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Old 09-14-2009, 11:30 AM
claymisher claymisher is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Newbridge, NJ
Posts: 2,673
Default Re: New diavloggers we'd like to see

Originally Posted by Me&theboys View Post
I don't blame Dawkins. I blame people. As much as you hate the idea of genetic determinism, I hate the idea of cultural determinism. Being a female, I have a less sanguine view of culture and society than do most men, what with being constrained by it for most of human history and all. In my view, appeals to culture and society are not the way forward -they are the way backward, because culture is tenuous and conditional and more resistant to moral condemnation because of the human tendency to see and use our created institutions as independent validation of the behaviors they perpetuate. A genetic basis for personality and behavior, on the other hand, not only offers a path toward the scientific rejection of cultural untruths, it forces people to take a moral stand, independent of cultural tradition, on whether a particular practice or behavior is good or not. Culture is the embodiment of the ought from is argument. Culture makes implicit moralistic claims, many of them self-serving and wrong. Science does not. Since culture has not served women well throughout history, I'll take my chances with science, even if some of the findings are not to my liking. The truth is what the truth is. I happen to think our cultures and our societies have gotten the truth wrong in a LOT of areas. If I didn't think so, I'd probably be very opposed to behavioral genetics and related studies. So far, culture's track record is not so great in the areas I care about, so I see little to lose.

BTW, the above is why I am so opposed to organized religion and so eager to bring science to bear on religious claims and on the nature and causes of religious beliefs. Materialist explanations threaten our cherished beliefs. I think that's good, because many of our cherished beliefs have implications and consequences that suck.
So what, you think Jews are genetically sneaky? Just kidding.

I don't follow you here. I'm not defending tradition! I'm not saying culture and society are unbounded by biology (I'm pretty sure people universally need to eat and poop). I'm just saying those people are claiming they know way more than they can actually know. They turn "Black IQ test scores are lower" into "black people are genetically teh dumb" when we both know there's a lot more than that. This kind of sloppy thinking has an amazing record of failure: the Irish are genetically lazy, women are genetically hysterical and therefore can't be educated, blacks are dumb, etc. And people where always able to point to the evidence at the time and say, "Well look, the Irish are poor, where are the female doctors, etc?! Ipso facto QED *brushing-hands-motion* so there!" Time has proven the essentialists wrong so many times before (Ireland's richer than the UK today, more women become doctors than men, etc) that I think massive skepticism towards essentialist claims is a good idea.
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