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The Concept of Information in Biology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2022

John Maynard Smith*
Affiliation:
School of Biological Science, University of Sussex

Abstract

The use of informational terms is widespread in molecular and developmental biology. The usage dates back to Weismann. In both protein synthesis and in later development, genes are symbols, in that there is no necessary connection between their form (sequence) and their effects. The sequence of a gene has been determined, by past natural selection, because of the effects it produces. In biology, the use of informational terms implies intentionality, in that both the form of the signal, and the response to it, have evolved by selection. Where an engineer sees design, a biologist sees natural selection.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © 2000 by the Philosophy of Science Association

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Footnotes

Send request for reprints to the author, School of Biological Science, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QG, Great Britain.

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