There is a revolution of thought taking place in our understanding of evolution. It is moving us away from a gene-centred 'determinist' view of our lives, and replacing it with an 'open system view' where many factors influence evolution, including culture and environment in a dynamic interaction with organisms.
Good science comes from understanding its limitations, bad science from ignoring them. Scientists do not work in a bubble free from cultural, social, ethical or political influences. So does science need philosophy?
Modern neoliberalism tends to emphasise the individual as an autonomous being. Society is seen as an aggregate of our individual, self-motivated, self interested behaviour. But this is a profoundly mistaken view of our social being.
Gene editing technology offers hope to sufferers of genetic disorders such as Huntington’s disease. But many are concerned with its possible misuse in producing ‘designer’ babies, or in enhancing body function. They are concerned also that it will change how we consider our identity. But should we be concerned? What makes us who we are?
We have a freedom of will - a will constrained rather than determined by circumstance. Often, with ingenuity and knowledge, we can understand the nature of our circumstance and overcome constraints. We can solve problems and go where others have not.
All the worlds a stage, but there is no set script. Our lives are not mapped by a screenplay as in a film. We do not follow a script. We don’t really know what will be said next. Our lives are not mapped in our genomes.
I recently watched Moon, the 2009 Science fiction film co-written and directed by Duncan Jones. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil the plot, but the film follows Sam Bell, a man who experiences a personal crisis as he nears the end of a three-year solitary stint mining helium-3 on the far side of the Moon. After a crash he discovers his double and in turn they find a secret vault containing hundreds of hibernating clones. They realize that Lunar Industries manufactures clones to avoid paying for new astronauts. So, how realistic a prospect is this – or is it simply the stuff of science fiction?