Three puzzles and eight gaps: What heritability studies and critical commentaries have not paid enough attention to
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 25 (1):1-31 (2010)
This article examines eight “gaps” in order to clarify why the quantitative genetics methods of partitioning variation of a trait into heritability and other components has very limited power to show anything clear and useful about genetic and environmental influences, especially for human behaviors and other traits. The first two gaps should be kept open; the others should be bridged or the difficulty of doing so should be acknowledged: 1. Key terms have multiple meanings that are distinct; 2. Statistical patterns are distinct from measurable underlying factors; 3. Translation from statistical analyses to hypotheses about measurable factors is difficult; 4. Predictions based on extrapolations from existing patterns of variation may not match outcomes; 5. The partitioning of variation in human studies does not reliably estimate the intended quantities; 6. Translation from statistical analyses to hypotheses about the measurable factors is even more difficult in light of the possible heterogeneity of underlying genetic or environmental factors; 7. Many steps lie between the analysis of observed traits and interventions based on well-founded claims about the causal influence of genetic or environmental factors; 8. Explanation of variation within groups does not translate to explanation of differences among groups. At the start, I engage readers’ attention with three puzzles that have not been resolved by past debates. The puzzles concern generational increases in IQ test scores, the possibility of underlying heterogeneity, and the translation of methods from selective breeding into human genetics. After discussing the gaps, I present each puzzle in a new light and point to several new puzzles that invite attention from analysts of variation in quantitative genetics and in social science more generally. The article’s critical perspectives on agricultural, laboratory, and human heritability studies are intended to elicit further contributions from readers across the fields of history, philosophy, sociology, and politics of biology and in the sciences.
|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.
Neven Sesardic (2005). Making Sense of Heritability. Cambridge University Press.
Stephen M. Downes, Heredity and Heritability. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Peter J. Taylor (2005). Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement. University of Chicago Press.
Peter Taylor (2006). Heritability and Heterogeneity: The Limited Relevance of Heritability in Investigating Genetic and Environmental Factors. Biological Theory 1 (2):150-164.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Jesús Mosterín (2008). Social Factors in the Development of Genetics and the Lysenko Affair. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 96 (1):143-155.
John D. Mullen (2006). Nature, Nurture, and Individual Change. Behavior and Philosophy 34:1 - 17.
Kelly C. Smith (1992). The New Problem of Genetics: A Response to Gifford. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 7 (3):331-348.
L. G. & D. M. (2001). The Varied Lives of Organisms: Variation in the Historiography of the Biological Sciences. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 32 (1):1-29.
Peter Taylor (2006). Heritability and Heterogeneity: The Irrelevance of Heritability in Explaining Differences Between Means for Different Human Groups or Generations. Biological Theory 1 (4):392-401.
Omri Tal (2009). From Heritability to Probability. Biology and Philosophy 24 (1):81-105.
Matteo Mameli (2004). Nongenetic Selection and Nongenetic Inheritance. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (1):35-71.
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.
Added to index2009-07-04
Total downloads21 ( #153,755 of 1,780,850 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #291,797 of 1,780,850 )
How can I increase my downloads?