Concept/Content biological determinism / Time magazine cover suggesting genetically determined human behavior
Information caption As a flawed doctrine, biological determinism also has significant political overtones, not justified by science. Characterizing society as "merely" biological implies that any social organization disparity in wealth, for example is inherent in nature and cannot be changed. The appeal to nature obscures how human interaction, or politics at the social level contributes to the outcome. Biological determinist claims function socially to preserve the status quo: to protect power and acquired wealth, and to peripheralize moral analysis. Further, the appeal to science and its authority implies that the view is proven and cannot be challenged, further concealing the role of human politics.
Inquiry caption In popular culture, biology – including behavior — is typically reduced to genes, as exemplified in this Time magazine cover headline. What examples in this presentation limit that conception for moral behavior? For example, what are the roles of learned behaviors at the psychological level and of regulation of behavior through interactions at the social level?
In what ways do such perspectives of biological determinism shape assumptions about the biology of morality? How might any such misleading assumptions in our culture be remedied?
Target Concept: Higher levels of organization limit reductionistic explanations of behavior.
Source Time, August 15, 1994
SIZE in pixels [file size] 400x527

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