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Explain, with examples, what is meant by the genes debate

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Introduction

Explain, with examples, what is meant by the genes debate. Genes are units of hereditary information that tells the organism to produce a particular chemical, or to display a particular characteristic, e.g. blue eyes or brown hair. In this genes debate, genes are said to not only display these physical characteristics, but also determine our social behaviour (contrary from being a result of who we are from the way we are socialised). In the past, biological determinism has been used to justify racism, sexism and class inequalities. However, recent claims of biological determinism seem to be more outstanding and more scientific. The most well-known version of genetic determinism is sociobiology, advocated by E. O. Wilson. The theory is: "social behaviour is determined biologically through our genes, which are in turn the products of million years of evolution." Tiger, Fox and Wilson all argue that it is natural for males to be more aggressive and dominant than females. Although Wilson admits that men and women can choose to behave differently from those which he says are natural, but he says that if they do, they will cause society problems because they're going against what they're supposed to naturally do. ...read more.

Middle

But still, functionalists believe that humans are mainly the products of their social structures and the culture values they're socialised to accept. Also, feminists believe that inequality to women is the product of, again, social factors. Meanwhile, interactionists believe that characteristics or personalities are built from socialising (i.e. interacting) with other people since the day we're born. Finally, Marxists also believes that human characteristics such as greed and social inequalities are products of an exploitive, competitive capitalist system, and not because of biological factors. If we are all controlled by our genes, human behaviour would be almost the same in every part of the world. Furthermore, we would not change for a very long time because evolutionary changes take a long time. But, if we look at difference between the present and recent history, we see a huge difference in social behaviour and ways of organising society. For example, Margaret Ehrenberg quoted that most women in the past had far more status than recently, and probably had equality with men. Her justification was that it's women's economic role in any society that decides their status, not some biological inferiority. ...read more.

Conclusion

Contrary to Wilson's belief, even if human sexual behaviour is controlled by our genes, then females would also have the same rights to have children by different fathers as a safeguard against a partner having faulty or unhealthy genes. Of course, humans don't organise sex lives completely under gene-control. In comparing human behaviour to animal behaviour, sociobiologists are eager to identify male aggression and domination in the animal world because this would justify their theory. Therefore cooperation and gender equality particularly found in animals like bonobo chimpanzees are not traits which would be favoured by sociobiologists. Humans develop as social, cooperative, language-using toolmakers. It's unreasonable to assume that humans could be biologically or genetically determined for competitiveness and inequality. The conclusion is, there is much more to social behaviour and social structures than genetic determinism because evidence against genetic determinism is tremendous. What appears to be purely biological, such as disease, even has a social factor behind it (e.g. pollution). Perhaps there are other reasons why ideas of biological determinism persist. According to Rose, Lewontin, Kamin and Gould, biological determinism lets the government of the hook when social-related problems arise, because they would be able to blame the individual instead of on the way the society is supposed to be organised. ...read more.

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