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Information 2010, 1(1), 28-59; doi:10.3390/info1010028

A Paradigm Shift in Biology?

Pontifical Gregorian University, Piazza della Pilotta, 400187 Rome, Italy
Received: 16 July 2010 / Accepted: 6 September 2010 / Published: 13 September 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue What Is Information?)
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All new developments in biology deal with the issue of the complexity of organisms, often pointing out the necessity to update our current understanding. However, it is impossible to think about a change of paradigm in biology without introducing new explanatory mechanisms. I shall introduce the mechanisms of teleonomy and teleology as viable explanatory tools. Teleonomy is the ability of organisms to build themselves through internal forces and processes (in the expression of the genetic program) and not external ones, implying a freedom relative to the exterior; however, the organism is able to integrate internal and external constraints in a process of co-adaptation. Teleology is that mechanism through which an organism exercises an informational control on another system in order to establish an equivalence class and select some specific information for its metabolic needs. Finally, I shall examine some interesting processes in phylogeny, ontogeny, and epigeny in which these two mechanisms are involved.
Keywords: information; teleology; teleonomy; epigeny; complexity; function information; teleology; teleonomy; epigeny; complexity; function
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Auletta, G. A Paradigm Shift in Biology? Information 2010, 1, 28-59.

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