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Genetic Differences and Human Identities

Genetic Differences and Human Identities



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Published by The Hastings Center
This four-part report aims to help readers understand what geneticists believe they have discovered about how genetic differences are related to observed, or "phenotypic," differences. It also helps readers contemplate what those findings might mean for how we think about who we are.
This four-part report aims to help readers understand what geneticists believe they have discovered about how genetic differences are related to observed, or "phenotypic," differences. It also helps readers contemplate what those findings might mean for how we think about who we are.

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Published by: The Hastings Center on Feb 27, 2010
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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On Why Talking aboutBehavioral GeneticsIs Important and Difficult
 A R E N S
Genetic Differencesand Human Identities
 A R E N S
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
On Why Talking aboutBehavioral GeneticsIs Important and Difficult
Genetic Differencesand Human Identities
his report is one product of a large project un-dertaken by The Hastings Center and the Amer-ican Association for the Advancement of Sci-ence and funded by the Ethical, Legal, and Social Im-plications division of the National Human GenomeResearch Institute. Mark Frankel and Audrey Chap-man (from AAAS) and I worked from the very begin-ning to develop the project and submit the grant ap-plication to NHGRI. From The Hastings Center, ErikaBlacksher, Mark Hanson, and Ashby Sharpe also par-ticipated in these early discussions. We could nothave completed the grant application, much less theproject, without the tireless, erudite, and wise adviceof V. Elving Anderson, professor emeritus of geneticsat the University of Minnesota. All of us who partici-pated in this project owe Elving a great debt of grati-tude.Once the grant was under way, Audrey, Mark, Elv-ing and I were joined by Catherine Baker and NancyPress to form a steering committee that shared theresponsibility for making all of the decisions relevantto the project, from setting meeting agendas to iden-tifying background readings, holding a public meet-ing in Washington, D.C., and creating a primer of be-havioral genetics, a book of essays, and this report.Working with Nancy, Cathy, Audrey, Mark, and Elvingwas a pleasure and an honor.The steering committee was part of a larger work-ing group, whose members are listed on the facingpage. On some topics, additional help was providedby consultants: Greg Carey (University of Colorado),Celeste Condit (University of Georgia), Carl Elliott(University of Minnesota), Elliot Gershon (Universityof Chicago), John Holmfeld (Science Policy Re-search), Steven E. Hyman (Harvard University), KayRedfield Jamison (Johns Hopkins University), TobyJayaratne (University of Michigan), Robert F. Krueger(University of Minnesota), Karen Lebacqz (PacificSchool of Religion), John Loehlin (University ofTexas), David Lubinski (Vanderbilt University),Jonathan Marks (University of North Carolina at Char-lotte), Matt McGue (University of Minnesota), SueLevi-Pearl (Tourette Syndrome Association), Jo C.Phelan (Columbia University), John Rice (WashingtonUniversity), Janice Robinson (Grace EpiscopalChurch), Margo Smith (Depression and Related Af- fective Disorders Association), Eric Turkheimer (Uni-versity of Virginia), and Irwin Waldman (Emory Uni-versity).We were joined at one of our working groupmeetings by members of the United Kingdom’sNuffield Council, which has explored similar ques-tions: Tom Baldwin, Martin Bobrow, Tor Lezmore,Yvonne Melia, Paul Pharoah, Martin Richards, andSandy Thomas.Administering such a complicated grant isn’t al-ways easy. My colleagues and I are deeply gratefulto Joy Boyer at the ELSI office for her alwaysthoughtful, kind, and patient support of our work.Over the years of the project we benefited fromthe logistical support of Kevin Alleman, Rachel Gray,and Sharon Leu at AAAS and from the research as-sistance of Michael Khair, Alissa Lyon, SamanthaStokes, Marguerite Strobel, and Denise Wong at TheHastings Center. We also benefited from the large ef- forts of Vicki Peyton, Jodi Fernandes, and Mary AnnHasbrouck at the Center, whose work made our pro- ject meetings both productive and pleasant.Thanks to Jaime Bishop and Eric Trump for theirwork in the office of the
 Hastings Center Report
.Thanks also to the
’s art director, Nora Porter, for carefully reading and then creatively presentingthis report. Gregory Kaebnick, editor of the
,edited this special supplement not only for style, butalso for content. It is wonderful to work with such atalented philosopher and wordsmith.In addition to Greg, several other people read theentire manuscript and made extensive comments:Elving Anderson, Troy Duster, Len Fleck, Irv Gottes-man, Bruce Jennings, Nancy Press, and DavidWasserman.Finally, I want to thank Ken Schaffner, who notonly possesses extraordinary scientific knowledgeand philosophical understanding, but the generosityand patience to share it.So this report is truly the result of a large groupeffort. Even such a distinguished list of colleagues,however, could not save me from all errors of factand interpretation. In the end, responsibility for theerrors that remain is mine.
 January-February 2004 / HASTINGSCENTERREPORT
On the cover:
 Awakening Woman,
by Paul Klee. ©ARS, NYPhoto: © Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz/Art Resource
V. Elving Anderson
Professor Emeritus, Genetics andCell BiologyUniversity of MinnesotaInstitute of Human GeneticsDivision of Epidemiology
Catherine Baker
Writer/EditorPlain Language Communications
Jonathan Beckwith
American Cancer Society Professor ofMicrobiology and Molecular GeneticsHarvard Medical School
Dan W. Brock
Professor of Social MedicineDirector of the Division of Medical EthicsHarvard Medical School
Audrey R. Chapman
Director, Science and Human RightsSenior Associate for Ethics, Dialogue onScience, Ethics, and ReligionAmerican Association for the Advancementof Science
Troy Duster
Professor of SociologyNew York University
Harold Edgar
Julius Silver Professor of Law, Science andTechnologyColumbia University School of Law
Lee Ehrman
Distinguished Professor of BiologyState University of New York
Marcus Feldman
Professor of Biology SciencesDepartment of Biological SciencesStanford University
Leonard Fleck
Professor, Philosophy and Medical EthicsMichigan State University
Mark Frankel
Director, Scientific Freedom, Responsibilityand Law ProgramAmerican Association for the Advancementof Science
Irving Gottesman
Bernstein Professor in Adult PsychiatrySenior Fellow in PsychologyUniversity of Minnesota
Bruce Jennings
Senior Research ScholarThe Hastings Center
Gregory E. Kaebnick
Editor, Hastings Center ReportAssociate for Philosophical StudiesThe Hastings Center
Patricia King
Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law,Medicine, Ethics and Public PolicyGeorgetown University Law Center
 Yvette Miller
Chief Medical OfficerArizona Region Blood ServiceAmerican Red Cross
Thomas Murray
PresidentThe Hastings Center
Erik Parens
Senior Research ScholarThe Hastings Center
Karen Porter
Executive DirectorCenter Health Law and PolicyBrooklyn Law School
Nancy Press
ProfessorSchool of Nursing and MedicineOregon Health & Science University
Kenneth F. Schaffner
University Professor of Medical HumanitiesProfessor of PhilosophyGeorge Washington University
Robert Wachbroit
Research ScholarInstitute for Philosophy and Public PolicyUniversity of Maryland
Rick Weiss
Science Reporter
The Washington Post 
SPECIALSUPPLEMENT / Genetic Differences and Human Identities: On Why Talking about Behavioral Genetics Is Important and Difficult
Project Working Group Members

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Very enjoyable article! Thank you! I'll quote you on this below if you don't mind! Brilliant! "And if there were a gene for intelligence, then perhaps we could give everybody more of it and we could stop ask- ing annoyingly difficult questions like, Whatis intelligence?"
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