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J Theor Biol. 1985 Apr 7;113(3):441-54.

Physical models of biological information and adaptation.


The bio-informational equivalence asserts that biological processes reduce to processes of information transfer. In this paper, that equivalence is treated as a metaphor with deeply anthropomorphic content of a sort that resists constitutive-analytical definition, including formulation within mathematical theories of information. It is argued that continuance of the metaphor, as a quasi-theoretical perspective in biology, must entail a methodological dislocation between biological and physical science. It is proposed that a general class of functions, drawn from classical physics, can serve to eliminate the anthropomorphism. Further considerations indicate that the concept of biological adaptation is central to the general applicability of the informational idea in biology; a non-anthropomorphic treatment of adaptive phenomena is suggested in terms of variational principles.

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