David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 24 (1):81-105 (2009)
Can a heritability value tell us something about the weight of genetic versus environmental causes that have acted in the development of a particular individual? Two possible questions arise. Q1: what portion of the phenotype of X is due to its genes and what portion to its environment? Q2: what portion of X’s phenotypic deviation from the mean is a result of its genetic deviation and what portion a result of its environmental deviation? An answer to Q1 provides the full information about X’s development, while an answer to Q2 leaves out a large portion unexplained—that portion which corresponds to the phenotypic mean. Q1 is unanswerable, but I show it is nevertheless legitimate under certain quantitative genetics models. With regard to Q2, opinions in the philosophical and biological literature differ as to its legitimacy. I argue that not only is it legitimate, but in particular, under a few simplifying assumptions, it allows for a quantitative probabilistic answer: for normally distributed quantitative traits with no G-E correlation or statistical G × E interaction, we can assess the probability that X’s genes had a greater effect than its environment on its deviation from the mean population value. This probability is expressed as a function the heritability and the individual’s phenotypic value; we can also provide a quantitative probabilistic answer to Q2 for an arbitrary individual where the probability is a function only of heritability.
|Keywords||Philosophy Evolutionary Biology Philosophy of Biology|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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
R. C. Lewontin (1974). The Analysis of Variance and the Analysis of Causes. American Journal of Human Genetics 26:400-11.
Christopher H. Pearson (2007). Is Heritability Explanatorily Useful? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 38 (1):270-288.
Elliott Sober (1988). Apportioning Causal Responsibility. Journal of Philosophy 85 (6):303 - 318.
Wim J. van der Steen (1998). Bias in Behaviour Genetics: An Ecological Perspective. Acta Biotheoretica 46 (4):369-377.
Douglas Wahlsten (1990). Insensitivity of the Analysis of Variance to Heredity-Environment Interaction. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 (1):109-120.
Citations of this work BETA
Peter Taylor (2009). Perspectives From Plant Breeding on Tal's Argument About the Weight of Genetic Versus environmenTal Causes for Individuals. Biology and Philosophy 24 (5):735-738.
Peter J. Taylor (2009). Nothing Reliable About Genes or Environment: New Perspectives on Analysis of Similarity Among Relatives in Light of the Possibility of Underlying Heterogeneity. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 40 (3):210-220.
Similar books and articles
Peter Taylor (2010). Three Puzzles and Eight Gaps: What Heritability Studies and Critical Commentaries Have Not Paid Enough Attention To. Biology and Philosophy 25 (1):1-31.
Neven Sesardic (2003). Heritability and Indirect Causation. Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1002-1014.
Sidney J. Segalowitz (1999). Why Twin Studies Really Don't Tell Us Much About Human Heritability. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (5):904-905.
Peter Taylor (2006). Heritability and Heterogeneity: The Limited Relevance of Heritability in Investigating Genetic and Environmental Factors. Biological Theory 1 (2):150-164.
Neven Sesardic (1993). Heritability and Causality. Philosophy of Science 60 (3):396-418.
Daniel Dennett & Christopher Viger, Is Hirsch or Wilson Confused? A Commentary on "The Pitfalls of Heritability ".
Matteo Mameli (2004). Nongenetic Selection and Nongenetic Inheritance. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (1):35-71.
Massimo Pigliucci & Carl D. Schlichting (1997). On the Limits of Quantitative Genetics for the Study of Phenotypic Evolution. Acta Biotheoretica 45 (2):143-160.
Samir Okasha (2003). The Concept of Group Heritability. Biology and Philosophy 18 (3):445-461.
Omri Tal (2012). The Impact of Gene–Environment Interaction and Correlation on the Interpretation of Heritability. Acta Biotheoretica 60 (3):225-237.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads24 ( #84,038 of 1,679,347 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #112,124 of 1,679,347 )
How can I increase my downloads?