The Concept of Gene and the Genocentric Paradigm in Biology
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A significant part of modern biology is based on the belief that the genes (or DNA) play a predominant role in the intracellular and hereditary processes. Biologists who rely on this simplified view of the role of the genes isolate, both conceptually and in their research programs, the two-way relationships between genes and the conditions in, and outside the cell, including - in the case of humans - social and cultural factors. Genocentrism is characterised by reductionist determinism and an inconsistent concept of genetic information. A rejection of genocentrism, on the other hand, offers a more adequate conception of the gene as one of many elements of biological processes responsible for transmission of natural traits. But even though it is desirable to propose a transformation of the dominant ideas about the role of the gene in the intracellular and hereditary processes, such a change will require a major alteration of the definition of the gene, and a modification of research programs and methodology; in a word, it requires a change of the entire genetic theory. The scope and significance of such changes can be appreciated by considering two alternative conceptions of the gene - the processual conception of the gene and the developmental systems theory.
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