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

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9780801882241: Wrestling with Behavioral Genetics: Science, Ethics, and Public Conversation
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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 Genetics brings 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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Wrestling with Behavioral Genetics brings together an interdisciplinary group of contributors―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.

"What sets this collection apart from others is the way that contributions from a diverse authorship are integrated to form a coherent whole... Doubtless this book will soon become a classic within behavioral genetics and compulsory reading for the non-specialist seeking to understand the basic scientific, social, and ethical issues within the field."― American Journal of Bioethics

"Informative, provocative, and challenging, this book is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand this emerging field."― Social Theory and Practice

"Promoting public conversation about behavioral genetics will be increasingly pertinent to creating enlightened, fair, and representative public policy... The 'wrestling' will go on for some time to come."― New England Journal of Medicine

"This volume presents a fair and honest treatment of the field that is both cautious at times and also optimistic and hopeful."― Metapsychology

Erik Parens is a senior research scholar at the Hastings Center and a visiting professor in the Science, Technology, and Society Program at Sarah Lawrence College. Audrey R. Chapman is a professor of community medicine and Healey Chair in Medical Humanities and Bioethics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Nancy Press is a professor at the School of Nursing and the Department of Public Health at the School of Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University.

About the Author:

Erik Parens is a senior research scholar at the Hastings Center and a visiting professor in the Science, Technology, and Society Program at Sarah Lawrence College. Audrey R. Chapman is a professor of community medicine and Healey Chair in Medical Humanities and Bioethics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Nancy Press is a professor at the School of Nursing and the Department of Public Health at the School of Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University.

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Published by Johns Hopkins University Press (2005)
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