Forces of Life: synthetic biology and definitions of life
Drs. Ludo Schoenmakers (Radboud University) about Synthetic biology and definitions of life. Over the past decade, synthetic biology has grown from an unknown field into what some think is the future of biology. Synthetic biologists aim to provide us with unprecedented control over life at the molecular and cellular level. This should allow us to build novel, non-natural living entities with all sorts of interesting and useful applications, but it should also provide us with answers to questions such as ‘What is life?’ – or so it is argued.
In this talk, we will look at two things. First, in the scientific portion, we will look at the main projects associated with synthetic biology, the challenges these projects face, and the progress that has been made in recent years. Second, in the philosophical portion, we will look at the question whether scientific considerations from synthetic biology have any bearing on the debate about definitions of life.
Ludo Schoenmakers studied molecular biology and analytic philosophy at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, specializing in synthetic biology, epistemology, and philosophy of science. Currently, he is working on a PhD in the group of Prof. Dr. W.T.S. Huck (Radboud University) within the ‘Building a Synthetic Cell’ (BaSyC) gravitation programme. In parallel, he is working on a research proposal on the modern debate between pragmatist and realist views of truth.