Dr. Alex Koo, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto
Scientific realism is the view that our current scientific theories are approximately true. While certainly appealing, scientific anti-realists argue that believing in the approximate truth of our theories is naïve when placed in the context of the history of science. The primary event to be accounted for is the transition from Newtonian physics to the current quantum model. A problem with this approach is that while philosophy of science has contributed significantly to the understanding of fundamental physics, it does not seem to apply to other scientific theories. I will present the standard debate between realism and anti-realism, and will attempt to frame the discussion under the context of the shift from classical to molecular genetics. I suggest that this shift represents an acute problem for a realist interpretation of genetics. This problem can be solved, but it requires a dramatic reconception of the gene. Whether or not this is tolerable to practicing geneticists is up to you.