The Influence of Genetics on Contemporary Thinking
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The Influence of Genetics on Contemporary Thinking

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6, Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science
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"This volume reflects on the effects of recent discoveries in genetics on a broad range of scientific fields. In addition to neuroscience, evolutionary biology, anthropology and medicine, contributors analyze the effects of genetics on theories of health, law, epistemology and philosophy of biology. Social and moral concerns about the relationship between genetics, society and the individual also figure prominently. Genetic discoveries fuel central contemporary public policy debates concerning, for example, human cloning, equitable access to healthcare or the role of genetics in medicine. Perhaps more fundamentally, advances in genetics are altering our perception of human life and death.
Genetics And The Life Sciences.- Genetics and the human lineage.- Genetics and Neuroscience.- Who made the Genetic Codes, How and by What?.- Genetics, Life and Death.- Genetics and Philosophy of Science: The Reductionism Debate and Beyond.- Moving beyond the influence of molecular genetics on the debate about reductionism in philosophy of biology.- The Concept of the Gene in Contemporary Biology: Continuity or Dissolution?.- The Influence of Genetics on Philosophy of Science.- Epi-Geneticization.- Genetics and the Ethical, Legal and Sociological Debate.- Is DNA Revolutionizing Medicine?.- The Harm of Being a Clone.- Children of One's Own.- Is a Transcultural Law for Human Genetics and Biotechnology Possible?.- Genetics and Society: a Different View.
1. INTRODUCTION Definedasthebranchofbiologydealingwithheredityandthemechanicsofgene transmission from one generation to the next, genetics first made its appearance on the scientific scene at the beginning of the 20th century when H. de Vries, C. Correns and E. von Tschermak re-discovered the extraordinary experimental work of Mendel. It was this re-discovery that in just a few years gave rise to theunprecedentedandexplosivedevelopmentofanewexperimentalapproachin biology which was to provide the foundations of our modern understanding of medicalandevolutionarybiologicalphenomenaarevolution,onemightsay. And yet it is only as of the 1970s that we speak of a revolution of genetics, as if the birth of genetics itself decades earlier had little or no transcendence in the historyofscience. Thisseemingparadoxmaybeexplainedbydrawingadistinction betweentherevolutionsignifyingthebirthwithintherealmofbasicscienceofthe very concept of genetics at the beginning of last century and the revolution of geneticswhichwenowadaysassociatewiththeoutstandingsuccessofgeneticsas amethodologywherehypothesesongenefunctionsaretested,especiallyinrelation to genetic engineering. It is not really the traditional distinction between pure andappliedsciencewhichishereatstakebutratheracomplexrelationbetween twoaspectsofscienceinconstantinterchange,namelytheoryandpractice,where onecannotbefullydevelopedwithouttheother. Indeedgeneticengineeringhas become indispensable by the acquisition of fundamental knowledge on genetics. In some respects the initial emergence of genetics might be assimilated to the emergenceofaparadigm,Mendelslawsbecomingrapidlyandfirmlyembraced byleadingmembersofthescientificcommunitytoreplaceformerparadigmsby an interweaving of controversies within several sciences searching to elucidate problemsoldandnew. Theinterplayofthesetwoaspectsofscienceandresearchgivesusinsightinto the capital importance of genetics today. Genetics as both theory and praxis is omnipresent in contemporary thinking; there are few, if any, disciplines where genetics does not exert its influence in one way or another. It is this increasing pertinence of genetics to the sciences that explains the inclusion of this volume intheseriesLogic,EpistemologyandtheUnityofScience:acommonfactorin sciencebecomesipsofactoafactorofunity. vii viii Preface Geneticsmaynotbeofdirectrelevancetoallfieldsofscience,andyetfora numberofreasonstheconceptofgeneticsisatthecentreofmuchoftodayssci- tificdiscussionandsocialdebate. Geneticshasbecomethetouchstoneforresolving manyofthecontroversiesinbasicresearchdealingwiththenature,history,and evolutionoflife,aswellastheoriginofmanandethnicgroups,providinguswith thetoolsthathaveledtosomeofthemostastonishingadvancesindetermining thestructureandfunctionoflivingentitiesandbeingabletomodifyorganisms. Geneticallyengineeredproducts,substantialalterationsinplants,animalsandmic- organisms,andthemanufactureofvitalpharmaceuticalproductsallstemfromthe samesource.