Liberals embrace the role of genetics in homosexuality, but aren’t so keen on it for other things, such as intelligence. Why?

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A study about the genetics of “nonheterosexualtiy” came out in Science yesterday [1]. Its main conclusion was completely unsurprising: the trait they were interested in — whether someone had ever, versus never, had sex with someone of the same sex — is partly heritable (we already knew that), and the underlying genetics is complicated (no one single “gay gene”) [2]. In other words, when it comes to genetics, this trait is like absolutely every other behavioral trait [3].

What’s unusual about this trait is that, whereas liberals don’t like to leave too much room for the role of biology in behavior in general (see e.g. Pinker’s Blank Slate), an exception is made for a handful of traits, most prominently homosexuality. A lead author of the study, Benjamin Neale, explains that a major motivation was generating evidence to use to fight for the equality of the LGBTQIA+ community (here). He quotes the motto of the founder of the first gay rights organization, Dr. Hirschfeld, “through science to…

In their verdict against Caster Semenya, the Court of Arbitration for Sports stated that the “binary division has not been challenged”. Its about time.

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“This is not the end of the conversation”. So said Caster Semenya’s team when it was announced that she would have to suppress her testosterone levels to compete in women’s events. Where should the conversation go from here? I outline the case for a multiple category system. Inspired by the Paralympics, the whole competitive sporting world should move towards having event categories. These categories should be designed to capture performance advantages people have as the result of their biology. The debacle that has engulfed Caster Semenya should be taken as an opportunity: the particular events that were under consideration in this case represent a great test bed. …

The genetic lottery hands us different advantages. Should these be competitively protected? We asked the public to see what they thought.

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The prospect of genetically modifying ourselves, or our future children, is no longer science fiction. In a field mired with controversy, the one thing all agree on is the urgent need to engage with “the public”. So, dear member of said public, what are your opinions on genetic modification of humans?

Consider the following, hypothetical, scenario:

Scientists have discovered Gene Z relates to success in long distance competitive running. Gene Z enables more oxygen to be carried in the blood. …

About

Anna Lewis

Bioethics, Genomics, and the Diversity of Human Experience

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