DNA, Inference, and Information

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This paper assesses Sarkar's ([2003]) deflationary account of genetic information. On Sarkar's account, genes carry information about proteins because protein synthesis exemplifies what Sarkar calls a ‘formal information system’. Furthermore, genes are informationally privileged over non-genetic factors of development because only genes enter into arbitrary relations to their products (in virtue of the alleged arbitrariness of the genetic code). I argue that the deflationary theory does not capture four essential features of the ordinary concept of genetic information: intentionality, exclusiveness, asymmetry, and causal relevance. It is therefore further removed from what is customarily meant by genetic information than Sarkar admits. Moreover, I argue that it is questionable whether the account succeeds in demonstrating that information is theoretically useful in molecular genetics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Issue number1
Early online date8 Jan 2009
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


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