[SydPhil] HPS Research Seminar April 18th 2016 - Reminder

Debbie Castle debbie.castle at sydney.edu.au
Wed Apr 13 11:03:10 AEST 2016

Dear All

Next in the HPS Research Seminar Series

Dr Kate Lynch - Dept of Biological Sciences

Macquarie University


Behavioural and quantitative geneticists routinely employ the heritability statistic to make causal claims about the 'nature' and 'nurture' of a given trait. These studies investigate the relative effects of genetic and environmental differences on differences in a phenotype. The proportional effect on phenotype due to genetic variation is summarised in the heritability statistic (H2 or h2). Since Richard Lewontin's influential (1974) paper, there has been debate about the utility of the heritability statistic for making causal claims. Some, like Lewontin, argue that a more useful and informative approach to apportioning the causal responsibility of genetic and environmental variation is the norm of reaction (NOR). The NOR is a visual representation of individual genotypes in a population, and their phenotypic effects over various environments. Lewontin argues that the NOR is superior to the heritability statistic as it conveys causal information which H2 does not. But just how such information is conveyed and exactly what that information is remains underdeveloped. In line with Lewontin, I will argue that the NOR presents a deeper explanation about causal relationships between genotype, environment, and phenotype than the heritability statistic alone. I demonstrate this by appealing to the concepts 'stability' and 'invariance' outlined by Woodward (2003, 2010) under his interventionist framework for causation. These features can be used to distinguish causal relationships and assess their relative explanatory depth, and can be ascertained using an NOR and not a heritability statistic.

Monday 18th April 2016

4pm pre presentation refreshments - HPS Common Room,  3rd Floor Carslaw Building

5pm Presentation - CCANSEA Meeting Room , Madsen Building

All are very welcome.
Debbie Castle
Unit for History and Philosophy of Science
Room 389
Carslaw Building F07
T: 9351 4226
9AM TO 430PM

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