There are obviously no solid answers to these questions yet, given the state of both the science and contemporary public policy, but my project is to begin to ask these questions now in the case that the science of epigenetics begins to make its way into the public policy domain.
Given this history, recent work being done in areas like epigenetics suggests that our political theories need to be updated even more substantially to reflect these more recent modifications of our understanding of the connections between each other and our environments.
This brief sketch of the fundamental challenges epigenetics poses to two of the most dominant ethical frameworks of modern liberalism is a good indication of the scope of the implications of epigenetics for modern liberalism in general, not only for the ethics, but also the politics and the jurisprudence of contemporary liberalism built on these same principles.
by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) (The following is a summary of a talk presented at the Center for East Asian and Comparative Philosophy on January 11, 2016. Copies of the full-length (draft) paper and the accompanying PowerPoint presentation are available here) Per the guiding model of my project: I propose that the emerging science of epigenetics invokes an openness and an … Continue reading The Immanent Self: Epigenetics, Modern Liberalism and Spinoza
As a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for East Asian and Comparative Philosophy, with the Department of Public Policy at the City University of Hong Kong, I worked on a project called Eastern and Western Conceptions of Oneness, Virtue, and Human Happiness, From the project home page: A number of East Asian thinkers, as well … Continue reading Epigenetics and the Concept of Oneness
by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) A forthcoming paper titled “Holocaust exposure induced intergenerational effects on FKBP5 methylation” by Rachel Yehuda and many others is sparking considerable debate about epigenetics, mostly—according to my Twitter feed, at least—as critiques of this paper. I do not have access to the Yehuda paper, and so I am unable to discuss the appropriateness … Continue reading Epigenetics and Adaptation: Ethics in Evolution
by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) While there is a growing acceptance of epigenetics, there is still a lot of skepticism from within conventional genetics about the claims emerging from epigenetics. The most common rejoinders against the significance of epigenetics are either that the findings of epigenetics are novel but inconsequential, or that epigenetics has always been an accepted … Continue reading Epigenetics and the geopolitical history of the 20th century
by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) In a previous paper I discuss at length the more immediate practical political implications of epigenetics via its impact on the two dominant causal narratives in obesity policy: the salience of individual responsibility versus the influence of environmental or institutional factors. In particular I detail how epigenetics complicates the alleged opposition of these two narratives by incorporating … Continue reading Epigenetics and Ideology
The scientific findings emerging from epigenetics have significant implications for policy, but the philosophical challenges presented by epigenetics are even more profound than just these practical policy implications. In particular, epigenetics challenges the very foundations upon which our contemporary ethics and politics are based. As the science from epigenetics is just now emerging as a challenge to many aspects of conventional genetics, the social and political effects of epigenetics are just now emerging as well. My project is to anticipate the nature of the ethical and political effects of epigenetics via the model presented below.
by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) In this post and others, the historical, cultural and philosophical underpinnings of the scientific assumptions of genetics are discussed. That the assumptions of genetics are contingent on these historical and philosophical precedents likely seems trivial to laypersons and nonsensical to geneticists. Genetics, as a product of modern science, exhibits the patina of scientific … Continue reading Epigenetics, ethics and the evolution of science