Laypeople Are Strategic Essentialists, Not Genetic Essentialists

Hastings Center Report 49 (S1):27-37 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

In the last third of the twentieth century, humanists and social scientists argued that attention to genetics would heighten already‐existing genetic determinism, which in turn would intensify negative social outcomes, especially sexism, racism, ableism, and harshness to criminals. They assumed that laypeople are at risk of becoming genetic essentialists. I will call this the “laypeople are genetic essentialists model.” This model has not accurately predicted psychosocial impacts of findings from genetics research. I will be arguing that the failure of the model can be traced to its inability to recognize the complexity of laypeople’s attitudes; its incorrect theory of how beliefs, attitudes, and discourse function; and its blindness to how academics’ own interests can override the available evidence. More specifically, I suggest that the substantial data about laypeople’s deployment of genetics supports what I will call the “laypeople are strategic essentialists model” better than the “laypeople are genetic essentialists model.” The strategic essentialists model holds that people tend to store multiple categories, including multiple causal forces, that they deploy “strategically” to serve context‐dependent goals. It will be difficult for academics to reorient ourselves to model laypeople as sophisticated strategic essentialists rather than as naïve genetic essentialists. Perhaps a little shift, however, will be of value.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,069

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Lange on essentialism, counterfactuals, and explanation.Toby Handfield - 2005 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (1):81 – 85.
A Response to Chisholm’s Paradox.Andrew Dennis Bassford - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (4):1137-1155.
The New Aristotelian Essentialists.Harold W. Noonan - 2018 - Metaphysica 19 (1):87-93.
Art Concept Pluralism.Christy Mag Uidhir & P. D. Magnus - 2011 - Metaphilosophy 42 (1-2):83-97.
Infinite idealizations in physics.Elay Shech - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (9):e12514.
Hamilton’s Principle and Dispositional Essentialism: Friends or Foes?Vassilis Livanios - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (1):59-71.
Counterpart Theory, Natural Properties, and Essentialism.Todd Buras - 2006 - Journal of Philosophy 103 (1):27-42.
How Physics and Metaphysics Interact in Spacetime.Alireza Mansouri - 2015 - Persian Journal on Metaphysics 6 (18):61-76.
Essentialists and essentialism.Michael Della Rocca - 1996 - Journal of Philosophy 93 (4):186-202.
Essentialists and Essentialism.Michael Della Rocca - 1996 - Journal of Philosophy 93 (4):186-202.
In defense of essentialism.L. A. Paul - 2006 - Philosophical Perspectives 20 (1):333–372.

Analytics

Added to PP
2019-07-04

Downloads
28 (#500,423)

6 months
5 (#284,395)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?