Can Science Resolve the Nature / Nurture Debate?
Can Science Resolve the Nature / Nurture Debate?
Following centuries of debate about "nature and nurture" the discovery of DNA established the idea that nature (genes) determines who we are, relegating nurture (environment) to icing on the cake.

Since the 1950s, the new science of epigenetics has demonstrated how cellular environments and certain experiences and behaviors influence gene expression at the molecular level, with significant implications for health and wellbeing. To the amazement of scientists, mapping the human genome indirectly supported these insights. Anthropologists Margaret Lock and Gisli Palsson outline vituperative arguments from Classical times about the relationship between nature and nurture, furthered today by epigenetic findings and the demonstration of a "reactive genome." The nature/nurture debate, they show, can never be put to rest, because these concepts are in constant flux in response to the new insights science continually offers.
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  • June 2016
  • 160 pages
  • 133 x 199 mm / 5 x 8 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $67.50
  • 9780745689968
  • Paperback $12.95
  • 9780745689975
  • Open eBook $8.99
  • 9780745690001
Table of Contents

Preamble: Beyond the Molecular Vision of Life

1. Moveable Concepts: Nature and Nurture

2. Promotion and Demotion of the Gene

3. Reinstating Nurture: From Opposition to Commingling

4. Accruing Biosocial Momentum

5. Biopolitics for the Future

About the Author
Margaret Lock is Marjorie Bronfman Professor Emerita in Social Studies of Medicine at McGill University

Gisli Palsson is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iceland
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"We know that nature and nurture are entwined, but we often overlook the fact that neither science nor the humanities alone can resolve the nature/nurture debate. This accessible and clever book introduces the reader to recent discoveries in epigenetics and shows how the new horizons and hopes opened up by this field entail new responsibilities and new types of vigilance."
Eva Jablonka, Tel Aviv University

"A cool appraisal of a turbulent field, this fine book exposes an unfolding saga of interdisciplinary dimensions. A radical shift is emerging in the conceptualization of the human body and its environment: the authors' state-of-the-art climax is a message for everyone."
Marilyn Strathern, Girton College, Cambridge

"Lock and Palsson reaffirm their critique of the dualistic thinking that has prevailed in the past two hundred years. The reader is left with the firm understanding that the biochemical promise of gene therapy is empty if it is not undertaken in tandem with measures to improve the nurturing role of the social and physical environment. [] It offers an all too brief but wonderful historical and contemporary overview of the nature/nurture debate from both perspectives and touches on some other interesting topics in the history of science."
Anthropological Forum
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