Espousing interactions and Fielding reactions: Addressing laypeople's beliefs about genetic determinism

Philosophical Psychology 21 (3):331 – 348 (2008)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Although biologists and philosophers of science generally agree that genes cannot determine the forms of biological and psychological traits, students, journalists, politicians, and other members of the general public nonetheless continue to embrace genetic determinism. This article identifies some of the concerns typically raised by individuals when they first encounter the systems perspective that biologists and philosophers of science now favor over genetic determinism, and uses arguments informed by that perspective to address those concerns. No definitive statements can yet be made about why genetic determinism has proven so resilient in the face of empirical evidence pointing up its deficiencies, but conveying the essential interdependence of 'nature' and 'nurture' to the general public will likely require deployment of the arguments that systems theorists ordinarily use to reject genetic determinism. In addition, the elaboration of new metaphors that focus attention on the dynamic nature of trait construction will likely prove valuable, because re-conceptualizing notions like 'genes' and 'nature' will probably be one of the most effective ways to help students and the general public abandon the genetic determinism that biologists now recognize as indefensible.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,649

External links

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

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Genetic Prediction: What Are the Limits?M. O. - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 32 (4):619-633.
The Nature and Significance of Behavioural Genetic Information.Ainsley Newson - 2004 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 25 (2):89-111.
Free Will and the Genome Project.Patricia S. Greenspan - 1993 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 22 (1):31-43.
Genetic Disease, Genetic Testing and the Clinician.Kelly C. Smith - 2001 - Journal of the American Medical Association 285 (1):91.
Determinism, Omniscience, and the Multiplicity of Explanations.Mary Midgley - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (5):900-901.
The Fearless Vampire Conservator: Phillip Kitcher and Genetic Determinism.Paul E. Griffiths - 2006 - In Christoph Rehmann-Sutter & Eva M. Neumann-Held (eds.), Genes in Development: Rethinking the Molecular Paradigm. Duke University Press. pp. 175-198.


Added to PP

71 (#168,016)

6 months
2 (#278,853)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?