Genocentryzm versus teoria systemów rozwojowych. Dwa konkurencyjne sposoby rozumienia informacji w biologii współczesnej

Radosław Siedliński


There are (at least) two opposing concepts of biological information, or bioinformation,
discussed in the modern philosophy of biology: genocentric (genebased)
and holistic. As a main proponent of the former I consider British evolutionist
John Maynard Smith and his teleosemantic theory of bioinformation.
The latter was proposed by American philosopher Susan Oyama in the form of
so-called Developmental Systems Theory (DST).
In Maynard Smith proposal bioinformation is strictly gene-based and any
non-genetic element of a living organism cannot be considered as a vehicle of
informational content. Such information is transmitted from parents to offspring
inside the germ cells and every time serves as a blueprint for building
the whole organisms. DST claims the opposite: bioinformation cannot be
reduced to genetic elements only and is scattered throughout the whole living
system. What is more, biological information is not simply transmitted
between generations but every time rebuilt from available developmental resources:
bioinformation has not only it is phylogeny, but it is ontogeny as well.
The aim of this paper is twofold. First: to present the foundations of both aforementioned
theories to the reader and second: to discuss the different objections
raised against them.

Słowa kluczowe

genocentrism; Developmental Systems Theory; biological information; bioinformation; John Maynard Smith; Susan Oyama

Pełny tekst:



Cobb M., Największa tajemnica życia. Jak rozszyfrowano kod genetyczny,

tłum. A. Tuz, Warszawa 2017.

Downes S. M., Biological Information, w: The Philosophy of Science: An Encyclopedia,

ed. S. Sarkar, J. Pfeifer, New York 2004.

Frank S. A., Host Control of Symbiont Transmission: The Separation of Symbionts

into Germ and Soma, „The American Naturalist” 148 (1996) no. 6,

s. 1113–1124.

Freeland S., Hurst L., Ewolucja języka genów, „Świat Nauki” (2004) nr 5,

s. 56 – 63.

Gaczoł R., Spór Richarda Dawkinsa ze Stephenem Jayem Gouldem wokół teorii

samolubnego genu, „Przegląd Filozoficzno-Literacki” 31 (2011) nr 2–3,

s. 87–106.

Gilbert W., A Vision of the Grail, w: The Code of Codes. Scientific and Social

Issues in the Human Genome Project, ed. D. J. Kevles, L. Hood, Cambridge

Godfrey-Smith P., Information in Biology, w: The Cambridge Companion to

the Philosophy of Biology, ed. D. L. Hull, M. Ruse, Cambridge 2007.

Godfrey-Smith P., Information, Arbitrariness, and Selection: Comments on

Maynard Smith, „Philosophy of Science” 67 (2000) no. 2, s. 202–207.

Godfrey-Smith P., On the Theoretical Role of “Genetic Coding”, „Philosophy of

Science” 67 (2000), s. 26–44.

Godfrey-Smith P., Sterelny K., Biological Information, w: The Stanford Encyclopedia

of Philosophy, ed. E. N. Zalta,

information-biological (22.11.2017).

Griffiths P., Genetic Information: A Metaphor in Search of a Theory, „Philosophy

of Science” 68 (2001), s. 394–412.

Griffiths P., Gray R., Developmental Systems and Evolutionary Explanation,

„The Journal of Philosophy” 91 (1994) no. 6, s. 277–304.

Griffiths P., Knight R., What Is the Developmentalist Challenge?, „Philosophy

of Science” 65 (1998) no. 2, s. 253–258.

Jablonka E., Information: Its Interpretation, Its Inheritance, and Its Sharing,

„Philosophy of Science” 69 (2002) no. 4, s. 578–605.

Radosław Siedliński

Jacob F., Monod J., Genetic Regulatory Mechanisms in the Synthesis of Proteins,

„Journal of Molecular Biology” 3 (1961) iss. 3, s. 318–356.

Keller E. F., The Century of the Gene, Cambridge 2000.

Küppers B. O., Geneza informacji biologicznej. Filozoficzne problemy powstania

życia, tłum. W. Ługowski, Warszawa 1991.

Lewontin R., Biology as Ideology. The Doctrine of DNA, New York 1993.

Lewontin R., Gene, Organism and Environment, w: Evolution from Molecules

to Men, ed. D. S. Bendall, Cambridge 1983.

Lewontin R., It ain’t Necessarily so. The Dream of the Human Genome and

Other Illusions, New York 2001.

Lewontin R., Organism and Environment, w: Learning, Development, and

Culture, ed. H. C. Plotkin, New York 1982.

Łuków P., Żekanowski C., Pojęcie genu i genocentryczny paradygmat biologii,

„Przegląd Filozoficzny” 14 (2005) nr 53, s. 85–105.

Maynard Smith J., The Concept of Information in Biology, „Philosophy of

Science” 67 (2000) no. 2, s. 177–194.

Moffat B., A Reexamination of Biological Information from the Perspective of

Practice, (22.11.2017).

Nijhout F., Metaphors and the Role of Genes in Development, „BioEssays” 12

(1990) iss. 9, s. 441–446.

Noble D., The Music of Life. Biology Beyond Genes, Oxford 2006.

Oyama S., Evolution’s Eye. A Systems View of the Biology-Culture Divide,

Durham–London 2000.

Oyama S., Griffiths P. E., Gray R. D., Introduction. What Is Developmental

Systems Theory?, w: Cycles of Contingency. Developmental Systems and

Evolution, ed. S. Oyama, P. E. Griffiths, R. D. Gray, Cambridge 2001.

Oyama S., The Ontogeny of Information, Cambridge 1985.

Pinto-Correia C., The Ovary of Eve. Egg and Sperm and Preformation, Chicago

Pradeu T., The Organism in Developmental Systems Theory, „Biological Theory”

(2010) iss. 3, s. 216–222.

Roberts J. S., Hall B. K., Olson W. M., Bridging the Gap between Developmental

Systems Theory and Evolutionary Developmental Biology, „BioEssays”

(2001) no. 23, s. 954–962.

Genocentryzm versus teoria systemów rozwojowych… 93

Sarkar S., Biological Information: A Sceptical Look at some Central Dogmas

of Molecular Biology, w: The Philosophy and History of Molecular Biology:

New Perspectives, ed. S. Sarkar, Dordrecht 1996.

Sterelny K., Smith K. C., Dickson M., The Extended Replicator, „Biology and

Philosophy” 11 (1996), s. 377–403.

Sterelny K., Symbiosis, Evolvability and Modularity, w: Modularity in Development

and Evolution, ed. G. Schlösser, G. P. Wagner, Chicago 2004.

Sterelny K., The “Genetic Program” Program: A Commentary on Maynard

Smith on Information in Biology, „Philosophy of Science” 67 (2000) no. 2,

s. 195–201.

Szathmáry E., Maynard Smith J., The Major Evolutionary Transitions, „Nature”

(1995), s. 227–232.

Walker S. I., Davies P. C. W., The Algorithmic Origins of Life, „Journal of

the Royal Society Interface”,

/79/20120869 (28.11.2017).

Waters K., Molecular Genetics, w: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

ed. E. N. Zalta,


Weber M., Philosophy of Experimental Biology, Cambridge 2005.

Wright L., Functions, „The Philosophical Review” 82 (1973) no. 2, s. 139–168.

Copyright (c) 2018 Radosław Siedliński