Wrestling with Behavioral Genetics: Science, Ethics, and Public Conversation

Edited by Erik Parens, Audrey Chapman, and Nancy Press
(Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005)

Hardly a month goes by without a media report proclaiming that researchers have discovered the gene for some complex human behavior or trait – intelligence, dyslexia, shyness, homosexuality. The practical implications of genetic research can bring great good – relieving parents of self-blame for a child’s schizophrenia or autism and possibly treating genetic diseases in the future. Other findings – or pernicious interpretations of them –can cause great harm, for example, by establishing flawed connections between genetics, race, and educational attainment.Wrestling with Behavioral Geneticsbrings together an interdisciplinary group of contributors –human geneticists, humanists, social scientists, lawyers, and journalists – to discuss the ethical and social implications of behavioral genetics research. The essays give readers the necessary tools to critically analyze the findings of behavioral geneticists, explore competing interpretations of the ethical and social implications of those findings, and engage in a productive public conversation about them. This volume provides an accessible introduction to a fascinating and controversial science and the societal and individual implications of its continuing development.

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