean to be 75% pumpkin? The units of comparative genomics

Philosophy of Science 76 (5):838-850 (2009)
Abstract
Comparative genomicists seem to be convinced that the unit of measurement employed in their studies is a gene that drives the function of cells and ultimately organisms. As a result, they have come to some substantive conclusions about how similar humans are to other organisms based on the percentage of genetic makeup they share. I argue that the actual unit of measurement employed in the studies corresponds to a structural rather than a functional gene concept, thus rendering many of the implications drawn from comparative genomic studies largely unwarranted, if not completely mistaken. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Utah, 215 South Central Campus Drive, Carolyn Tanner Irish Humanities Building, 4th Floor, Salt Lake City, UT 84112; e‐mail: monika.piotrowska@utah.edu.
Keywords Human Genome  DNA  Comparative Genomics  Reduction  Similarity  Gene
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