Competing research programmes on the origin of life

During the course of its short history the discipline concerned with the origin of life has given birth to several scientific programmes in the Lakatosian sense, two of the most prominent and widespread being those initiated by Oparin (life began from protein entities) and Muller-Haldane (life began from genetic entities). The present paper sets down the bases for the rational reconstruction of both views by identifying their hard core and some of their successive developments. An assessment is made of the various stages in the evolution of these programmes with respect to the crucial Lakatosian notions of progressivity and regressivity and of how their arguments stand up against one another. This epistemological analysis also establishes the internal reasons why the RNA version of the genotype programme (developed in particular by L. Orgel and S. Spiegelman) has today taken on a progressive character and enjoys recognition by the international scientific community
Keywords Imre Lakatos  Scientific Research Programmes  Rational Reconstruction  Origin of Life Theories  Oparin-S. Fox  Haldane-Muller  Orgel-Crick-Spiegelman  Ribozymes  Qßreplicase System
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