Seminario a cargo de Mª José Ferreira Ruiz: “Information, inheritance systems and developmental resources”

Fecha y hora: 14 de Septiembre, Lunes, 11.30 am.

Lugar: Centro Carlos Santamaría, Aula B14

Ponente: Mª José Ferreira Ruiz (CONICET – Universidad de Buenos Aires)

Título: Information, inheritance systems and developmental resources


The relation between biological inheritance and biological information

is close but tricky and unclear, and has not been directly explored.

Since the rise of molecular biology, genes have been thought of not

only as heritable units, but also as informational units. The

traditional focus put almost exclusively on genetic inheritance, and

the early introduction of the term ‘information’ to refer to genes,

may have given the impression that both properties come in a package,

as if every heritable unit were an informational one, and vice versa.

At present, we recognize other, non-genetical, inheritance systems,

but this only redoubles the confusion. A second issue concerning the

concept of information is posed by the notion of “developmental

resource” discussed by Developmental Systems theorists, among which we

count many different biological agents. Some authors have claimed that

if we admit genes -developmental resources- to be information

carriers, then the same must be said of the rest of the developmental

resources. Thus, they suggest an “informational parity” among genes

and non-genetic factors. My aim in this presentation is to addresss

the problematic aspects of these two relationships, that is, the one

between information and inheritance and the one between information

and causation. In both cases, I will argue that there are conceptual

confusions implied.