Are there any developmental codes?


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Slides used for grad student seminar on coding in trait development. Supported argument that there aren't really any developmental codes for traits.

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  • Genes, membranes, environments, cultures, all interact to produce developmental outcomes.A developmental code is a code for some outcome of development. Are there any developmental codes?
  • 1.Genes definitely cause traits (along with everything else I’ve just mentioned)This is not the same question as whether genes code for traits. Coding is a species of representation talk.Representation talk may require information talk.But let’s not get ahead; anything that plays these roles is potentially a code, not just genes.
  • These codes can be seen to have imperative and indicative aspects (features, not necessary)Small bits of code relate to small bits of translationChanges to small bits have small changes in the translation
  • The genetic ‘code’DNA causes amino acid sequences. Does it code?Importantly amino acid sequences are not really the ‘outcomes’ of developmentLet’s test the genetic code against some sensible criteria for coding.
  • All developmental codes are developmental causes. There are no non-causal developmental codes.(M) captures all causesA dolphin and human eye colour – NOGravity – NO (so causation not enough)
  • All developmental codes are specific (to some degree)Specificity is C1,C2,C3... E1, E2, E3...E.g. lotto scratchy and my bank balanceTides and the high-water mark – NO
  • All developmental codes are proportional (to some degree)Proportionality is where the cause or effect are not to narrow or broad compared to the other.E.g. learning English vs. learning a language causing literacy.Frequently claimed that gene X is gene for Z, when actually gene X at best for trait Y, Z depends on.The molecular structure mapping molecules to each other when they solidify: proportional causal specificity – Not a code? Water molecules don’t code for ice. The ambient temperature is also proportional causal specificity to the mean kinetic energy of molecules.
  • We can build a box of causal kinds and put potential codes in it. Some things clearly not developmental codes, some potentially are.
  • Representation and Information [draw boxes]Representation < Info or Info < Representation (mis-information)Either way coding talk requires representation; all codes are representations, not vice-versaRepresentations represent things (function)
  • Cesar’s code satisfies, DNA does not
  • But there are other developmental causes than genes.In order to represent a representation must have ‘directedness’ on something, it must possess intentionality.MRs possess intentionalityBut so do (artifacts) paintings, derived fromMRs.E.g. Dog vs. Picture of a dog.
  • Teacher intention and educational artifactsIndicative and imperative representationsTeacher intention represents student learning outcome (directedness on)But can’t be indicative (doesn’t represent the unintended outcomes, and future contingent, what is the content if it is indicative?)Instructions represent teacher intention
  • Something can have a function and be representational (e.g. ochre) but only when its function is to represent. Alice, functions to cause students to learn logic and computer programming. Specific + ProportionalCan it represent these outcomes?
  • Teacher intention (desires that...) – Alice – outcome (content). Does an intermediary between a code and the content also represent? Transitive?B can function to produce C without representing C (e.g. Liver functions to detoxify alcohol).But is this true if A represents C and causes B to facilitate this? (true of intermediaries?)Gun (not proportional) vs. Alice.Gun’s function is not to represent, Alice’s might be? Teacher intention definitely is.
  • Genes definitely show causal specificity, but lack an interpretation rule to ‘outcome’ and also lack semantic informational properties. Gene ‘for’ doesn’t have to imply coding.If one believes genes code for developmental outcomes then by parity many other things might.Otherwise, there can still be developmental codes (teacher intention, artifacts).More or less paradigm cases of codes.
  • Are there any developmental codes?

    1. 1. Are there any developmental codes?<br />
    2. 2. Motivation<br />Causing and coding are different questions.<br />Do genes code for traits?<br />Does anything code for traits?<br />2<br />
    3. 3. Codes<br />A code is a rule for converting information<br />Caesar’s Code<br />ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ<br />DEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZABC<br />3<br />
    4. 4. Morse Code<br />4<br />
    5. 5. Genetic Code<br />5<br />
    6. 6. Developmental Codes<br />All developmental codes are causes<br />(M) X causes Y iff there are background circumstances B such that if some (single) intervention that changes the value of X (and no other variable) were to occur in B, then Y or the probability distribution of Y would change.<br />Woodward (2010)<br />6<br />
    7. 7. Specificity<br />All developmental codes are specific<br />Some cause C, has specificity over an effect E, to the degree that changes in the cause (C1, C2, C3…) tend to produce changes in the effect (E1, E2, E3…)<br />7<br />
    8. 8. Proportionality<br />All developmental codes are proportional to their effects<br />Causes and effects are in proportion if the causes and effects are neither too broad, nor too narrow, in comparison to each other<br />8<br />
    9. 9. Proportional Causal Specificity is not sufficient for Coding<br />9<br />
    10. 10. 10<br />
    11. 11. Semantic Information <br />Representations<br />Codes<br />11<br />
    12. 12. Developmental Codes<br />Satisfy causal criteria (M)<br />Be specific<br />Be proportional<br />Represent outcomes<br />12<br />
    13. 13. DNA and Information<br />I argue (elsewhere) that DNA cannot carry semantic information, therefore no representation.<br />Others may claim representation without information but in these cases (of mis-information) there is still no coding<br />Not rehashing these arguments today<br />13<br />
    14. 14. Intentionality<br />There are other developmental causes than DNA<br />Representations must have ‘directedness’ on something, i.e. intentionality.<br />Mental states possess intentionality<br />So do artifacts, when it is derived from minds<br />14<br />
    15. 15. Cultural Artifact:<br />Second order / Derived Intentionality<br />Mental State: <br />Intentional (directedness, aboutness)<br />{DOG}<br />15<br />
    16. 16. Alice<br />16<br />
    17. 17. Alice and Representation<br />17<br />Alice<br />Student Trait<br />Teacher Intention<br />Building Plans<br />Constructed Outcome<br />Architect’s Intention<br />
    18. 18. Summary<br />Genes lack representational properties, especially directed at the ‘outcome’ of development.<br />If one believes genes code for developmental outcomes, then so do a host of other factors<br />But saying ‘gene for’ doesn’t have to imply coding.<br />If one doesn’t believe genes code, then other elements still can (teacher intention, perhaps artifacts)<br />18<br />