Foundations of Science 12 (4):337-366 (2007)

Authors
Giuseppe Longo
École Normale Supérieure
Abstract
The “DNA is a program” metaphor is still widely used in Molecular Biology and its popularization. There are good historical reasons for the use of such a metaphor or theoretical model. Yet we argue that both the metaphor and the model are essentially inadequate also from the point of view of Physics and Computer Science. Relevant work has already been done, in Biology, criticizing the programming paradigm. We will refer to empirical evidence and theoretical writings in Biology, although our arguments will be mostly based on a comparison with the use of differential methods (in Molecular Biology: a mutation or alike is observed or induced and its phenotypic consequences are observed) as applied in Computer Science and in Physics, where this fundamental tool for empirical investigation originated and acquired a well-justified status. In particular, as we will argue, the programming paradigm is not theoretically sound as a causal(as in Physics) or deductive(as in Programming) framework for relating the genome to the phenotype, in contrast to the physicalist and computational grounds that this paradigm claims to propose.
Keywords Genome  Programming theory  Differential methods in Physics and Biology  System Biology
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2008
DOI 10.1007/s10699-007-9111-x
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 62,618
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

Computing Machinery and Intelligence.Alan M. Turing - 1950 - Mind 59 (October):433-60.
The Foundations of Arithmetic.Gottlob Frege - 1953 - Evanston: Ill., Northwestern University Press.

View all 17 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

A Symmetrical Approach to Causality in Biology.Nicole Perret - 2012 - Philosophia Scientae 16:177-195.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Reductionism Redux: Computing the Embryo. [REVIEW]Alex Rosenberg - 1997 - Biology and Philosophy 12 (4):445-470.
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.
Theory Structure and Theory Change in Contemporary Molecular Biology.Sylvia Culp & Philip Kitcher - 1989 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 40 (4):459-483.
Naturalists, Molecular Biologists, and the Challenges of Molecular Evolution.Joel B. Hagen - 1999 - Journal of the History of Biology 32 (2):321 - 341.
Approximations, Idealizations and 'Experiments' at the Physics-Biology Interface.Darrell Patrick Rowbottom - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (2):145-154.
Molecular Biology and the Unity of Science.Harold Kincaid - 1990 - Philosophy of Science 57 (4):575-593.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
55 ( #192,462 of 2,446,658 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #456,908 of 2,446,658 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes