Advertisement

Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 711–723 | Cite as

Making Sense of the Nature–Nurture Debate

Review of Neven Sesardic (2005), Making Sense of Heritability. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
  • James Tabery
Article

Introduction

Neven Sesardic’s Making Sense of Heritability ((2005), Cambridge University Press) is an acrid, bitterly antagonistic contribution to the nature–nurture debate. Philosophers of science are accused of deliberate misrepresentation: of “willfully misread[ing]” hereditarians (p. 178), of “exegetical miscarriages” (p. 95), and of not taking “the trouble to study the sources” (p. 46). But, Sesardic surmises, “deliberate misrepresentation in attacks on hereditarianism is less frequent than sheer ignorance.” (p. 135) And so philosophers of science are also accused of lacking “elementary knowledge in biology” (p. 57), of “egregiously fallacious reasoning” (p. 228), and of embracing “crude and ill founded” arguments (p. 142). Sesardic’s frustration with the “mindless cheerleaders” from philosophy of science is palpable throughout the volume (p. 192).

What is a reader (or reviewer) to make of such rhetoric? One response might be to dismiss it (and the entire volume that harbors it)...

References

  1. Antony L (1997) Review of measured lies. Pers Psychol 50:481–485Google Scholar
  2. Block N (1995) How heritability misleads about race. Cognition 56:99–128. doi: 10.1016/0010-0277(95)00678-R CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Block N, Dworkin G (1976) IQ, heritability and inequality. In: Block N, Dworkin G (eds) The IQ controversy. Pantheon, New York, pp 410–540Google Scholar
  4. Caspi A, Moffitt TE (2006) Gene-environment interactions in psychiatry: joining forces with neuroscience. Nat Rev Neurosci 7:583–590. doi: 10.1038/nrn1925 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Caspi A, McClay J, Moffitt TE et al (2002) Role of genotype in the cycle of violence in maltreated children. Science 297:851–854. doi: 10.1126/science.1072290 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Caspi A, Sugden K, Moffitt TE et al (2003) Influence of life stress on depression: moderation by a polymorphism in the 5-HTT gene. Science 301:386–389. doi: 10.1126/science.1083968 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Caspi A, Moffitt TE, Cannon M et al (2005) Moderation of the effect of adolescent-onset cannabis use in adult psychosis by a functional polymorphism in the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene: longitudinal evidence of a gene × environment interaction. Biol Psychiatry 57:1117–1127. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.01.026 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chase A (1980) The legacy of Malthus: the social costs of the new scientific racism. University of Illinois Press, UrbanaGoogle Scholar
  9. Cooper RM, Zubek JP (1958) Effects of enriched and restricted early environments on the learning ability of bright and dull rats. Can J Psychol 12(3):159–164. doi: 10.1037/h0083747 Google Scholar
  10. Daniels N (1974) IQ, heritability, and human nature. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, pp 143–180Google Scholar
  11. Downes S (2009) Heredity and heritability. In: Zalta EN (ed) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2004/entries/heredity/
  12. Eckberg DL (1979) Intelligence and race: the origins and dimensions of the IQ controversy. Praeger, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. Eysenck HJ (1971) The IQ argument: race, intelligence and education. Open Court Publishing Co., LaSalleGoogle Scholar
  14. Eysenck HJ (1973) The inequality of man. Temple Smith, LondonGoogle Scholar
  15. Feldman MW, Lewontin RC (1975) The heritability hang-up. Science 190:1163–1168. doi: 10.1126/science.1198102 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fisher RA (1925) Statistical methods for research workers. Oliver and Boyd Ltd, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
  17. Fisher RA, Mackenzie WA (1923) Studies in crop variation. II. The manurial response of different potato varieties. J Agric Sci 13:311–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fuller T, Sarkar S, Crews D (2005) The use of norms of reaction to analyze genotypic and environmental influences on behavior in mice and rats. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 29:445–456. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2004.12.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gould SJ, Lewontin RC (1979) The spandrels of san marco and the panglossian paradigm: a critique of the adaptationist programme. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 205:581–598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Griffiths PE, Tabery J (2008) Behavioral genetics and development: historical and conceptual causes of controversy. New Ideas Psychol 26:332–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Herrnstein RJ (1971) I.Q. Atl Mon 228:43–64Google Scholar
  22. Herrnstein RJ (1973) I.Q. in the meritocracy. Little, Brown and Company, BostonGoogle Scholar
  23. Hogben L (1933) Nature and nurture, being the William Withering memorial lectures. George Allen and Unwin Ltd, LondonGoogle Scholar
  24. Jencks C, Smith M, Acland H et al (1972) Inequality: a reassessment of the effect of family and schooling in America. Basic Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  25. Jensen AR (1969) How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement? Harv Educ Rev 39:1–123Google Scholar
  26. Jensen AR (1970) Race and the genetics of intelligence: a reply to Lewontin. Bull At Sci 26:17–23Google Scholar
  27. Jensen AR (1972) The IQ controversy: a reply to Layzer. Cognition 1:427–452. doi: 10.1016/0010-0277(72)90008-X CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jensen AR (1973) Educability and group differences. Harper and Row, Publishers, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Jensen AR (1975) The meaning of heritability in the behavioral sciences. Educ Psychol 11:171–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kaplan JM (2000) The limits and lies of human genetic research. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  31. Kendler KS (2005) Psychiatric genetics: a methodologic critique. Am J Psychiatry 162:3–11. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.162.1.3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Laudan L (1977) Progress and its problems. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  33. Layzer D (1972a) Science or superstition? (A physical scientist looks at the IQ controversy). Cognition 1:265–299. doi: 10.1016/0010-0277(72)90022-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Layzer D (1972b) Jensen’s reply: the sounds of silence. Cognition 1:453–473. doi: 10.1016/0010-0277(72)90009-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Layzer D (1974) Heritability analyses of IQ scores: science or numerology. Science 183:1259–1266. doi: 10.1126/science.183.4131.1259 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Levin M (1997) Why race matters: race differences and what they mean. Praeger, WestportGoogle Scholar
  37. Lewontin RC (1970a) Race and intelligence. Bull At Sci 26:2–8Google Scholar
  38. Lewontin RC (1970b) Further remarks on race and the genetics of intelligence. Bull At Sci 26:23–25Google Scholar
  39. Lewontin RC (1974) The analysis of variance and the analysis of causes. Am J Hum Genet 26:400–411Google Scholar
  40. Lewontin RC (1975) Genetic aspects of intelligence. Annu Rev Genet 9:387–405. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ge.09.120175.002131 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Longino HE (2001) What do we measure when we measure aggression? Stud Hist Philos Sci Part A 32:685–704. doi: 10.1016/S0039-3681(01)00020-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lush JL (1937) Animal breeding plans. Collegiate Press, Inc., AmesGoogle Scholar
  43. Matthews MR (1980) The Marxist theory of schooling: a study of epistemology and education. Harvester Press, SussexGoogle Scholar
  44. Oftedal G (2005) Heritability and causation. Philos Sci 72:699–709. doi: 10.1086/508126 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Oyama S (2000) Causal democracy and causal contributions in developmental systems theory. Philos Sci 67:S332–S347. doi: 10.1086/392830 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Plomin R, DeFries JC (1976) Heritability of IQ. Science 194:10–12. doi: 10.1126/science.194.4260.10 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Plomin R, DeFries JC, Loehlin JC (1977) Genotype-environment interaction and correlation in the analysis of human behavior. Psychol Bull 84:309–322. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.84.2.309 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Richardson RC (1984) Biology and ideology: the interpretation of science and values. Philos Sci 51:396–420. doi: 10.1086/289191 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Robert JS (2004) Embryology, epigenesis, and evolution: taking development seriously. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  50. Rutter M (2006) Genes and behavior: nature–nurture interplay explained. Blackwell Publishing, MaldenGoogle Scholar
  51. Sarkar S (1998) Genetics and reductionism. Cambridge Universitiy Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  52. Schaffner KF (2006) Reduction: the Cheshire cat problem and a return to roots. Synthese 151:377–402. doi: 10.1007/s11229-006-9031-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sesardic N (1993) Heritability and causality. Philos Sci 60:396–418. doi: 10.1086/289743 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sesardic N (2000) Philosophy of science that ignores science: race, IQ and heritability. Philos Sci 67:580–602. doi: 10.1086/392856 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sesardic N (2003) Heritability and indirect causation. Philos Sci 70:1002–1014. doi: 10.1086/377384 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sesardic N (2005) Making sense of heritability. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  57. Simpson GG, Roe A, Lewontin RC (1960) Quantitative zoology, Revised edn. Harcourt, Brace and Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  58. Sober E (2000) The meaning of genetic causation. In: Buchanan A, Brock DW, Daniels N, Wilker D (eds) From chance to choice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 347–370Google Scholar
  59. Tabery J (2007) Biometric and developmental gene-environment interactions: looking back, moving forward. Dev Psychopathol 19:961–976. doi: 10.1017/S0954579407000478 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Tabery J (2008) R. A. Fisher, Lancelot Hogben, and the origin(s) of genotype-environment interaction. J Hist Biol 41:717–761. doi: 10.1007/s10739-008-9155-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Waddington CH (1957) The strategy of the genes. Allen and Unwin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  62. Wahlsten D (1990) Insensitivity of the analysis of variance to heredity-environment interaction. Behav Brain Sci 13:109–161Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

Personalised recommendations