Challenging Genetic Determinism

Challenging Genetic Determinism: New Perspectives on the Gene in Its Multiple Environments

LOUIS MAHEU
RODERICK A . MACDONALD
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 344
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zntk
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Challenging Genetic Determinism
    Book Description:

    Advances in genetic research have captured the attention of the media and the public through reports about genetically caused diseases and behaviours. However, all too often the coverage of scientists’ innovations has implied that genetic factors alone are responsible for effects ranging from personality and sexual preferences to morbid obesity and intellectual disabilities. Challenging Genetic Determinism argues that hypotheses cannot be based solely on genetic factors but must take into account the context in which these factors occur.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8654-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
    LOUIS MAHEU, RODERICK A. MACDONALD, L. M. and R. A. M.
  4. Contributors
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-2)
    LOUIS MAHEU and RODERICK A. MACDONALD

    The RSC: The Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada is dedicated to the advancement of exceptional learning, research, and accomplishments in the various disciplines of the scientific, cultural, and artistic universes. It strives to promote scholarship and the dissemination of new knowledge in important matters of public interest. The Social Sciences Academy (Academy II) adheres to and pursues these foundational values of the RSC: The Academies. Its members are fully engaged in producing and sharing ideas and understanding, both through their own scholarly activities and through their deep commitment to interdisciplinary dialogue with other scholarly disciplines, which will...

  6. The Changing Boundaries of Genes and Social Environment in Perspective: An Overview
    (pp. 3-48)
    LOUIS MAHEU and RODERICK A. MACDONALD

    The debates and questions thrown up by attempts to explore genetically and environmentally influenced processes and behaviours are, of course, part of the scientific and intellectual history of humanity – a history full of intriguing queries and fantastic discoveries. For many centuries the quest for knowledge and understanding of life’s most profound questions was deeply embedded within overarching philosophical discourses, if not entrenched in religious beliefs and dogmas.

    Only in the past few centuries has this quest been transformed into an array of systematic scholarly research questions. Indeed, in this universe of intellectual queries and discoveries, as in many other facets...

  7. SECTION ONE GENES AND PERSONALITY TRAITS
    • Special Challenges of Complex Behavioural Traits: Gene Discovery and Applications
      (pp. 51-77)
      DOUGLAS WAHLSTEN

      Major advances in molecular genetics make headlines almost every day when one human characteristic or disease after another is reported to depend on some gene. Media coverage spawns hope that genetic science may before too long lead to cures or treatments for major medical disorders. At the same time, fears of a renewed genetic determinism and even eugenics are stoked by journalists and enthusiastic scientists hyping the latest discoveries. As scientists, we welcome this increased level of interest in our work, along with the increased funding for our research that accompanies it, while as citizens we worry that public discourse...

    • Personality Genetics
      (pp. 78-98)
      JONATHAN FLINT

      I’m going to use personality as an exemplar of the possibilities that molecular genetic approaches open up for investigating the biology of behaviour. As I suppose is true in all scientific fields, research is driven by the tools we have available, and when transformational technologies come along transformations do occur. The genetics tools we have in biological research seem never to stop transforming the way we do science: from the eraBC(before cloning) to the near future when we will routinely sequence the genomes of individuals (a current project at the Sanger Institute outside Cambridge aims to sequence 1,000...

    • Gene x Stress Interactions: An Integrative Perspective
      (pp. 99-126)
      DAVID GOLDMAN

      This chapter describes discoveries of functional loci that influence behaviour through the stress domain, with validation through the coherent, multi-level effects of these alleles not only on complex behaviour but also on intermediate phenotypes reflective of the intervening steps between gene and behaviour. This discussion addresses the process and results of discovery for several functional loci which were validated during the first decade of this century, and including functional variants at the monoamine oxidase A gene (MAOA), neuropeptide Y (NPY), catechol-O-methyl-transferase (COMT), and the serotonin transporter (SLC6A4). Other examples are also listed. This functional genomics/intermediate phenotype approach is contrasted and...

  8. SECTION TWO SOCIAL AND ETHICAL ISSUES CHALLENGING GENES AND ENVIRONMENT INTERPLAYS
    • Gene-Environment Interaction: The Gulf Between What We Know and What We Do
      (pp. 129-157)
      FRANÇOISE BAYLIS

      This chapter critically examines the gulf between what we – scientists and ethicists – know about the limits of genetics and genetic research and the myriad ways in which what we do belies this knowledge. For example, we know that genes acting alone or in concert are not sufficient for development, yet we enthusiastically report on, read about, and sometimes even celebrate discoveries of this or that gene for this or that trait. Taken together, our words and actions contribute to geneticization and genetic essentialism. The challenge before us then is to take development seriously and to expose the ways in which...

    • Public Representations of Genetics: Reifying Race?
      (pp. 158-181)
      TIMOTHY CAULFIELD

      As I was moving across Canada to take up my first research position in 1993, I read Ruth Hubbard and Elijah Wald’s book,Exploding the Gene Myth(1993). The book still sits on a shelf in my office. At the time, I had not yet done much of my own work on the ethical, legal, and social issues associated with genetic research, and this accessible book seemed like a good place to get some background regarding emerging concerns. Immediately after I finished that book, I read Troy Duster’sEugenics through the Backdoor(1990). These books provided a provocative and particular...

    • An Interaction of Genes in Our Social Environment: Genetic Discrimination among Persons at Risk for Huntington Disease
      (pp. 182-204)
      YVONNE BOMBARD and MICHAEL R. HAYDEN

      The interplay between genes and the environment may take on many forms. Genes may interact with environmental factors to change the direction or magnitude of the effect of a genetic variant. Alternatively, environmental factors may facilitate the phenotypic expression of disease-susceptibility genes. Taking a broader socio-behavioural perspective, it is also possible to regard genes and genetic information as interacting with thesocial“environment” to influence reaction and treatment among persons in society.

      The rapid advances in genomic medicine offer many diagnostic, treatment, and reproductive options as well as the possibility of peering into our genetic futures. However, these powerful new...

  9. SECTION THREE Interactive Models of Genes and Environment Interplays: Some Examples and Observations
    (pp. 205-206)

    This third section addresses issues for which more comprehensive and fine-grained interactive models offer promising research avenues and a robust basis for exploring the changing frontier between genes and environment as determinants of human health and behaviour.

    In a first contribution, Richard Tremblay looks at the potential for more solid experimental prevention analyses of anti-social and physical aggressive behaviour. Robust data already gathered about the impacts of adverse rearing contexts on child development, including interesting developments in epigenetic studies, may suggest better research strategies for experiments aimed at the prevention of anti-social and aggressive behaviour. Martha McClintock et al. argue...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 287-308)
    RODERICK A. MACDONALD and LOUIS MAHEU

    This collection of essays is the result of collaboration between leading scholars drawn from fields as diverse as biology, epidemiology, anthropology, sociology, law, and ethics. Scholars from many other disciplines, notably in the health sciences, history, policy studies, economics, and philosophy, have also attended to the themes raised here, as have playwrights, painters, sculptors, musicians, poets, and film-makers to name only some. As editors, we believe that each field of knowledge and artistic expression has a role to play in addressing the relationships among gene expressions, behaviour, and the social fabric.

    But this collection is much more than simply a...

  11. Index
    (pp. 309-319)