Behaving : What's Genetic, What's Not, and Why Should We Care?

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Behaving presents an overview of the recent history and methodology of behavioral genetics and psychiatric genetics, informed by a philosophical perspective. Kenneth F. Schaffner addresses a wide range of issues, including genetic reductionism and determinism, "free will," and quantitative and molecular genetics. The latter covers newer genome-wide association studies (GWAS) that have produced a paradigm shift in the subject, and generated the problem of "missing heritability." Schaffner also presents cases involving pro and con arguments for genetic testing for IQ and for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Schaffner examines the nature-nurture controversy and Developmental Systems Theory using C. elegans or "worm" studies as a test case, concluding that genes are special and provide powerful tools, including "deep homology," for investigating behavior. He offers a novel account of biological knowledge emphasizing the importance of models, mechanisms, pathways, and networks, which clarifies how partial reductions provide explanations of traits and disorders.
The book also includes examinations of personality genetics and of schizophrenia and its etiology, alongside interviews with prominent researchers in the area, and discusses debates about psychosis that led to changes in the DSM-5 in 2013. Schaffner concludes by discussing additional philosophical implications of the genetic analyses in the book, some major worries about "free will," and arguments pro and con about why genes and DNA are so special. Though genes are special, newer perspectives presented in this book will be needed for progress in behavioral genetics- perspectives that situate genes in complex multilevel prototypic pathways and networks. With a mix of optimism and pessimism about the state of the field and the subject, Schaffner's book will be of interest to scholars in the history and philosophy of science, medicine, and psychiatry.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 167 x 243 x 23mm | 584g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 24
  • 0195171403
  • 9780195171402
  • 1,534,805

Review quote

The philosophical considerations and history of ideas at the heart of this book offer valuable and illuminating context for readers of contemporary genetic studies of behavioral phenotypes. This is a thoughtful, multifaceted, and nuanced work. In sum, Schaffner offers a brilliantly written and useful volume for learning and teaching about behavior genetics, its assumptions, methods, and findings. * Dr. Susan Trumbetta, PsycCRITIQUES * human behavior genetically determined? Few people have been thinking about that question for as long, or with as much devotion to the scientific facts and philosophical subtleties, as the philosopher of science, Kenneth Schaffner. In his magisterial, wise, and succinct new book, Behaving, he disentangles its two separate but related components...Schaffner provides a balanced account while never losing sight of what has been and will be achieved by
using genetics to explain medical, behavioral, and psychiatric traits - especially if integrated with insights at myriad other levels of analysis, from the genetic and neuronal to the psychological and social. * Erik Parens for * a thorough, in-depth discussion of contemporary scientific inquiry into behavior and the philosophical implications of recent discoveries in the field. * William Simkulet, Metapsychology Online Reviews *
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About Kenneth F. Schaffner

Kenneth F. Schaffner (Ph.D., Columbia, 1967; M.D., University of Pittsburgh, 1986) is Distinguished University Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. His research on the foundations and methodology of behavioral and psychiatric genetics has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation.
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