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biological determinism

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❶There's a limit to how saintly we can ever become, set by animal nature. Psychological Bulletin , , Vol.

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Scientists such as ecologists [4] and behavioural geneticists [5] now see it as obvious that both factors are essential, and that they are intertwined. Late in the 20th century, the determinism of gender roles was debated by geneticists and others.

Biologists such as John Money and Anke Ehrhardt attempted to describe femininity and homosexuality according to then-current social standards; against this, the evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin and others argued that clothing and other preferences vary in different societies.

Wilson founded the discipline of sociobiology, founded on observations of animals such as social insects , controversially suggesting that its explanations of social behaviour might apply to humans. In , the Austrian biologist August Weismann proposed that multicellular organisms consist of two separate types of cell: He called the material that carried the information, now identified as DNA , the germ plasm , and individual components of it, now called genes , determinants. This effectively denied that Lamarckism inheritance of acquired characteristics was a possible mechanism of evolution.

Early ideas of biological determinism centred on the inheritance of undesirable traits, whether physical such as club foot or cleft palate , or psychological such as alcoholism , bipolar disorder and criminality. The belief that such traits were inherited led to the desire to solve the problem with the eugenics movement, led by a follower of Darwin , Francis Galton — , by forcibly reducing breeding by supposedly defective people.

By the s, many U. This was followed by similar laws in Germany in the s. Under the influence of determinist beliefs, the American craniologist Samuel George Morton — , and later the French anthropologist Paul Broca — , attempted to measure the cranial capacities internal skull volumes of people of different skin colours, intending to show that whites were superior to the rest, with larger brains.

All the supposed proofs from such studies were invalidated by methodological flaws. The results were used to justify slavery , and to oppose women's suffrage. Alfred Binet — designed tests specifically to measure performance, not innate ability. From the late 19th century, the American school, led by researchers such as H. Goddard — , Lewis Terman — , and Robert Yerkes — , transformed these tests into tools for measuring inherited mental ability.

They attempted to measure people's intelligence with IQ tests , to demonstrate that the resulting scores were heritable , and so to conclude that people with white skin were superior to the rest. It proved impossible to design culture-independent tests and to carry out testing in a fair way given that people came from different backgrounds, or were newly arrived immigrants, or were illiterate.

The results were used to oppose immigration of people from southern and eastern Europe to America. Lynda Birke argues in her book In Pursuit of Difference that biology explains sexual differences by the mechanisms of chromosomes, genetics, and inheritance.

The neuroscientist Simon LeVay in studied the difference in hypothalamic structures between homosexual and heterosexual men, finding that the INAH-3 suggested a partial cause for homosexuality. The biologists John Money and Anke Ehrhardt looked for ways to describe femininity that fitted their own social standards, such as clothing preference or using makeup.

The experiment, in Lewontin's words, "ignores the existence of societies in which women wear pants, or in which men wear skirts, or in which men enjoy and appropriate jewelry to themselves. The belief in biological determinism has been matched by a blank slate denial of any possible influence of genes on human behavior, leading to a long and heated debate about "nature and nurture".

By the 21st century, many scientists had come to feel that the dichotomy made no sense. They noted that genes were expressed within an environment, in particular that of prenatal development , and that genes were continuously controlled by the environment through mechanisms such as epigenetics.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the profession, see Geneticist. Biological determinism of human gender roles.

Sociobiology emerged with E. Wilson 's book Sociobiology: The evolutionary biologist W. Hamilton proposed "genes underlying altruism" in All normally developed humans have eyes for seeing, hearts for pumping blood, and so on, as specified by this genetic blueprint. Behavioral genetic determinism is an extreme form of nativism that emphasizes the innateness of knowledge. Historically, nativism has been contrasted with empiricism, which emphasizes the environment as the source of knowledge, learning, and behavior.

A modern doctrine of empiricism is found in British philosophy of the s and s, which argued that humans are born with no innate mental content, equating the mind to a blank slate for experience to write upon. Modern nativism did not emerge until Charles Darwin — proposed in that, through natural selection , humans are descended from other life forms.

In the social sciences, initial support for nativism was provided by William James — , who argued that humans have more instincts than animals, thus shattering the dichotomy between instinct and reason. At that time it was believed that animals were instinctive and unintelligent, whereas humans were rational and intelligent.

The pendulum swung back to empiricism when behaviorism, a new paradigm in psychology, emerged and endorsed domain-general learning through simple conditioning procedures as the source of all knowledge. Psychology, anthropology, and sociology endorsed this position for much of the twentieth century. Contrasting genetically determined versus environmentally determined explanations of behavior is analogous to the long-standing debate that incorrectly pits nature genes, instincts, adaptations, biology against nurture environment, experience, general learning mechanisms, culture.

Anthropologist Edward Hagen argues, however, that nature is a product of nurture, and that nurture is a product of nature. To illustrate this statement, one must examine evolution through natural selection. Hagen compares natural selection to a learning algorithm that uses information from the environment to select gene combinations that aid in reproduction.

These gene combinations are stored in the genome as this learned information forms the basis of an adaptation. Because adaptations are the product of environmental influences, and are designed by natural selection over evolutionary history, it would be uninformed to discuss genes or adaptations without knowledge of the context in which they evolved.

In this way, nature is a product of nurture. At the same time, nurture is a product of nature. It is unlikely that a truly blank-slate version of the mind would be able to learn anything from the environment. This was the nativist argument advanced by anthropologist John Tooby and psychologist Leda Cosmides regarding the functional design of the mind. Tooby and Cosmides argued that learning and behavior depend on content-dependent information processing mechanisms and that once a specialized psychological architecture is in place, adaptive challenges can be met with ease.

All humans have a universal, species-typical mind, in the same way that all humans have a universal, species-typical physical anatomy. One way to illustrate this universal architecture is to examine fear. In an experiment designed by psychologist Susan Mineka and colleagues , infant rhesus monkeys were exposed to one of two videotaped scenarios, one depicting a monkey reacting in terror to a snake, the other depicting a monkey reacting in terror to flowers. Monkeys that viewed the tape showing the reaction to a snake quickly acquired a fear of snakes, but monkeys that viewed the tape showing the same reaction to flowers did not acquire a fear of flowers.

It appears that humans also are prepared to learn quickly which features in the environment are threatening and ignore those features that are not. Common phobias in humans include spiders, darkness, and snakes, all of which were adaptive threats in ancestral environments. Learning is not an explanation of behavior, but behavior requiring explanation.

The explanation lies in an evolved psychology and the specific problems this psychology has been designed to solve. Psychologist Paul Ekman demonstrated that disgust is an emotion that is experienced universally, and the facial expression showing disgust is a reaction that is recognized universally by others.

Paul Rozin and April Fallon hypothesized that disgust is a human adaptation designed to prevent parasites and disease from entering the body. Rotten meat is disgusting to all humans because if consumed it would probably lead to illness. Many species of flies, however, find rotten meat appealing because flies have different evolved mechanisms.

Not all cues are as obvious to the human senses as rotten meat, however. With thousands of potentially edible fruits and plants, it would have been beneficial to use the reactions of others when deciding what to eat, rather than relying on a trial-and-error learning system. If a harmful substance is sensed, the body will expel and withdraw from the substance and the disgust face will be made.

Other individuals will benefit from this disgust reaction only if they are equipped to pair the disgust face to the disgusting substance, and learn to avoid it. Again, learning is guided by a universal psychological architecture and explained according to the adaptive challenges it has been designed to solve. If all humans have the same design of the mind, does that mean human behavior is genetically determined?

Adaptations have a genetic basis. However, Hagen argues that because the mind contains many adaptations, all of which respond to cues in the environment, the mind could encompass an enormous number of states with an enormous number of behavioral outcomes.

Because humans have an evolved fear of snakes does not mean that everyone is destined to fear all snakes in all situations. Many people have an affinity for snakes, even allowing them into their home as pets.

Adaptations do not limit behavior, but instead enable behavior and create behavioral flexibility because a larger set of adaptations can respond with a greater array of behavioral outcomes. Insights from biology, cognitive science, ecology, anthropology, and psychology have been combined to examine genes from an adaptationist perspective in the emerging discipline of evolutionary psychology. Strict genetic determinism is rejected in favor of an account of human behavior that includes both genetic and environmental influences.

The Face of Man: Controversial Issues in Evolutionary Psychology. In The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology , ed. David Buss, — The Principles of Psychology. Animal Learning and Behavior 8: Rozin, Paul, and April E. A Perspective on Disgust. Tooby, John, and Leda Cosmides.

The Psychological Foundations of Culture. In The Adapted Mind:

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Biological determinism, also called biologism or biodeterminism, the idea that most human characteristics, physical and mental, are determined at conception by hereditary factors passed from parent to offspring.

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Biological determination (also biologism) is the interpretation of humans and human life from a strictly biological point of view, and it is closely related to genetic determinism.

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Biological determinism refers to the idea that all human behavior is innate, determined by genes, brain size, or other biological attributes. This theory stands in contrast to the notion that human behavior is determined by culture or other social forces. Biological determinism (often shortened to "bio-determinism" and used synonymously with biologism or genetic determinism) is a common fallacy that implies that biology does and should completely dictate human behavior or the behavior of a certain subset of humans, such as black people or males.

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Biological determinism as a theoretical perspective within the biological positivist movement, moved away from pure reason and belief by relying on observation, logic, the development of theory and testable hypotheses, and the systematic collection and analysis of data. See also determinism (genetic determinism) The idea that an individual's personality or behaviour is caused by their particular genetic endowment, rather than by social or cultural factors—by nature rather than nurture The stance that males are the naturally dominant sex by virtue of anatomy and genetics or that women are naturally carers by virtue of their reproductive capabilities