By Keekok Lee

The final century observed nice revolutions in genetics; the advance of vintage Mendelian thought and the invention and research of DNA. every one primary clinical discovery in flip generated its personal certain expertise. Biotechnology is the offspring of the latter and is anticipated to be the driver in the back of financial development within the twenty-first century. those case reviews permit the writer to behavior a philosophical exploration of the connection among basic clinical discoveries at the one hand, and the applied sciences that spring from them at the different. As such it's also an workout within the philosophy of technology.

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Drexler, of course, is not alone in confusing organisms with machines and in being obsessed with the language of machines. He is simply following a well-established tradition – Karl Ereky, considered to be the father of the term ‘biotechnology’ (which he used in a series of statements he wrote in the years 1917 to 1919), distinctly regarded the pig as a machine. For him, the difference between the industrial and the peasant approaches to pig rearing was not that the former used electrical pumps and automated feeding and the latter did not.

It is also opportunistic in using knowledge and theories from any domain. Compromise with scientific purity apart, technology also works under other crucial constraints already mentioned, such as the cost of the end product, its aesthetic aspects, its ‘user-friendliness’, its safety and so on. All these are woven into the make-up of the technological product, which cannot be detached from its so-called organisational unity. Or to put the same point differently, the organisational unity exemplified in a machine is not pure in the way Maturana and Varela seem to think it is.

For instance, a plant is worse off in the absence of water, sunlight or a particular nutrient, and is clearly better off when such items are available to it. An entity that could be said to be better or worse off under certain determinate conditions could be said to possess interests. Another way, perhaps, of making the same point is to say that plants have needs which, if not satisfied, could result in their suffering harm. The notions of needs and interests overlap such that entities with needs are also entities with interests, and vice versa.

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