Senior Honors Projects, 2010-2019

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Department of Biology


Kerry O. Cresawn

Anne M. Wiles


The primary purpose of this project was to investigate and explain the philosophical approach of biosemiotics to understanding living systems in contrast to the current scientific paradigm. Secondary goals were to evaluate the potential merits and relevance of this approach to biology and to introduce such a topic for discussion to biologists in a formal academic setting. My method consisted of critical textual analysis supplemented by analogy and biological examples where appropriate. In general, contemporary biosemiotics argues for a teleologic recontextualization of biological discoveries in practice and education. This is accomplished in a sophisticated fashion through the application and modification of the semiotic theory of Charles Peirce to biology. While such a philosophical proposal is not scientifically falsifiable, it is one of significant concern to current and future scientific practice. In particular, the biosemiotic model of Marcello Barbieri may prove to be more satisfactory than the popular Peirce-Sebeok model and boasts scientifically falsifiable foundations. However, it is thus currently based on theory rather than fact.



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