(Un)Easily Possible Synthetic Biology

Philosophy of Science (5):1-14 (2022)
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Synthetic biology has a strong modal dimension that is part and parcel of its engineering agenda. In turning hypothetical biological designs into actual synthetic constructs, synthetic biologists reach towards potential biology instead of concentrating on naturally evolved organisms. We analyze synthetic biology’s goal of making biology easier to engineer through the combinatorial theory of possibility, which reduces possibility to combinations of individuals and their attributes in the actual world. While the last decades of synthetic biology explorations have shown biology to be much more difficult to engineer than originally conceived, synthetic biology has not given up its combinatorial approach.

Author Profiles

Andrea Loettgers
University of Vienna
Tarja Knuuttila
University of Vienna


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