A Genetic Predisposition to Violence? – Not So Fast

Date:  Sunday, September 14, 2014
Speaker:  James Tabery

James Tabery is a philosopher at the University of Utah. His research explores how the science of genetics shapes the way humans think about themselves and others on issues ranging from disease and disability to free will and responsibility. His research has been reported nationally and internationally in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine, National Public Radio, Reuters, The Daily Mail, and China Newsweek.

Recent research reportedly identified a “genetic predisposition to violence”. In response, ethical and legal commentators on the study imagined all sorts of ways that this genetic information could be used to prevent violence, such as screening all newborns for the gene or screening embryos for the gene. Drawing on research from my new book, Beyond Versus: The Struggle to Understand the Interaction of Nature and Nurture, I’ll show how the very idea of a “genetic predisposition to violence” misrepresents the research in question, and how it has subsequently corrupted the ethical and legal discussions of using that genetic information to curb violence.

Speaker Suggested References and Resources:
Lisa Aspinwall, Teneille Brown, and James Tabery (2012), “The Double-Edged Sword: Does Biomechanism Increase or Decrease Judges’ Sentencing of Psychopaths?”, Science 337: 846-849.
Jessica Brooks-Crozier, (2011), “The Nature and Nurture of Violence”, Connecticut Law Review 44: 531-573.
Caspi, Avshalom, et al. (2002), “Role of Genotype in the Cycle of Violence in Maltreated Children”, Science 297: 851-854.
Savulescu, Julian (2001), “Why Genetic Testing for Genes for Criminality is Morally Required”, Princeton Journal of Bioethics 4: 79-97.
Tabery, James (2014), Beyond Versus: The Struggle to Understand the Interaction of Nature and Nurture. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press.
Wasserman, David (2004), “Is There Value in Identifying Individual Genetic Predispositions to Violence?”, Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics 32: 24-33.

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Genetic Predisposition to Violence? Not So Fast!

Date:  September 14, 2014
Speaker:  James Tabery

James Tabery is a philosopher at the University of Utah. His research explores how the science of genetics shapes the way humans think about themselves and others on issues ranging from disease and disability to free will and responsibility. His research has been reported nationally and internationally in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine, National Public Radio, Reuters, The Daily Mail, and China Newsweek.

Recent research reportedly identified a “genetic predisposition to violence”. In response, ethical and legal commentators on the study imagined all sorts of ways that this genetic information could be used to prevent violence, such as screening all newborns for the gene or screening embryos for the gene. Drawing on research from my new book, Beyond Versus: The Struggle to Understand the Interaction of Nature and Nurture, I’ll show how the very idea of a “genetic predisposition to violence” misrepresents the research in question, and how it has subsequently corrupted the ethical and legal discussions of using that genetic information to curb violence.