Colloquium du DEC

Biological Information: Genetic, epigenetic, and exogenetic

Informations pratiques
27 septembre 2016


It is often said that genes carry ‘biological information’, but what does this really mean ? Recent work in the philosophy of causation and in complex systems science on the measurement of causal influence offers a natural way to reconstruct what the co-discover of the structure of DNA Francis Crick meant when he said that genetics involves distinct flows of matter, energy and information. The resulting quantitative measures of information provide a common currency to measure the flow of information from genetic, epigenetic and exogenetic sources, and to compare these influences on a single phenotypic outcome. I will compare and contrast this sense of ‘information’, which is a measurable property of the causal structure of systems, to the popular ‘teleosemantic’ approach to biological information advocated by Ruth Millikan, Nicholas Shea and others.