chapter  9
14 Pages

The machine metaphor in science and science communication

BySune Holm

The chapter examines the role of the machine metaphor in science and science communication, with a particular focus on synthetic biology. I will argue that, in general, despite having a well-established heuristic role within a scientific context, the machine metaphor is ill-chosen as a means of communicating the selfsame scientific research and insights to a lay audience. This is because the communicative use of this heuristically useful metaphor may easily slide into a misleading theoretical identification of organisms with machines. Moreover, I back up the philosophical criticism of the use of the machine metaphor in science communication with empirical evidence showing how strongly metaphors may frame our way of thinking about a topic.