Biological Determinism Essay

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Question 8: What is meant by ‘biological determinism’? Biological determinism is the theory that everything is completely determined by a person’s genes. It denies the idea of the environment or surroundings affect a person’s behavior. This theory is on the nature side (genetics) of the nature vs. nurture (environment) debate. Charles Darwin and Francis Galton are the major psychologists that defend this theory. B.F Skinner and John Watson strongly oppose their theories and say that it is the exact opposite. Charles Darwin uses his theory of natural selection, which proposed that heritable characteristics that provide a survival or reproductive advantage are more likely to be passed on to subsequent generations and thus come to be selected over time, to prove that genetics control how a person behaves. Furthermore, Francis Galton, a relative of Darwin, stated that the class that you were born into was a genetic predisposition, and that you would not be able to rise from this standard. For example, if a lower class man and woman have a child then their child would not be able to rise form the lower class. The major experiments to prove biological determinism are Twin Studies. Psychologist separate twins at birth and then see how their behaviors are similar and claim that their biological predisposition or strong genetic component causes their behaviors to be similar and prove that genetics is the only factor that affects behavior and not the environment. On the other hand, B.F. Skinner, in his book “Beyond Freedom and Dignity”, stated that all behavior is fully governed by external stimuli and concluded that free will is an illusion. Also, John B. Watson argued that behavior is governed primarily by the environment. Both of these psychologists were behaviorist, who viewed psychology’s mission to relate responses to observable events in the environment. In
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