Genetic traits

Biology and Philosophy 5 (3):327-347 (1990)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Recognizing that all traits are the result of an interaction between genes and environment, I offer a set of criteria for nevertheless making sense of our practice of singling out certain traits as genetic ones, in effect making a distinction between causes and mere conditions. The central criterion is that a trait is genetic if it is genetic differences that make the differences in that trait variable in a given population. A second criterion requires that genetic traits be individuated in a way that matches what some genetic factors cause specifically. Clarifying our causal and classificatory language here can help us to avoid confusions of both theoretical and practical significance.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,389

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

72 (#165,321)

6 months
1 (#415,900)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Fred Gifford
Michigan State University

Citations of this work

Causes That Make a Difference.C. Kenneth Waters - 2007 - Journal of Philosophy 104 (11):551-579.
Genes Made Molecular.C. Kenneth Waters - 1994 - Philosophy of Science 61 (2):163-185.
Psychopathy: Morally Incapacitated Persons.Heidi Maibom - 2017 - In Thomas Schramme & Steven Edwards (eds.), Handbook of the Philosophy of Medicine. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 1109-1129.
Molecular Genetics.Ken Waters - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

View all 18 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.
Causes and Conditions.J. L. Mackie - 1965 - American Philosophical Quarterly 2 (4):245 - 264.
Statistical Explanation & Statistical Relevance.Wesley Salmon - 1971 - Pittsburgh, PA, USA: University of Pittsburgh Press.
The Analysis of Variance and the Analysis of Causes.Richard C. Lewontin - 1974 - American Journal of Human Genetics 26 (3):400-11.
An Essay on Metaphysics.Robin George Collingwood - 1940 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

View all 19 references / Add more references