Article ID: CBB904878427

The Multifaceted Legacy of the Human Genome Program for Evolutionary Biology: An Epistemological Perspective (2019)


This paper discusses the claim that alternative views to evolutionary biology based on novel advances in understanding the molecular and developmental bases of variation and inheritance should be captured as a shift from "statistical" to "mechanistic" explanatory schemes (Pigliucci and Müller 2011). Granted, statistical approaches characterized the Modern Synthesis, but by examining the epistemic features of postgenomic science I claim that this is not a proper characterization of the current epistemic shift. I will first characterize the dual nature of the gene in development and inheritance, accounting for it in terms of difference between two sorts of causal ascriptions. Following the shift in postgenomic science regarding the concepts of genes, variation and inheritance, I will first argue that, in contrast to mechanistic explanations, the shift provides us with novel topological explanatory frameworks to approach genomic networks of many sorts, and novel and nucleotide-focused statistical tools unlikely to translate directly into the mechanistic modeling of causal roles. I claim that instead of addressing epistemic changes on the basis of the classical statistics vs. mechanisms difference one should rather acknowledge the diversification of explanatory modes proper to postgenomic science, and to the consequences of this for evolutionary biology.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Chapter Jablonka, Eva; (2011)
Lamarckian Problematics in Biology (/isis/citation/CBB001500093/)

Article James W. E. Lowe; (2016)
Normal development and experimental embryology: Edmund Beecher Wilson and Amphioxus (/isis/citation/CBB114945953/)

Article Ramya M. Rajagopalan; Joan H. Fujimura; (2018)
Variations on a Chip: Technologies of Difference in Human Genetics Research (/isis/citation/CBB608950943/)

Article Antonine Nicoglou; Francesca Merlin; (2017)
Epigenetics: A way to bridge the gap between biological fields (/isis/citation/CBB128944502/)

Article Alessandro Minelli; (2020)
Genes, embryos and evolution (/isis/citation/CBB307786830/)

Book Davies, Kevin; (2002)
Cracking the Genome: Inside the Race to Unlock Human DNA (/isis/citation/CBB000301613/)

Book Ayala, Francisco José; Arp, Robert; (2010)
Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Biology (/isis/citation/CBB001032775/)

Article Michael D. Edge; Noah A. Rosenberg; (2015)
Implications of the apportionment of human genetic diversity for the apportionment of human phenotypic diversity (/isis/citation/CBB310359830/)

Book Merlin, Francesca; (2013)
Mutations et aléas: le hasard dans la théorie de l'évolution (/isis/citation/CBB001510451/)

Article Thomas A. C. Reydon; Markus Scholz; (2015)
Searching for Darwinism in Generalized Darwinism (/isis/citation/CBB384666113/)

Article Christopher Lean; Anya Plutynski; (2015)
The Evolution of Failure: Explaining Cancer as an Evolutionary Process (/isis/citation/CBB642681425/)

Article Vermeulen, Niki; Parker, John N.; Penders, Bart; (2013)
Understanding Life Together: A Brief History of Collaboration in Biology (/isis/citation/CBB001213643/)

Article Futuyma, Douglas J.; (2012)
Robert R. Sokal (1926--2012) (/isis/citation/CBB001320465/)

Article Vermeulen, Niki; Parker, John N.; Penders, Bart; (2013)
Understanding Life Together: A Brief History of Collaboration in Biology (/isis/citation/CBB001320293/)

Book Marta Bertolaso; (2016)
Philosophy of Cancer: A Dynamic and Relational View (/isis/citation/CBB861389798/)

Article Lindsay R. Craig; (2014)
Neo-Darwinism and Evo-Devo: An Argument for Theoretical Pluralism in Evolutionary Biology (/isis/citation/CBB135771163/)

Article Schulz, Armin; (2013)
Exaptation, Adaptation, and Evolutionary Psychology (/isis/citation/CBB001320176/)

Article Eric D. Green; Christopher R. Donohue; (2018)
Special Issue Editors' Introduction: "Genomics and the Human Genome Project" (/isis/citation/CBB061547384/)

Authors & Contributors
Merlin, Francesca
Vermeulen, Niki
Penders, Bart
Parker, John N.
Markus Scholz
Fasolo, Aldo
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Journal of the History of Biology
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Mefisto: Rivista di medicina, filosofia, storia
Perspectives on Science
Johns Hopkins University Press
Evolutionary developmental biology
Developmental biology
Variation (biology)
Waddington, Conrad Hal
Lamarck, Jean Baptiste Antoine Pierre de Monet de
Wilson, Edmund Beecher
Sokal, Robert R.
Johannsen, Wilhelm Ludvig
Hodgson, Geoffrey M.
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
20th century
19th century
United States
Human Genome Project
Census of Marine Life (1999-2009)

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment