Why genes are like lemons

F. Boem, E. Ratti, M. Andreoletti, G. Boniolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the last few years, the lack of a unitary notion of gene across biological sciences has troubled the philosophy of biology community. However, the debate on this concept has remained largely historical or focused on particular cases presented by the scientific empirical advancements. Moreover, in the literature there are no explicit and reasonable arguments about why a philosophical clarification of the concept of gene is needed. In our paper, we claim that a philosophical clarification of the concept of gene does not contribute to biology. Unlike the question, for example, "What is a biological function?", we argue that the question "What is a gene?" could be answered by means of empirical research, in the sense that biologists' labour is enough to shed light on it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-95
Number of pages8
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C :Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Biological functions
  • Gene
  • Natural kinds
  • Philosophy of science contribution to science
  • Theoretical terms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • History
  • Medicine(all)


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