The Political Scientist Essay Research Paper The — страница 4

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deeply scientific approach to all problems with his capacity for feeling and expressing himself in simple and direct terms”. But, Rose says, he himself was never particularly “Sovietophile”. He always employed researchers from eastern Europe – no more reliable way of ensuring that his lab was full of anti-communists. The memory of such contortions – for Stalin had murdered every honest geneticist in the Soviet Union – does something to explain the bitterness of the controversies into which the Roses were drawn in the 70s and later. These started with the notion, popularised by Hans Eysenck, that IQ tests measure an independently existing general intelligence, of the sort that separates us from animals; and that this quality is largely, measurably, determined by our

genes. From that it would follow that there might be IQ differences between different races or classes; and, if there are, there is a limited amount that governments can do to bring about equality between races and classes. As part of a general assault on what he called “genetic determinism”, Rose attacked every aspect of this argument, which seemed to him bad science in the service of bad politics. Even today, when he concedes that IQ tests may be quite useful as a way of measuring test-passing abilities, he maintains they are useless as a measure of general intelligence. Patrick Bateson, who thinks Rose overstated the case against the tests, says: “The resistance to the notion that IQ might mean anything was partly based on another strongly held instinct on Steven’s

part, namely that nothing is wholly dependent on biological makeup. This led him into a position of attacking the tests at exactly the time when they were being quite widely accepted.” But the IQ tests were merely a warm-up for his major controversial struggle, against the whole complex of ideas – “Darwinian” if you believe in them, “ultra-Darwinian” or “Darwinian fundamentalism” if you don’t – represented by Richard Dawkins and Helena Cronin in this country, and EO Wilson, Daniel Dennett, and Steven Pinker in the US. Rose, along with his American friends Steven Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin, has fought a tireless polemical war against the claim that a Darwinian analysis has much to tell us about human nature or the organisation of society. This claim has

gone by various names over the years; nowadays it is mostly known as evolutionary psychology: in the 70s, an earlier version was known, after EO Wilson’s book, as sociobiology. Over the years, the level of abuse has toned down – though two years ago Rose used the threat of a libel suit to force the obliteration of a speech bubble in a comic book on “Evolutionary Psychology for beginners” which he felt put stupid words into his mouth. But the underlying principle of his attacks has always been the same: that social causes are more important and interesting in human affairs than biological ones. Originally the complaint against sociobiologists was that they were all either right-wingers or dupes of the right. This wasn’t fair or true at the time – unless you take

everyone who disagrees with you politically to be a dupe of the right. Now, Rose says that part of the problem of evolutionary psychology as a programme is that it can be used to support any political position: the philosopher Peter Singer speaks of a “Darwinian left” and so, sometimes, does Helena Cronin. The clearest statement of Rose’s views, stripped of explicit politics, came when he argued against genetic determinism before an audience of invited scientists. He said, ironically paraphrasing the views of his opponents: “In a political environment… which has largely despaired of finding social solutions to social problems, apparently scientific assertions become magnified by press and politicians. Sexual orientation, mental distress or violence on city streets are

scarcely minor concerns. If the causes of our pleasures and our pains, our virtues and our vices, lie predominantly within the biological realm, then it is to neurogenetics that we should look for explanation, and to pharmacology and molecular engineering that we should turn for solutions.” Of course he believes that the causes of these miseries are not predominantly biological, and that you can’t solve unemployment with gene therapy or targeted drugs. But many of his enemies would agree with him about the limits of present-day scientific knowledge. To have found genes associated with language skills, or homo- sexuality, or schizophrenia, is not the same as finding genes which cause language, homosexuality or schizophrenia. In the simplest and most-studied animal known to