Genomics and Problems of Explanation

in Genomes and What to Make of Them

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780226172958
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226172965 | DOI:
Genomics and Problems of Explanation

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This chapter focuses on the ways in which genetics and genomics have been deployed as resources for explanation. It looks backward to classical genetics, and outward to the ideas of genetics and genetic explanation that exist beyond the field, among nonspecialists. And it concentrates almost entirely upon human traits, especially human behavioral and psychological traits, not because these are the traits that geneticists have been most intent upon explaining, but because it is those traits, and the possibility of explaining them in “hereditarian” terms, that have most interested outsiders. The discussion includes “astrological genetics,” a crude form of genetic determinism currently thriving in the media and the wider culture, which has proclaimed the discovery of “genes for” intelligence, homosexuality, aggression, and a succession of other human behavioral traits selected with a mind to the interests of the general reader. This form of discourse is commonly encountered in moral and political debates in which the existence of “genes for” this or that, and their distribution in society, are alleged to justify policies and attitudes of various sorts, not infrequently noxious and repugnant.

Keywords: genetics; genetic explanation; astrological genomics; human behavior

Chapter.  13624 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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