Philosophical and Theoretical Perspectives

Biologists, psychologists, and philosophers have engaged in high-level theorizing about the effects of genes on traits in general and on human behavior in particular. Perhaps the most vigorous and ongoing discussion has been generated by a variety of papers and books that can be loosely characterized as a "developmentalist challenge" to the separability of genetic and environmental contributions to an organism's features (Schaffner, 1998). Over the years, the biologist Richard Lewontin's views have been particularly influential in this regard. Similar views critical of an overemphasis of genetic influence on traits have been articulated by several other scholars (see Cycles of Contingency [2001], by Susan Oyama, Paul Griffiths, and Russell Gray, which presents a number of contributions to "developmental systems theory" [DST]). Thus far, DST has largely been directed at critiquing DNA priority in molecular developmental and evolutionary claims, and at recommending more epigenetic-driven research. It is conceivable that as DST develops further, it will be applied more specifically to the relation of nature and nurture in a number of psychiatric disorders.

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