Search This Blog

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Nature, Nurture?

Thanks to recent breakthroughs in brain research and DNA technology, what has been until now a major controversy is no longer in serious dispute. As an example, brain research has identified a plethora of concrete indicators pointing to clear evidence of inherited indicators of many of the traits and tendencies that were previously concerned “learned” or somehow absorbed from the environment.
  “_ _ _ _ _ _ are made not born” (Fill in the blanks with virtually any qualification or acievement: “musical genius, star athlete, creative writer, painter, serial killer, drug addict etc.”) and you’d probably be wrong. As an example, a 40 year study of Korean war orphans adopted by American parents at the end of the Korean war, indicated quite clearly that the effects of “enlightened or ‘serious’ “ parenting by college educated upper middle class couples who adopted one of a pair of Korean infant twins, produced no better results than the other twin who was adopted by a couple without advanced education who were fairly “casual” or “hands-off” parents. It is clear from the Korean Orphan Study and most other research on the subject, that it is our genetic inheritance,   our DNA, that is the determining factor in potential success as a pro basketball player, a classical musician or composer , or sculptor. With the “wrong” DNA you might become a drug addict, a “gang banger” or a “serial killer” Your success will very much depend on the amount of time you devote to developing the skills you inherited, but without the necessary genetic predisposition, “practice, practice, practice” will not get you to
Carnegie Hall.
The implications of these findings has obvious effects in many areas, including philosophy, education and the law. In the area of moral philosophy, we are returning to a serious controversy that was raised by Calvin and became the foundation for the protestant sect that he founded. This was the concept of “predestination” the idea that from birth, your life and its outcome was already decided by God. Prayer, good works, sacrifice - nothing you do would change your destination. The successful merchants of early New England were obviously blessed by the almighty, the slaves they transported in their ships were not. So, perhaps Calvin and his followers were on the right track and those who questioned predestination were not.
Education? If a child is born without the intellectual equipment to indicate probable success in school, should the state spend funds on traditional academic training or should she be channeled into a vocational educational track?
The Law? 
If someone lacks the DNA that creates the synapses for moral judgement or conversely a predatory “killer instinct”, can we convict him of homicide if he kills. If the argument is “My genes made me do it” how can we incarcerate the perpetrator? Or execute the serial killer?
How should society deal with this truly revolutionary information? 
It could just ignore it and hope it would all go way
Accept some of the implications and “stonewall” those that conflict with our Judeo-Christian ethical system
Leave it all to individual choice and provide no official guidelines. 
Control reproduction by “ carriers of anti-social genes”
What do you think?

No comments: