Soc&Bio.08 - I. THE COMING BIOLOGICAL CHALLENGE TO...

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I. THE COMING BIOLOGICAL CHALLENGE TO SOCIAL THEORY AND PRACTICE Introduction Biology very much remains 'the other' of sociology. While this position is historically explicable, it is quickly becoming untenable. However, this does not mean that sociologists should turn into biologists. A sociology of biological knowledge readily shows that the two disciplines share more features than practitioners of either of them probably realize. Nevertheless, some recent attempts to bring biology and sociology closer together leave much to be desired, as they shortchange sociology's contribution. My own strategy for interdisciplinary rapprochement is twofold. First, insight can be gained by treating sociology and biology as fields that historically have come to be mutually alienated, despite a significant overlap in cognitive interests. Second, perhaps the most fruitful focus for future interaction between sociology and biology is over matters in which innovative conceptions of the human condition have forced a reconceptualization of politics. As it turns out, these challenges arise in a neoliberal ideological environment, which raises its own set of concerns, as epitomized by the phenomenon of 'bioprospecting'. I end by urging social theorists to resist the recent call to a 'Darwinian Left' and look instead toward a 'critical sense of sympathy' as the new basis for the social bond. http://www.unnu.com/unnu/archive/etexts/stevefuller_sociologyandsociobiology.htm
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II.   THE POTENTIAL RELEVANCES OF BIOLOGY TO SOCIAL INQUIRY Jeremy Freese, Jui-Chung Allen Li, and Lisa D. Wade Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706; email: jfreese@ssc.wisc.edu jli@ssc.wisc.edu lwade@ssc.wisc.edu Abstract: Sociologists often react with hostility to explanations that evoke biology, and some critics of the discipline contend that this "biophobia" undermines the credibility of sociology and makes it seem increasingly irrelevant in larger public debates. The negative reactions are many times diffuse and undiscerning of the different endeavors lumped together whenever one speaks broadly of biological (or "biosocial") explanations. We seek to introduce greater awareness of these distinctions with a review organized in terms of some of the distinct ways that the biological can be asserted to be relevant to the conduct of social inquiry. The review has three sections. First, we discuss assertions of the relevance of the human evolutionary past for understanding the character of human nature , for which evolutionary psychology currently receives the most attention. Second, we consider the work of behavioral genetics and the assertion of the relevance of genetic differences between persons for understanding differences in behaviors and outcomes. Third, we consider assertions of the relevance of particular proximate bioindicators for understanding how the biological and social interact,
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course STSS 1520 taught by Professor Salrestivo during the Spring '08 term at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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Soc&Bio.08 - I. THE COMING BIOLOGICAL CHALLENGE TO...

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