Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 191–194 | Cite as

Commentary on “The transmission sense of information” by Carl T. Bergstrom and Martin Rosvall

  • James MaclaurinEmail author
Discussion Note

Debate about the nature of evolutionary and developmental information has, until now, reliably foundered between the Scylla of meaning and the Charybdis of causation. The idea that the genome carries semantic information promises an attractive conceptual analysis of talk about genes for eye colour or for breast cancer. This analysis has proved elusive. Genes are not invested with meaning in the way that words and symbols are invested with meaning. Even if a single gene produced my blue eyes, that eye colour would not be a cause of me coming to have the gene concerned in the way that, for example, mountains are a cause of us coming to have a word that represents mountains. No amount of genetic material represents fully formed morphological or physiological traits in the way that “mountain”, represents mountains. However, genes are reliable causes of traits, or at least reliable parts of causes of traits. Mathematical information theory, interpreted as the statistical analysis of...


Semantic Information Conceptual Analysis Biological Information Niche Construction Causal Information 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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