Genetic reductionism

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Genetic reductionism is the belief that understanding genes is sufficient to understand all aspects of human behavior.[1] It is a specific form of reductionism and of biological determinism, based on a perspective which defines genes as distinct units of information with consistent properties.[2] It also covers attempts to define specific phenomena in exclusively genetic terms, as in the case of the "warrior gene".[3] The concept has been criticized by many biologists.[4] According to Affifi (2017), "With the discoveries of pleiotropy and epistasis, cracks in the reductionist paradigm emerged even before the rise of molecular biology, but the full extent of the interdependency and flexible adaptivity of the genome has really come to light in the past 10 years..."[5] However, the genetic reductionist perspective can be appropriate when used to identify changes in specific genetic loci that cause differences in a given phenotype.[6]


  1. ^ Hayes, Nicky; Stratton, Peter (2017-09-01). A Student's Dictionary of Psychology and Neuroscience. Routledge. p. 138. ISBN 9781351803199.
  2. ^ McAfee, Kathleen (2003-05-01). "Neoliberalism on the molecular scale. Economic and genetic reductionism in biotechnology battles". Geoforum. 34 (2): 203–219. doi:10.1016/S0016-7185(02)00089-1. ISSN 0016-7185.
  3. ^ Shanahan, Michael J.; Bauldry, Shawn; Freeman, Jason (September 2010). "Beyond Mendel's Ghost". Contexts. 9 (4): 34–39. doi:10.1525/ctx.2010.9.4.34.
  4. ^ Regenmortel, M. H. V. Van (2004). "Biological complexity emerges from the ashes of genetic reductionism". Journal of Molecular Recognition. 17 (3): 145–148. doi:10.1002/jmr.674. ISSN 1099-1352. PMID 15137021.
  5. ^ Affifi, Ramsey (2017-04-01). "Genetic Engineering and Human Mental Ecology: Interlocking Effects and Educational Considerations". Biosemiotics. 10 (1): 75–98. doi:10.1007/s12304-017-9286-7. ISSN 1875-1350. PMC 5437137. PMID 28596811.
  6. ^ Martin, Arnaud; Morizot, Baptiste; Orgogozo, Virginie (2015). "The differential view of genotype–phenotype relationships". Frontiers in Genetics. 6: 179. doi:10.3389/fgene.2015.00179. ISSN 1664-8021. PMC 4437230. PMID 26042146.