Short Answer Questions
- How did Crick's "simplifying assumptions" diverge from Pauling perspective on genetics?
- What does Godfrey-Smith mean when he says that he's interested in information that "goes beyond" correlation and causation?
- Why does Godfrey-Smith say that a complicated "causal spaghetti" defeats the view that DNA encodes information about phenotypic traits?
For Further Discussion
- The nature of DNA. It's important to get a grip on the basic picture that modern picture deals with. The part we're taking for granted is that 3-dimensional protein structure plays a strong role in phenotypic traits. But how does DNA give rise to 3-dimensional protein structure? See if you can go through all the stages.
- Concepts of information. When we ask, "Does DNA encode information about phenotypic traits," we must first settle on a definition of information. Godfrey-Smith discusses some. (a) What are those definitions? (b) How many other senses (or examples) of information can you think of? (c) How might these definitions be applied to DNA, RNA proteins, and phenotypic traits? (d) Is one definition of particular interest as compared to any other? Which one should we be focusing on in this debate?
- Godfrey-Smith's Argument. (a) What exactly is Godfrey-Smith's thesis? Be as precise as you can. (b) How (if at all) does Godfrey-Smith disagree with the current paradigm in genetics? How (if at all) does he disagree with the assumptions of Watson and Crick? (c) Godfrey-Smith makes at least two arguments that DNA doesn't encode information about phenotypic traits (and we discussed two in lecture). Try to formulate these arguments in premise-conclusion form. Do you agree with all the premises? Do you agree with Godfrey-Smith's argument?
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