The Central Dogma as a Thesis of Causal Specificity

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 28 (4):595-610 (2006)
  Copy   BIBTEX


I present a reconstruction of F.H.C. Crick's two 1957 hypotheses "Sequence Hypothesis" and "Central Dogma" in terms of a contemporary philosophical theory of causation. Analyzing in particular the experimental evidence that Crick cited, I argue that these hypotheses can be understood as claims about the actual difference-making cause in protein synthesis. As these hypotheses are only true if restricted to certain nucleic acids in certain organisms, I then examine the concept of causal specificity and its potential to counter claims about causal parity of DNA and other cellular components. I first show that causal specificity is a special kind of invariance under interventions, namely invariance of generalizations that range over finite sets of discrete variables. Then, I show that this notion allows the articulation of a middle ground in the debate over causal parity.

Author's Profile

Marcel Weber
University of Geneva


Added to PP

506 (#21,957)

6 months
53 (#37,083)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?