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Abstract: Popular and scientific accounts of the U.S. Human Genome Project often express concern about the implications of the project for the philosophic question of free will and responsibility. However, on its standard construal within philosophy, the question of free will versus determinism poses no special problems in relation to genetic research. The paper identifies a variant version of the free will question, free will versus internal constraint, that might well pose a threat to notions of individual autonomy and virtue in connection with genetic research. Whether it does depends on the extent to which the genetic basis for behavior turns on behavioral incapacities
Abstract: I was led to this clarificatory job initially by some puzzlement from a philosopher's standpoint about just why free will questions should come up particularly in connection with the genome project, as opposed to the many other scientific research programs that presuppose determinism. The philosophic concept of determinism involves explanation of all events, including human action, by prior causal factors--so that whether or not human behavior has a genetic basis, it ultimately gets traced back to _something_ true of the world before our birth. The philosophic problem of free will and determinism arises because this seems to undercut moral responsibility: How can we reasonably be held responsible for something whose causes we couldn't control?
Abstract: There seems to be evidence of a genetic component in criminal behavior. It is widely agreed not to be "deterministic"--by which discussions outside philosophy seem to mean that by itself it is not sufficient to determine behavior. Environmental factors make a decisive difference--for that matter, there are nongenetic biological factors--in whether and how genetic
Abstract: We are discovering more and more about the human genotypes and about the connections between genotype and behaviour. Do these advances in genetic information threaten our free will? This paper offers a philosopher’s perspective on the question