Article ID: CBB479437147

Idealisation, genetic explanations and political behaviours: Notes on the anti-reductionist critique of genopolitics (2021)


The rapid development of genetic research, determined, among others, by the requirements of The Human Genome Project, and a gradual reorientation in the perception of the role of nature and culture in the process of shaping complex networks of human relations by some political scientists, result in the increasing application of genetic data and methods in research regarding political behaviours. One of the key philosophical objections against the studies of the genetic foundations of political behaviours is that of excessive reductionism. This is supposed to manifest itself in the inadequate selection of the level of analysis for the explained phenomenon, the incompleteness of explanations and their low utility. My findings show that this objection is not sufficiently supported by contemporary science. Both studies using classical behavioural genetic methodologies and studies using DNA-based methods show that genes most likely play a role in political behaviours. Emphasising the significance of genetic influences in the midst of multiple extra-genetic interactions generates highly idealised explanations. Using the conceptual apparatus of the deformational concept of culture, I have demonstrated that the omission of a number of important extra-genetic influences by researchers is a consequence of focusing on specific causal patterns. This omission, however, does not entail negating the influence of non-genetic factors and, importantly, it may not have to be permanent. Following this approach, if correct, the reductionism of research into the genetic foundations of political behaviours is a standard cognitive procedure applied in science.

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Authors & Contributors
Lawrence, Susan C.
Fales, Evan
Weir, Robert F.
García-Sancho, Miguel
Rhodri Ivor Leng
Gil Viry
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
Perspectives on Science
Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society
Science as Culture
University of Iowa Press
Simon & Schuster
Joseph Henry Press
Human genetics
Philosophy of science
Russell, Bertrand Arthur William
Venter, J. Craig
Spinoza, Baruch
Descartes, René
Hobbes, Thomas
Time Periods
20th century, late
21st century
20th century
20th century, early
17th century
United States
British Isles
Human Genome Project
National Institute of Health (U.S.)

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