Non-Fiction Books:

Genes - Just How Important Are They? - Weighing the Causal Importance of Genes and Environment in Development



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Genes - Just How Important Are They? - Weighing the Causal Importance of Genes and Environment in Development by Terence Sullivan
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Amongst the general population it is widely held that it is possible to say how much of a characteristic is due to nature and how much is due to nurture. The thought in the background here is that some causes are more important than others. However, there is a longstanding consensus within biology that such talk is in fact meaningless. So what is going on here? One answer is that talk of causal importance should be understood in non-causal terms. I consider three possibilities of how this might be done. The second answer is that despite the consensus it is possible to weigh causes. I explore five attempts utilizing the notions of information, limit setting, causal depth (both as necessity and priority), and invariance and insensitivity. Ultimately none of these attempts succeed. However, I argue that it is possible to answer a similar but separate question, namely, how much difference genes/the environment make to a characteristic. The account offered is the first book-length philosophical treatment of whether it is possible to weigh the causes of development and it will be of interest to philosophers of biology and philosophers more generally.
Release date Australia
February 26th, 2008
Country of Publication
Illustrations, black and white
VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller E.K.
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