David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 27 (1):29-48 (2012)
Social scientific and humanistic research on synthetic biology has focused quite narrowly on questions of epistemology and ELSI. I suggest that to understand this discipline in its full scope, researchers must turn to the objects of the field—synthetic biological artifacts—and study them as the objects in the making of a science yet to be made. I consider one fundamentally important question: how should we understand the material products of synthetic biology? Practitioners in the field, employing a consistent technological optic in the study and construction of biological systems, routinely employ the mantra ‘biology is technology’. I explore this categorization. By employing an established definition of technological artifects drawn from the philosophy of technology, I explore the appropriateness of attributing to synthetic biological artifacts the four criteria of materiality, intentional design, functionality, and normativity. I then explore a variety of accounts of natural kinds. I demonstrate that synthetic biological artifacts fit each kind imperfectly, and display a concomitant ontological ‘messiness’. I argue that this classificatory ambivalence is a product of the field’s own nascence, and posit that further work on kinds might help synthetic biology evaluate its existing commitments and practices
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
John Dupré (1993). The Disorder of Things: Metaphysical Foundations of the Disunity of Science. Harvard University Press.
Robert C. Cummins (1975). Functional Analysis. Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Richard Boyd (1991). Realism, Anti-Foundationalism and the Enthusiasm for Natural Kinds. Philosophical Studies 61 (1-2):127-48.
Ingo Brigandt (2009). Natural Kinds in Evolution and Systematics: Metaphysical and Epistemological Considerations. Acta Biotheoretica 57 (1-2):77-97.
Citations of this work BETA
Axel Gelfert (2013). Synthetic Biology Between Technoscience and Thing Knowledge. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (2):141-149.
Pablo Schyfter (2015). Function by Agreement. Social Epistemology 29 (2):185-206.
Gry Oftedal & Veli-Pekka Parkkinen (2013). Synthetic Biology and Genetic Causation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (2):208-216.
Similar books and articles
Pablo Schyfter (2012). Standing Reserves of Function: A Heideggerian Reading of Synthetic Biology. Philosophy and Technology 25 (2):199-219.
Michel Morange (2013). Synthetic Biology: A Challenge to Mechanical Explanations in Biology? Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 55 (4):543-553.
Maureen O'Malley, Alexander Powell, Jonathan Davies & Jane Calvert (2008). Knowledge-Making Distinctions in Synthetic Biology. Bioessays 30 (1):57-65.
Ruth Mampuys & Frans W. A. Brom (2010). The Quiet Before the Storm: Anticipating Developments in Synthetic Biology. Poiesis and Praxis 7 (3):151-168.
Christophe Malaterre (2009). Can Synthetic Biology Shed Light on the Origin of Life? Biological Theory 4 (4):357-367.
T. Douglas & J. Savulescu (2010). Synthetic Biology and the Ethics of Knowledge. Journal of Medical Ethics 36 (11):687-693.
Maximilian Hörner, Nadine Reischmann & Wilfried Weber (2013). Synthetic Biology: Programming Cells for Biomedical Applications. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 55 (4):490-502.
Ute Deichmann, Michel Morange & Anthony S. Travis (2013). Editors' Introduction to Special Issue. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 55 (4):470-472.
Amy Gutmann (2011). The Ethics of Synthetic Biology: Guiding Principles for Emerging Technologies. Hastings Center Report 41 (4):17-22.
Anna Deplazes-Zemp (2012). The Conception of Life in Synthetic Biology. Science and Engineering Ethics 18 (4):757-774.
Patrick Heavey (2013). The Place of God in Synthetic Biology: How Will the Catholic Church Respond? Bioethics 27 (1):36-47.
Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent (2009). Synthetic Biology As a Replica of Synthetic Chemistry? Uses and Misuses of History. Biological Theory 4 (4):314-318.
John I. Glass (2013). Synthetic Genomics and the Construction of a Synthetic Bacterial Cell. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 55 (4):473-489.
Gregory E. Kaebnick (2011). Steps in the Analysis of Synthetic Biology. Hastings Center Report 41 (4):2-2.
Gregory Linshiz, Alex Goldberg, Tania Konry & Nathan J. Hillson (2013). The Fusion of Biology, Computer Science, and Engineering: Towards Efficient and Successful Synthetic Biology. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 55 (4):503-520.
Added to index2011-07-20
Total downloads43 ( #78,604 of 1,726,249 )
Recent downloads (6 months)4 ( #183,615 of 1,726,249 )
How can I increase my downloads?