, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 381-395

Four Principles of Evolutionary Pragmatics in Jacob's Philosophy of Modern Biology

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Abstract

The French molecular biologist François Jacob outlined a theory of evolution as tinkering. From a methodological point of view, his approach can be seen as a biologic specification of the relation between laws, describing coherently the dynamics of a system, and contingent boundary conditions on this dynamics. From a semiotic perspective, tinkering is a pragmatic concept well-known from the information-theoretic anthropology of Claude Lévi-Strauss. In idealized contrast to an engineer, the tinkerer has to accept the concrete restrictions on his material resources as only gradually changeable constraints on his projects. Jacobian biopragmatics examines evolution as a biologic analogue to human tinkering devoid of any projecting subjectivity. To validate this analogy, four basic principles concerning main formal aspects of evolutionary objects, agents, histories, and consistency criteria are proposed.

This revised version was published online in October 2005 with corrections to the Cover Date.