Beyond theoretical reduction and layer-cake antireduction: How DNA retooled genetics and transformed biological practice
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Watson and Crick’s discovery of the structure of DNA led to developments that transformed many biological sciences. But what were the relevant developments and how did they transform biology? Much of the philosophical discussion concerning this question can be organized around two opposing views: theoretical reductionism and layer-cake antireductionism. Theoretical reductionist and their anti-reductionist foes hold two assumptions in common. First, both hold that biological knowledge is structured like a layer cake, with some biological sciences, such as molecular biology cast at lower levels of organization, and others, such as classical genetics, cast at higher levels. Second, both assume that scientific knowledge is structured by theory and that the productivity of scientific research depends on whether the underlying theory identifies the fundamentals upon which the phenomena to be explained and investigated depend. In the first part of this paper, I challenge these assumptions. In the second part, I show how recasting the basic theory of classical genetics made it possible to retool the methodologies of genetics. It was the investigative power of these retooled methodologies, and not the explanatory power of a gene-based theory, that transformed biology.
|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
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Slobodan Perovic & Paul-Antoine Miquel (2011). On Gene's Action and Reciprocal Causation. Foundations of Science 16 (1):31-46.
Tudor M. Baetu (2012). Genes After the Human Genome Project. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):191-201.
Similar books and articles
Vanessa Lux (2008). The Concept of the Gene in Psychiatric Genetics and its Consequences for the Concept of Mental Illness. Poiesis and Praxis 6 (1-2):65-77.
Massimo Pigliucci (2008). The Proper Role of Population Genetics in Modern Evolutionary Theory. Biological Theory 3 (4):316-324.
Steven Orla Kimbrough (1979). On the Reduction of Genetics to Molecular Biology. Philosophy of Science 46 (3):389-406.
Richard M. Burian (2005). The Epistemology of Development, Evolution, and Genetics: Selected Essays. Cambridge University Press.
U. Deichmann (2004). Early Responses to Avery Et Al.'S Paper on DNA as Hereditary Material. Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences 34 (2):207-232.
C. Kenneth Waters (1990). Why the Antireductionist Consensus Won't Survive the Case of Classical Mendelian Genetics. Philosophy of Science Association 1:125-39.
Tudor M. Baetu (2011). Mechanism Schemas and the Relationship Between Biological Theories. In Phyllis McKay Illari Federica Russo (ed.), Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press.
A. Lindenmayer & N. Simon (1980). The Formal Structure of Genetics and the Reduction Problem. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:160 - 170.
David Lauer (2012). Expressivism and the Layer Cake Picture of Discursive Practice. Philosophia 40 (1):55-73.
Philip Gasper (1992). Reduction and Instrumentalism in Genetics. Philosophy of Science 59 (4):655-670.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads53 ( #36,823 of 1,679,387 )
Recent downloads (6 months)4 ( #59,909 of 1,679,387 )
How can I increase my downloads?