Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 333–349 | Cite as

From symbolism to information? – Decoding the gene code

  • Frode KjosavikEmail author


‘Information’ and ‘code’ originated as technical terms within linguistics and information theory but are now widely used in genetics and developmental biology. Against this background, it is examined if coded information distinguishes genes from other information carriers, i.e., whether there are genetic words or sentences by virtue of the genetic code, and, if so, whether they have any semantic content. It is concluded that there is no genetic language with semantic content, but that the genetic code still enables unique language-like modes of transmission and interpretation of causal information.


Arbitrariness Causal information Code Functions Intentionality Semantic content Symbols 


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I am grateful to Kim Sterelny and an anonymous referee for comments on an earlier draft of this paper. I have also benefited from discussions with Nils Roll-Hansen.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and Resource Management (IØR)Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB)AasNorway

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