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Nature vs. Nurture

  1. May 26, 2004 #1
    So we had this debate in my Social Studies class today about nature vs. Nurture. The philosopher Jean Jaques Rosseua said the nature of humans is good, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes said that it is evil. Does it have to be one or the other? It depends on who you are and who you choose to be? It sounds like the old guys were making generalizations about everyone. Like nobodys life is worth anything because we're all messed up in the end. Pretty pathetic, eh?
    Eventually, it turned into an arguement about whether we really have free will. Some said we don't have choices because our nature is determined by our genes. Ridiculous? Does that mean we should not allow people with "murdurer genes" to live?
    Imagine that I smack my hand down onto my desk. Could James Watson have told you I was going to do that? No. He could have told you that I had a heriditary urge to smack tables, but the choice is mine whether to listen to these tendencies.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 26, 2004 #2
    This type of clash of good/evil nature of humans was represented in Les Miserables with the conflict over the classical French officials' reasoning (in this case Hobbes) and the conflict between a lowly ex-con who changed and became a successful mayor (who himself believed that humans should get a second chance).

    I dont have quite the experience to know whether humans are good or evil in nature, but I do know that they can be lazy. If an easier route can be taken (tools), humans generally take it.
  4. May 27, 2004 #3
    Your don't seem to understand the debate "Nature vs Nurture". In this terminology, nature=genes, and nurture=environment. The question is whether a who a person is is determined by genetics or environment. Of course, it is both. You might even say that genetics are a subset of environment.

    I don't believe in "we are basically good" or "we are basically bad". I don't see any objective way of making a dividing point. In addition, who a person is inevitably dependent on environment. Trying to separate the two will only result in failure or misunderstanding. I also don't see the point in making such a distinction, even if there could be any truth to such a statement.
  5. May 27, 2004 #4
    From everything that I have read, seen and experienced, Dan, while you have the argument right, it is the other way around. Genes play a much more important role in determining who and what we are, our likes and dislikes, even our occupational preferences than does environment. It is more like environment is a subset of genes.

    This is indicated by the remarkable similarities between the lives of identical twins separated at birth and raised apart. As far as my own experience goes my two children a girl and then a boy behaved completely differently from conception.

    I agree that environment does pay an important part in our make up it does not seem to be the most important part.
  6. May 27, 2004 #5
    Take two twins, raise one from infancy in a muslim family in Oman, and another raised in a christian family in the USA, and I can bet you that the two won't have the same religion as adults, which is a pretty important characteristic.
  7. May 27, 2004 #6
    So what's your point? Take a baby girl and raise her to be a boy and she will still be a girl, a messed up girl probably but still a girl. The studies done have shown that genes have much more to do with our behavior than previously thought and pretty much put to rest the nature-nurture controversy. I saw the last study done on PBS I don't know if it was Nova or not but probably not.
  8. May 27, 2004 #7
    Well, it started out as the nature vs nurture arguement, but some people insisted that that eliminates free will. I say our genes might be a able to tell our tendencies but never our choices. The "no free will" arguement sounds a bit to much like determinism for comfort.

    I have this little joke about people arguing that their actions are justified because they had no choice. Stupid guys.
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