From symbolism to information? – Decoding the gene code
- 140 Downloads
‘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.
KeywordsArbitrariness Causal information Code Functions Intentionality Semantic content Symbols
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
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.
- Dennett D.C. (1987) The Intentional Stance. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
- Dretske F. (1981) Knowledge and the Flow of Information. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Gray R. (1992) Death of the gene: developmental systems strike back. In: Griffiths et al. (ed.), Trees of Life: Essays in the Philosophy of Biology, Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp. 1–2Google Scholar
- Gray R., Griffiths P., Oyama S. (eds) (2001) Cycles of Contingency. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
- Jablonka E. 2001. The systems of inheritance. In: Gray et al. (eds.) Cycles of Contingency: Developmental Systems and Evolution, MIT Press, Cambridge, pp. 99–116Google Scholar
- Mahner M., Bunge M. (1997) Foundations of Biophilosophy. Springer-Verlag, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Moss L. (2004) What Genes Can’t Do. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA/LondonGoogle Scholar
- Oyama S. (2000) The Ontogeny of Information. Duke University Press, Durham, NCGoogle Scholar
- Sober E. (1984) The Nature of Selection. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
- Sterelny K., Griffiths P.E. (1999) Sex and Death. An Introduction to Philosophy of Biology. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago/LondonGoogle Scholar
- Vitreschak A.G. et al., (2004). Riboswitches: the oldest mechanism for the regulation of gene expression? Trends Genet. 20(1):44–50Google Scholar