The Dispositional Genome: Primus Inter Pares

Biology and Philosophy 30 (2):227-246 (2015)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

According to the proponents of Developmental Systems Theory and the Causal Parity Thesis, the privileging of the genome as “first among equals” with respect to the development of phenotypic traits is more a reflection of our own heuristic prejudice than of ontology - the underlying causal structures responsible for that specified development no more single out the genome as primary than they do other broadly “environmental” factors. Parting with the methodology of the popular responses to the Thesis, this paper offers a novel criterion for ‘causal primacy’, one that is grounded in the ontology of the unique causal role of dispositional properties. This paper argues that, if the genome is conceptualised as realising dispositional properties that are “directed toward” phenotypic traits, the parity of ‘causal roles’ between genetic and extra-genetic factors is no longer apparent, and further, that the causal primacy of the genome is both plausible and defensible.

Similar books and articles

Four Theories of Pure Dispositions.William A. Bauer - 2012 - In Alexander Bird, Brian Ellis & Howard Sankey (eds.), Properties, Powers, and Structures: Issues in the Metaphysics of Realism. Routledge. pp. 139-162.
Dispositional Explanations of Behavior.Rob Vanderbeeken & Erik Weber - 2002 - Behavior and Philosophy 30:43 - 59.
The Ontology of Pure Dispositions.William A. Bauer - 2010 - Dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
The dispositional essentialist view of properties and laws.Anjan Chakravartty - 2003 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 11 (4):393 – 413.
Do Extrinsic Dispositions Need Extrinsic Causal Bases?Gabriele Contessa - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (3):622-638.
Varieties of parity.Ulrich E. Stegmann - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (6):903-918.
Causal nominalism.Ann Whittle - 2009 - In Toby Handfield (ed.), Dispositions and Causes. Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press ;.
Dispositional and Causal Explanation.H. B. Dalrymple - 1975 - Southwestern Journal of Philosophy 6 (1):115-121.
Developmental causation and the problem of homology.David A. Baum - 2013 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 5 (20150505).
The Causal Efficacy of Macroscopic Dispositional Properties.Max Kistler - 2007 - In Max Kistler & Bruno Gnassounou (eds.), Dispositions and Causal Powers. Ashgate. pp. 103--132.

Analytics

Added to PP
2014-06-10

Downloads
601 (#27,083)

6 months
104 (#33,002)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Christopher J. Austin
Durham University

Citations of this work

Where Do You Get Your Protein? Or: Biochemical Realization.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (3):799-825.
Biological information.Peter Godfrey-Smith & Kim Sterelny - 2012 - In Peter Adamson (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.
Getting Causes From Powers.Stephen Mumford & Rani Lill Anjum - 2011 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press. Edited by Rani Lill Anjum.
Truth and truthmakers.D. M. Armstrong - 2004 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 36 (3):602-605.

View all 35 references / Add more references