Biological explanations and social responsibility

The aim of this paper is to show that critics of biological explanations of human nature may be granting too much to those who propose such explanations when they argue that the truth of genetic determinism implies an end to critical evaluation and reform of our social institutions. This is the case because when we argue that biological determinism exempts us from social critique we are erroneously presupposing that our social values, practices, and institutions have nothing to do with what makes biological explanations troublesome. My argument is that what constitutes a problem for those who are concerned with social justice is not the fact that particular behaviours may be genetically determined, but the fact that our value system and social institutions create the conditions that make such behaviours problematic. Thus, I will argue that even if genetic determinism were correct, the requirement of assessing and transforming our social practices and institutions would be far from superfluous. Biology is rarely destiny for human beings and the institutions they create.
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DOI 10.1016/S1369-8486(02)00070-5
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