What's in a cause?: The pragmatic dimensions of genetic explanations [Book Review]

Biology and Philosophy 14 (3):349-373 (1999)
Abstract
The paper argues for a pragmatic account of genetic explanation. This is to say that when a disease or other trait is termed genetic, the reasons for singling out genes as causes over other, also necessary, genetic and nongenetic conditions are not wholly theoretical but include pragmatic dimensions. Whether the explanation is the presence of a trait in an individual or differences in a trait among individuals, genetic explanations are context-dependent in three ways: they are relative to a causal background of genetic and nongenetic factors; they are relative to a population; and they are relative to the present state of knowledge. Criteria like causal priority, nonstandardness, and causal efficacy that purport to distinguish objectively between genetic causes and nongenetic conditions either incorporate pragmatic elements or fail for other reasons. When the pragmatic dimensions of genetic explanations are recognized, we come to understand the current phenomenon of geneticization to be a reflection of increased technological capacities to manipulate genes in the laboratory, and potentially the clinic, rather than theoretical progress in understanding how diseases and other traits arise. This calls into question the value of the search for theoretical definitions of designations like genetic disease or genetic susceptibility as directives for action.
Keywords cause-condition distinction  genetic trait  geneticization  pragmatic
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 11,819
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA
Ulrich E. Stegmann (2012). Varieties of Parity. Biology and Philosophy 27 (6):903-918.

View all 13 citations

Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

30 ( #61,309 of 1,099,914 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

8 ( #33,415 of 1,099,914 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.