What are genes? What do genes do? These questions are not simple and straightforward to answer; at the same time, simplistic answers are quite prevalent and are taken for granted. Understanding Genes aims to explain the origin of the gene concept, its various meanings both within and outside science, as well as to debunk the intuitive view of the existence of 'genes for' characteristics and disease. Drawing on contemporary research in genetics and genomics, as well as on ideas from history of science, philosophy of science, psychology and science education, it explains what genes are and what they can and cannot do. By presenting complex concepts and research in a comprehensible and rigorous manner, it examines the potential impact of research in genetics and genomics and how important genes actually are for our lives. Understanding Genes is an accessible and engaging introduction to genes for any interested reader.
1. The Public Image of Genes
2. The Origin and Evolution of the Gene Concept
3. The Devolution of the Gene Concept
4. There are No 'Genes For' Characteristics or Disease
5. What Genes 'Do'
6. The Dethronement of Genes.
Kostas Kampourakis is the author and editor of books about evolution, genetics, philosophy, and history of science, and the editor of the Cambridge book series Understanding Life. He is a former Editor-in-Chief of the journal Science & Education, and the book series Science: Philosophy, History and Education. He is currently a researcher at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, where he also teaches at the Section of Biology and the University Institute for Teacher Education