A Kernel of Truth? On the Reality of the Genetic Program

PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1992:335 - 348 (1992)
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Abstract

The existence claim of a "genetic program" encoded in the DNA molecule which controls biological processes such as development has been examined. Sources of belief in such an entity are found in the rhetoric of Mendelian genetics, in the informationist speculations of Schrodinger and Delbruck, and in the instrumental efficacy found in the use of certain viral, and molecular genetic techniques. In examining specific research models, it is found that attempts at tracking the source of biological control always leads back to the complex state of a cell as a whole, the organizational structure of which is not itself encoded in the DNA. It is argued that the "genetic program" is not an existing biological entity and its philosophical and heuristic status is challenged.

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Lenny Moss
University of Exeter

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