Axel Gelfert
Technische Universität Berlin
Synthetic biology presents a challenge to traditional accounts of biology: Whereas traditional biology emphasizes the evolvability, variability, and heterogeneity of living organisms, synthetic biology envisions a future of homogeneous, humanly engineered biological systems that may be combined in modular fashion. The present paper approaches this challenge from the perspective of the epistemology of technoscience. In particular, it is argued that synthetic-biological artifacts lend themselves to an analysis in terms of what has been called ‘thing knowledge’. As such, they should neither be regarded as the simple outcome of applying theoretical knowledge and engineering principles to specific technological problems, nor should they be treated as mere sources of new evidence in the general pursuit of scientific understanding. Instead, synthetic-biological artifacts should be viewed as partly autonomous research objects which, qua their material-biological constitution, embody knowledge about the natural world—knowledge that, in turn, can be accessed via continuous experimental interrogation.
Keywords thing knowledge  synthetic biology  technoscience
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2013.03.009
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References found in this work BETA

Modelling and Representing: An Artefactual Approach to Model-Based Representation.Tarja Knuuttila - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):262-271.
What’s so Special About Model Organisms?Rachel A. Ankeny & Sabina Leonelli - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):313-323.

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Citations of this work BETA

Scrutinizing Thing Knowledge.Sebastian Kletzl - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 47:118-123.
The Pasts, Presents, and Futures of Testimony.Nicholas Jardine & Marina Frasca-Spada - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 52:95-100.
The Simulation Approach in Synthetic Biology.Gabriele Gramelsberger - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (2):150-157.

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