Genetic Determinism in the Genetics Curriculum

Science & Education 26 (10):1261-1290 (2017)

Abstract

Twenty-first-century biology rejects genetic determinism, yet an exaggerated view of the power of genes in the making of bodies and minds remains a problem. What accounts for such tenacity? This article reports an exploratory study suggesting that the common reliance on Mendelian examples and concepts at the start of teaching in basic genetics is an eliminable source of support for determinism. Undergraduate students who attended a standard ‘Mendelian approach’ university course in introductory genetics on average showed no change in their determinist views about genes. By contrast, students who attended an alternative course which, inspired by the work of a critic of early Mendelism, W. F. R. Weldon, replaced an emphasis on Mendel’s peas with an emphasis on developmental contexts and their role in bringing about phenotypic variability, were less determinist about genes by the end of teaching. Improvements in both the new Weldonian curriculum and the study design are in view for the future.

Download options

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,722

External links

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

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2018-02-15

Downloads
20 (#563,365)

6 months
1 (#387,390)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Gregory Radick
University of Leeds

References found in this work

The Century of the Gene.Evelyn Fox Keller - 2001 - Journal of the History of Biology 34 (3):613-615.
Making Sense of Genes.Kostas Kampourakis - 2017 - Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Mendel No Mendelian?Robert Cecil Olby - 1979 - History of Science 17 (1):53-72.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Similar books and articles

Metaphors in Behavioral Genetics.A. Nordgren - 2003 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 24 (1):59-77.
Genetic Determinism, Neuronal Determinism, and Determinism Tout Court.Bernard Baertschi & Alexandre Mauron - 2011 - In Judy Illes & Barbara J. Sahakian (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Neuroethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 151.
How Darwinian Reductionism Refutes Genetic Determinism.Philip M. Rosoff & Alex Rosenberg - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 37 (1):122-135.
Personal Genomes: No Bad News?Ruth Chadwick - 2011 - Bioethics 25 (2):62-65.
The Nature and Significance of Behavioural Genetic Information.Ainsley Newson - 2004 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 25 (2):89-111.
Gene Talk in Sociobiology.Henry Howe & John Lyne - 1992 - Social Epistemology 6 (2):109 – 163.
Genetics and Bioethics: How Our Thinking has Changed Since 1969.LeRoy Walters - 2012 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 33 (1):83-95.