A Critical Perspective on Synthetic Biology

Hyle 15 (1):21 - 30 (2009)
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Abstract

Synthetic biology emerged around 2000 as a new biological discipline. It shares with systems biology the same modular vision of organisms, but is more concerned with applications than with a better understanding of the functioning of organisms. A herald of this new discipline is Craig Venter who aims to create an artificial microorganism with the minimal genome compatible with life and to implement into it different 'functional modules' to generate new micro-organisms adapted to specific tasks. Synthetic biology is based on the possibilities raised by genetic engineering, but it aims to engineer organisms, and not simply to modify them, mimicking the practice of computer engineers. Three points will be discussed: In what regard does synthetic biology represent a new epistemology of the life sciences? What are the relations between synthetic biology and evolutionary biology? What is the raison d'être of synthetic biology as a discipline independent of nanotechnologies?

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Citations of this work

Synthetic biology between technoscience and thing knowledge.Axel Gelfert - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (2):141-149.
Creating parts that allow for rational design: Synthetic biology and the problem of context-sensitivity.Stephan Güttinger - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (2):199-207.
What will result from the interaction between functional and evolutionary biology?Michel Morange - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (1):69-74.

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