Jan Baedke argues convincingly that epigenetics must be part of any explanatory or descriptive account pertaining to issues in biology and philosophy of science. This book is original—it is the first to focus exclusively on the philosophy of epigenetics by addressing classical concerns of philosophers of science, especially the notion and nature of scientific explanation.
Epigenetics is currently one of the fastest-growing fields in the sciences. Epigenetic information not only controls DNA expression but links genetic factors with the environmental experiences that influence the traits and characteristics of an individual. What we eat, where we work, and how we live affects not only the activity of our genes but that of our offspring as well. This discovery has imposed a revolutionary theoretical shift on modern biology, especially on evolutionary theory. It has helped to uncover the developmental processes leading to cancer, obesity, schizophrenia, alcoholism, and aging, and to facilitate associated medial applications such as stem cell therapy and cloning.
Above the Gene, Beyond Biology explores how biologists in this booming field investigate and explain living systems. Jan Baedke offers the first comprehensive philosophical discussion of epigenetic concepts, explanations, and methodologies so that we can better understand this “epigenetic turn” in the life sciences from a philosophical perspective.
The time is ripe for careful reflection on the conceptual foundations of epigenetics and how these can illuminate ongoing discussions in the philosophy of science. This book provides one of the first systematic examinations of philosophical issues arising in epigenetics. Perhaps its greatest strength is its careful analysis of the kind of explanations found in this burgeoning biological discipline.