Molecular and systems biology and bioethics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


Molecular biology has set itself the task of looking for the fundamental pieces with which the biological jigsaw is to be put together. Not surprisingly (but with surprising efficacy), it has found many of them, and there are certainly more to come. Once found, these pieces can be arranged on a page next to one another in a reasonable sequence, and … Behold! An organism! Well, not quite. The philosophy of molecular biology was, for a time, entirely preoccupied with reduction and reductionism: primarily the reduction of classical genetics to molecular genetics (Kitcher 1984, Waters 1994, Sarkar 1998), but also and more recently the reduction of complex organismal phenotypes to genes (Rosenberg 1997, Sarkar 1998). While these remain of substantial interest, some new areas of interest have also emerged, including philosophical attention to molecular mechanisms (Machamer, Craver, and Darden 2000, Darden and Tabery 2005) and mathematical models (Keller 2002, Sarkar 2005). In-depth focus on the intricate details of the science is increasingly commonplace (e.g., Schaffner 2000, Burian 2004, Sarkar 2005). Molecular biology has also proved to be of philosophical interest not only for its own sake, but also in the service of molecular explanations of evolution (e.g., Burian 2004), disease (e.g., Kitcher 1996), and behavior (e.g., Schaffner 2000), inter alia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to the Philosophy of Biology
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781139001588
ISBN (Print)9780521851282
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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