Genes debate

Genes are units of hereditary information that tells the organism to produce a particular chemical, or to display a particular characteristic, e.g. blue eyes or brown hair. In this genes debate, genes are said to not only display these physical characteristics, but also determine our social behaviour (contrary from being a result of who we are from the way we are socialised). In the past, biological determinism has been used to justify racism, sexism and class inequalities. However, recent claims of biological determinism seem to be more outstanding and more scientific. The most well-known version of genetic determinism is sociobiology, advocated by E. O. Wilson.

The theory is: “social behaviour is determined biologically through our genes, which are in turn the products of million years of evolution.” Tiger, Fox and Wilson all argue that it is natural for males to be more aggressive and dominant than females. Although Wilson admits that men and women can choose to behave differently from those which he says are natural, but he says that if they do, they will cause society problems because they’re going against what they’re supposed to naturally do. Therefore, this implies that it’s useless to fight for women’s equality because men and women are born different and unequal.

Subsequently, consider this: If white people are on average more intelligent than black people (because of supposedly genetically inherited intelligence differences), it’s impossible to achieve equality between ethnic groups. If crime were mainly the result of individuals with “crime genes”, it’s useless to try to reduce the level of crime through a programme of social changes. If all human beings were naturally selfish and competitive, it would be impossible to have a cooperative, equal or sharing society.

Generally, sociologists reject genetic determinism. However, some of its assumptions are accepted. For example, functionalists like Parsons agree that because of the biological differences, men and women have different roles in the family i.e. the men being the breadwinner and the women being housewives and mother. Also, some radical feminists agree that male power derives from biological differences (e.g. physical strength of men is stronger than that of women’s, or, restrictions given to women due to child-bearing).

But still, functionalists believe that humans are mainly the products of their social structures and the culture values they’re socialised to accept. Also, feminists believe that inequality to women is the product of, again, social factors. Meanwhile, interactionists believe that characteristics or personalities are built from socialising (i.e. interacting) with other people since the day we’re born. Finally, Marxists also believes that human characteristics such as greed and social inequalities are products of an exploitive, competitive capitalist system, and not because of biological factors.

If we are all controlled by our genes, human behaviour would be almost the same in every part of the world. Furthermore, we would not change for a very long time because evolutionary changes take a long time. But, if we look at difference between the present and recent history, we see a huge difference in social behaviour and ways of organising society. For example, Margaret Ehrenberg quoted that most women in the past had far more status than recently, and probably had equality with men. Her justification was that it’s women’s economic role in any society that decides their status, not some biological inferiority.

Furthermore, no one knows if there’s any genetic basis for criminality, but what we do know is that crime is affected by social factors such as the level of unemployment. We also know, and have proof, that socialisation plays a part in showing responsibilities for gender roles (e.g. in children’s’ book). Conclusively, people can change. Our personalities are developed and undergo some changes as we grow up due to interaction with our social environment.

Despite having the name ‘biological’ in the term biological determinism, some of its critics are biologists and other natural scientists. True, evolution and genetics are important in understanding abilities and behaviour, but it doesn’t mean that we also have to believe that social behaviour and status are biologically determined. Stephen Rose, Richard Lewontin and Leon Kamin, who are natural scientists, are said to be the most critical of sociobiology, giving evidence against specific issues such as gender differences. They doubt studies of the separated twins made by sociobiologists and challenge the theory’s basic method, which they label as “reductionist” (the attempt to explain everything by reducing it to the most basic level i.e. in this case genes). Therefore society and social problems can’t be explained simply in biological terms.

Contrary to Wilson’s belief, even if human sexual behaviour is controlled by our genes, then females would also have the same rights to have children by different fathers as a safeguard against a partner having faulty or unhealthy genes. Of course, humans don’t organise sex lives completely under gene-control. In comparing human behaviour to animal behaviour, sociobiologists are eager to identify male aggression and domination in the animal world because this would justify their theory. Therefore cooperation and gender equality particularly found in animals like bonobo chimpanzees are not traits which would be favoured by sociobiologists. Humans develop as social, cooperative, language-using toolmakers. It’s unreasonable to assume that humans could be biologically or genetically determined for competitiveness and inequality.

The conclusion is, there is much more to social behaviour and social structures than genetic determinism because evidence against genetic determinism is tremendous. What appears to be purely biological, such as disease, even has a social factor behind it (e.g. pollution). Perhaps there are other reasons why ideas of biological determinism persist. According to Rose, Lewontin, Kamin and Gould, biological determinism lets the government of the hook when social-related problems arise, because they would be able to blame the individual instead of on the way the society is supposed to be organised.

The problems in social representations of scientific theories are blindingly obvious. As audiences simply absorb, in an impoverished and lessened form, the information and ideas which stem from scientific research, as depicted on television or in newspapers, real knowledge is …

Genes that are suspected to be involved in the development of alcoholism are referred to as candidate genes, genes that are candidates for involvement in the condition. They encode for some brain chemicals and permit the interaction between neurons. Two …

However, on the other hand, as stated by the interviewee B, the transgenic technology in medicine has achieved a lot. However, in agriculture it has gone wrong. The commercialization of genetically modified crops are designed mainly for farmers’ need, they …

Discuss The Likely Advantages And Problems Arising From The Introduction Of Genetically Modified Agricultural Crops (standard essay style) The process of genetically modifying crops involves the transfer of selected genes from one crop to another in order to enhance the plant …

David from Healtheappointments:

Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one? Check it out