Function, Gene and behavior

Abstract

In this paper I begin by examining a particularly disturbing eliminativist argument from Evelyn Fox Keller against the continued use of the very concept of the gene. If Fox Keller’s argument were to work, then any attempt to continue with or attempt to revise behavioral genetics would be doomed. In the course of replying to Fox Keller’s argument a revised, functional concept of the gene is presented and defending. Using this revised conception of the gene I then consider how appeal to a functional approach to the gene can itself lead to a more general functionalist revision of the basic behavioral genetics project. In the third part of the paper I then turn to examining the advantages with respect to scientific explanation that such a functionalist account can provide. And, I end by considering how such an account might provide some help in dealing with additional ethical worries, including additional ethical arguments from Fox Keller against the continued use of the concept of the gene as well as ethical concerns that have been raised regarding behaviorally designed babies.

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Shifting to Structures in Physics and Biology: A Prophylactic for Promiscuous Realism.Steven French - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (2):164-173.

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