IAS-Research Talk by Mª José Ferreira: “Disentangling causation and information: informational parity at issue”

Date and Time: May 16, Tuesday, 11:00 p.m.

Location: Carlos Santamaría Building, Room B14.

Speaker: Mª José Ferreira, Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) y Conicet

Abstract: The notion of an informational parity between genes and non-genetic

factors appears in two ways in the literature. On the one hand, it is

claimed to follow from an information-theoretic approach to account

for the notion of information in biology. This consequence, as we

shall explain, is considered to be unacceptable for some authors

which, therefore, took a different approach in order to save the

informational exclusiveness of genes. On the other hand, informational

parity is one of the many versions of the causal parity thesis,

according to which genes and other developmental factors are causally

on a par. According to this view, causal parity is an actual feature

of living systems and the concept of information needs to be congruent

to this fact. We will argue that in both cases there is a deep

conflation between the concepts of information and causation (as

concepts undisputedly related) that has not been sufficiently

addressed, especially with respect to the quarrel over parity. Such a

conflation has a twofold origin: (i) a rough understanding of

causation and (ii) a misreading of information theory.