The Practical Value of Biological Information for Research

Philosophy of Science 81 (2):175-194, (2014)
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Many philosophers are skeptical about the scientific value of the concept of biological information. However, several have recently proposed a more positive view of ascribing information as an exercise in scientific modeling. I argue for an alternative role: guiding empirical data collection for the sake of theorizing about the evolution of semantics. I clarify and expand on Bergstrom and Rosvall’s suggestion of taking a “diagnostic” approach that defines biological information operationally as a procedure for collecting empirical cases. The more recent modeling-based accounts still perpetuate a theory-centric view of scientific concepts, which motivated philosophers’ misplaced skepticism in the first place.
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