The Human Genome Project begun in 1990 changed our understanding of genetics and disorders. Furthermore, researchers have associated genetic basis for physical behaviors including aggression, impulsivity, nurturing. This movement of behavioral genetic determinism has been growing at an untamed rate, I worry about the consequences of this social perception.
The Human Genome Project, officially begun in 1990 and scheduled for completion between 2000 and 2003, has heralded a period in which genetic factors have been identified for numerous disorders. In addition, researchers in the field of behavioral genetics have asserted claims for a genetic basis of numerous physical behaviors, including homosexuality, aggression, impulsivity, and nurturing. A growing scientific and popular focus on genes and behavior has contributed to a resurgence of behavioral genetic determinism-the belief that genetics is the major factor in determining behavior. This could lead to grievous social consequences.
-Mark A. Rothstein, Behavioral Genetic Determinism: Its Effect on Culture and Law, in Behavioral Genetics: The Clash of Culture and Biology, 89-115. Ronald A. Carson & Mark A. Rothstein, eds. (Johns Hopkins University Press 1999)
We're beginning this blog with a challenge. Heavy controversy. Discussion.
We've all heard the phrases:
"I was born gay, I didn't have a choice."
"God made me this way."
"Don't judge me for who I am."
I am not equivocating murder and homosexuality, don't get me wrong. It merely is the most common phrase in our society associating behavior and genetics. We just haven't noticed the laugh-ability of the argument it because we hear it so often.
This belief is conceptually known as "Behavioral Genetics." It is the idea that we may have tendencies, traits that fate has decided for us in our future actions. This is a concept found commonly in various species of animals. Geese migrating, territorial behaviors in many creatures, expressions of happiness and sadness in humans. Sometimes, we even define a species based on behavior when everything else between the species may be identical such as the hirundo verbanaand and the erpobdella obscura.
So. Where is the limit. How far can we take this? What are the consequences of the decisions we make associating scientific lack-of-choice with fate, freedom of choice, responsibility?
Can we excuse the freedom to choose between male and female partners with genetics?
Comment below with your thoughts.