Biology and Culture

Many commentators, slaves to political correctness and ignorant of science, believe that civic biology is stuck in 1925. When faced with an uncomfortable topic that touches on civics and biology (the fact that blacks make up a disproportionate share of murder victims, or the corollary that blacks make up a disproportionate share of murderers), these commentators immediately assume there are only two sorts of valid explanations

  • Disproportionate violence among blacks may be the result of culture
  • .

  • Disproportionate violence among blacks may be the result of race.

they immediately leap to culture-only explanations. Thus, from the Washington Post:

“Blacks in America are facing a unique gun culture,” Sugarmann said. “Blacks are disproportionately likely to be confronted with guns, and that leads to the results that we’re seeing.”

with of course no mention of race. However, there are other explanations. Biology can act a lot like culture, for instance…

Disproportionate violence among blacks may be the result of a stressful environment, including poor nutriotion and greater likelihood of witnesses violence as a child, which leads to biological changes that induce one to violence.

to the almost racial…

Disproportionate violence among blacks may be the result of the unique selection pressures extant throughout the American South until 1865, which explains why ‘African-American’ blacks, but not Afro-Carribean or African blacks in America.

To epigentic explanations, which are biologically heritable but not genetic…

Disproportionate violence among blacks may be the result of an ancestrally stressful environment that existed at least until the mid-twentieth century, and as such (maternal) cytoplasm regulates embriotic environment such violence becomes disproportionate among blacks.

There are many other explanations as well, including the viral, that may be true. My point is not to favor one explanation or the other. Rather, my point is to point out the politically correct scientific ignorance of the mainstream media sabotages any search for answers. To give just one possibility: if the Jim Crow laws still epigenetically harm African-Americans, an extremely good argument can be made for reparations.

But of course, the politically correct, scientifically ignorant, mainstream media does not bother.

After all, the victims (both in the narrow and extended sense) are only black.

(My thanks to Rob Patterson, a fellow blogger, for provoking this post.)

Adolescent Psychological Development, Inroduction: Rationality, Morality, and Identitty

I’ve fully read David Moshman’s Adolescent Psychological Development: Rationality, Morality, and Identity twice and went over it a third time. The first was as a required text in Adolescent Psychology, the second was to study for comps, and a third was for writing this series of reactions.


The Second Edition (2005)

Moshman’s book doubles both as a text on adolescent development and a philosophical exposition on “rational moral identity,” the fostering of which the author identifies as the primary purpose of education. Moshman uses the first three sections to define each of these concepts independently, and ties with together with a feeling of inevitable logic.

I disagree with the author’s purpose, and in several places try deconstruct some terms that he uses as near-synonyms (for example, rationality and rational agency) in order to throw doubt on “rational moral identity” and hold up an alternative. I have the pleasure of studying under this intellectual, and the free debate he encourages are a testament to himself, the department, and the university.

Adolescent Psychological Development, a tdaxp series
1. Cognitive Development
2. Moral Development
3. Identity Formation
4. Advanced Psychological Development
5. Bibliography