Genetic traits

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



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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.
Molecular genetics.Ken Waters - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Genetic traits and causal explanation.Robert Northcott - 2012 - In Kathryn Plaisance & Thomas Reydon (eds.), Philosophy of Behavioral Biology. Springer. pp. 65-82.
Psychopathy: Morally Incapacitated Persons.Heidi Maibom - 2017 - In Thomas Schramme & Steven Edwards (eds.), Handbook of the Philosophy of Medicine. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 1109-1129.

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