How Darwinian reductionism refutes genetic determinism.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Genetic determinism labels the morally problematical claim that some socially significant traits, traits we care about, such as sexual orientation, gender roles, violence, alcoholism, mental illness, intelligence, are largely the results of the operation of genes and not much alterable by environment, learning or other human intervention. Genetic determinism does not require that genes literally fix these socially significant traits, but rather that they constrain them within narrow channels beyond human intervention. In this essay we analyze genetic determinism in light of what is now known about the inborn error of metabolism phenylketonuria (PKU), which has for so long been the poster child 'simple' argument in favor of some form of genetic determinism. We demonstrate that this case proves the exact opposite of what it has been proposed to support and provides a strong refutation of genetic determinism in all its guises.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rosoff, PM; Rosenberg, A

Published Date

  • March 2006

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 37 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 122 - 135

PubMed ID

  • 16473271

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1369-8486

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.shpsc.2005.12.005


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England