The fearless vampire conservator: Phillip Kitcher and genetic determinism

In Christoph Rehmann-Sutter & Eva M. Neumann-Held (eds.), Genes in Development: Rethinking the Molecular Paradigm. Duke University Press. pp. 175-198 (2006)

Authors
Paul Edmund Griffiths
University of Sydney
Abstract
Genetic determinism is the idea that many significant human characteristics are rendered inevitable by the presence of certain genes. The psychologist Susan Oyama has famously compared arguing against genetic determinism to battling the undead. Oyama suggests that genetic determinism is inherent in the way we currently represent genes and what genes do. As long as genes are represented as containing information about how the organism will develop, they will continue to be regarded as determining causes no matter how much evidence exists to the contrary. Philip Kitcher has strongly disputed Oyama’s diagnosis, arguing that the conventional ‘interactionist’ perspective on development is the correct framework for understanding the role of the genes in development. While acknowledging the legitimacy of many of Kitcher’s observations, I believe that Oyama’s view is substantially correct. In this paper I provide several lines of support for support the Oyama diagnosis.
Keywords Category B1 - Book Chapter - Research   genes development gene expression gene regulation developmental systems genetic information
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Innateness and the Sciences.Matteo Mameli & Patrick Bateson - 2006 - Biology and Philosophy 21 (2):155-188.
How Biologists Conceptualize Genes: An Empirical Study.Karola Stotz, Paul E. Griffiths & Rob Knight - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 35 (4):647-673.
Re-Examining the Gene in Personalized Genomics.Jordan Bartol - 2013 - Science & Education 22 (10):2529-2546.
The Phylogeny Fallacy and the Ontogeny Fallacy.Adam Hochman - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (4):593-612.
Innate Cognitive Capacities.Muhammad ali KhAlidi - 2007 - Mind and Language 22 (1):92-115.

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