Article

Beyond Theoretical Reduction and Layer‐Cake Antireduction: How DNA Retooled Genetics and Transformed Biological Practice

C. Kenneth Waters

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780195182057
Published online September 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195182057.003.0011

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Beyond Theoretical Reduction and Layer‐Cake Antireduction: How DNA Retooled Genetics and Transformed Biological Practice

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Watson and Crick's discovery of the structure of DNA transformed biology by providing a basis for explaining a wide variety of phenomena. Philosophical discussion concerning this discovery can be organized around two opposing views: theoretical reductionism and layer-cake antireductionism. The view about genetics that emerges from “theoretical reductionism” is of a two-tiered science: an upper tier of theoretical principles associated with the classical theory of genetics and a lower tier of theoretical principles about molecular processes involving DNA. The view about genetics that emerges from antireductionist view is also of a two-tiered science: an upper tier of theoretical principles aimed at explaining transmission phenomena and a lower tier of theoretical principles aimed at explaining phenomena of replication and expression of the genetic material.

Keywords: DNA; theoretical reductionism; theoretical antireductionism; genetics; science; classical; theory; molecular

Article.  10683 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science ; Metaphysics

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