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The place of genes

Dear Lewis,

You and I have fenced over one of the central questions in biology-and indeed life-for many years now. It may be instructive to try to set out our differences more systematically. The question is how best to understand and explain living processes, in particular the role of genes within these processes. You, in common with many molecular biologists, are content to place DNA and its replication at life’s centre. My book, Lifelines, is an attempt to rebut the claims of this genetic imperialism which, I contend, derives from mistaken metaphysics, misunderstands the nature of…

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