Authors
Oliver Lean
University of Bristol
Abstract
Jacques Monod (1971) argued that certain molecular processes rely critically on the property of chemical arbitrariness, which he claimed allows those processes to “transcend the laws of chemistry”. It seems natural, as some philosophers have done, to interpret this in modal terms: a biological relationship is chemically arbitrary if it is possible, within the constraints of chemical “law”, for that relationship to have been otherwise than it is. But while modality is certainly important for understanding chemical arbitrariness, understanding its biological role also requires an account of the concrete causal-functional features that distinguish arbitrary from non-arbitrary phenomena. In this paper I elaborate on this under-emphasised aspect by offering a general account of these features: arbitrary relations are instantiated by mechanisms that involve molecular adapters, which causally couple two properties or processes which would otherwise be uncorrelated. Additionally, adapters work by acting as intermediate rather than cooperating causes
Keywords molecular genetics  modality  scientific laws  causation  Jacques Monod
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2019.101180
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

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

Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Functional Analysis.Robert Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.

View all 18 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Arbitrariness of the Genetic Code.Ulrich E. Stegmann - 2004 - Biology and Philosophy 19 (2):205-222.
Causal Explanation and the Periodic Table.Lauren N. Ross - forthcoming - Synthese 198 (1):79-103.
Causal Concepts in Chemical Vernaculars.Rom Harré - 2010 - Foundations of Chemistry 12 (2):101-115.
On Peter Klein's Concept of Arbitrariness.Coos Engelsma - 2014 - Metaphilosophy 45 (2):192-200.
Crick's Notion of Genetic Information and the 'Central Dogma' of Molecular Biology.Predrag Šustar - 2007 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (1):13-24.
Crick's Notion of Genetic Information and the ‘Central Dogma’ of Molecular Biology.Predrag Šustar - 2007 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (1):13-24.
Biological Information, Causality and Specificity - an Intimate Relationship.Karola Stotz & Paul E. Griffiths - 2017 - In Sara Imari Walker, Paul Davies & George Ellis (eds.), From Matter to Life: Information and Causality. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 366-390.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2019-07-05

Total views
68 ( #170,489 of 2,519,681 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
16 ( #50,455 of 2,519,681 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes