Is life law-like?

Kenneth M. Weiss, Anne Buchanan Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Genes are generally assumed to be primary biological causes of biological phenotypes and their evolution. In just over a century, a research agenda that has built on Mendel's experiments and on Darwin's theory of natural selection as a law of nature has had unprecedented scientific success in isolating and characterizing many aspects of genetic causation. We revel in these successes, and yet the story is not quite so simple. The complex cooperative nature of genetic architecture and its evolution include teasingly tractable components, but much remains elusive. The proliferation of data generated in our "omics" age raises the question of whether we even have (or need) a unified theory or "law" of life, or even clear standards of inference by which to answer the question. If not, this not only has implications for the widely promulgated belief that we will soon be able to predict phenotypes like disease risk from genes, but also speaks to the limitations in the underlying science itself. Much of life seems to be characterized by ad hoc, ephemeral, contextual probabilism without proper underlying distributions. To the extent that this is true, causal effects are not asymptotically predictable, and new ways of understanding life may be required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)761-771
Number of pages11
JournalGenetics
Volume188
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011

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Phenotype
Genetic Selection
Causality
Genes
Research

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics

Cite this

Weiss, K. M., & Weiss, A. B. (2011). Is life law-like? Genetics, 188(4), 761-771. https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.111.131318
Weiss, Kenneth M. ; Weiss, Anne Buchanan. / Is life law-like?. In: Genetics. 2011 ; Vol. 188, No. 4. pp. 761-771.
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Weiss, KM & Weiss, AB 2011, 'Is life law-like?', Genetics, vol. 188, no. 4, pp. 761-771. https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.111.131318

Is life law-like? / Weiss, Kenneth M.; Weiss, Anne Buchanan.

In: Genetics, Vol. 188, No. 4, 01.08.2011, p. 761-771.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Weiss KM, Weiss AB. Is life law-like? Genetics. 2011 Aug 1;188(4):761-771. https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.111.131318