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Appears in Collections:Law and Philosophy Book Chapters and Sections
Title: Traits, Genes, and Coding
Author(s): Wheeler, Michael
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Editor(s): Matthen, Mohan
Stephens, Christopher
Gabbay, Dov M
Thagard, Paul
Woods, John
Citation: Wheeler M (2007) Traits, Genes, and Coding. In: Matthen Mohan, Stephens Christopher, Gabbay Dov M, Thagard Paul, Woods John (ed.). Philosophy of Biology. Handbook of the Philosophy of Science, Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 369-399.
Keywords: genetic code
genetic information
causal spread
Issue Date: 2007
Series/Report no.: Handbook of the Philosophy of Science
Abstract: According to the received view in biology, genes code for phenotypic traits during development. However, there are reasons to think that the massively distributed character of the causal systems underlying development is in tension with such representational talk about genes. The main contenders from the literature that purport to establish that genes are genuine coding elements in development fail to meet this challenge. An alternative and superior strategy for understanding and justifying coding talk in development turns on the fact that the process of protein synthesis exhibits the interlocking architectural features of arbitrariness and homuncularity. However, this proposal turns out to have the radical implication that it is mRNA, not DNA, that codes. Moreover, for any of the available strategies, including the one recommended here, there is a serious and unresolved issue surrounding the attempt to extend the reach of coding talk from proteins to traits.
Rights: The publisher has granted permission for use of this book chapter in this Repository. The chapter was first published in Philosophy of Biology, Handbook of the Philosophy of Science by Elsevier.; This chapter was published in Philosophy of Biology, Handbook of the Philosophy of Science, Michael Wheeler, 'Traits, Genes, and Coding', pp. 369 - 399, Copyright Elsevier 2007.
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