Behavioral Genetics and Social Science

Alkaa kello
Päättyy kello

Pinni B-rakennus, ls 4141 (Kanslerinrinne 1)

Petri Ylikoski (Helsingin yliopisto) filosofian tutkijaseminaarissa

Behavioral Genetics and Social Science

The relation between behavioral genetics and social sciences has long been controversial. Many social scientists regard behavioral genetics as both reductionist and reactionary approach to social phenomena. In this presentation I argue that social scientists should rethink their approach. The old ideas about genetic determinism have pretty much died with the rise of new molecular genetics.

The focus of research has moved from the opposition between genome and environment to the interaction of the two in the production of socially interesting outcomes. Given the public authority of biological research, it is imperative for the future of the social sciences to develop constructive ways to deal with genetic (and other biological) findings.

To provide a basis for a new approach I argue that thinking social explanation in terms of causal mechanisms provides the best way to accommodate genetics with social theories. Furthermore, I argue that genes are in fact the new frontier for the social imagination: rather than treating genes as ultimate explanations or irrelevant nuisances, we should regard them as legitimate sociological variables. Rather than trying to deny genes, the social scientist should actively try to incorporate them into their views of social processes.

As an example of how to do this, I discuss Jeremy Freese's recent ideas about genetic explanation in sociology. Finally, I argue that philosophers could serve as useful facilitators in the rethinking of relation between biological and social explanations.



professori Arto Laitinen
050 318 7018