Wednesday, January 12, 2005

When genes are significant

A useful question to ask as regards the relationship between genes and the mind is in what circumstances is it useful to to consider the influence of genes.

At the level of individual responsibility No Right Turn sums it up -
...we are meaningfully free despite the fact that our brains are deterministic and therefore our actions are ultimately caused by events beyond our control; we are free insofar as our actions stem from our beliefs and desires. It's about ownership...
(In some ways this is reminiscent of the radical freedom of existentialism - we are free of class and biology).

But because genetic influence is statistical in nature their influence becomes important at the level of groups rather than the individual. And at that level an understanding of how genes effect psychology can play a positive role in the development of public policy on such issues as gambling, drug addiction, positive discrimination etc.

Also, in terms of understanding Why People Are Often Not Very Pleasant, genetics gives a far better account than traditional political and religious explanations.

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