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Are we products of nature or nurture? Show more Show less
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There is a longstanding debate about what factors contribute to forming each human being's identity. Some argue that genes singlehandedly determine our identity, while others claim that our environment does so. Although psychologists regard some combination of these two factors (i.e. nature and nurture) as what shapes us, there is little consensus on the issue.

Nature and nurture are inseparable Show more Show less

Nature and nurture intertwine to weave the complex tapestry that is every human being.
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We are products of nature via nurture

Our nature is the blueprint for who we’ll be, but nurture is what builds that blueprint into a person. Depending on who builds the blueprint and how (our environment), many different kinds of people can come from just one blueprint (our genes).

Context

People are a summation of their habits, temperaments, and experiences. However, where do these things that determine our personality and behaviors come from? Psychology has long been debating whether they stem from our genes or our environment. Settling the debate will expand our currently limited understanding of human development.

The Argument

We are born with far more genetic potential than will ever become manifest. Our environment activates certain genes, ultimately determining which ones will affect us. (The study of this is called epigenetics.) The same genome will produce very different people depending on which of their genes are activated throughout their life.[1] Nature is the clay through which nurture molds us into people. [2] An example of this can be seen in determining who develops depression. There are some genes that make one more likely to develop it. However, those genes need something – like a life stressor – to be activated and cause depression. Otherwise, the genes will never be activated, and there will be no depression. However, people who don’t have those depression-prone genes and experience a life stressor are less likely to develop depression. Our genes determine our potentialities, but our environment determines which of those are made manifest. We can better understand how humanity as a whole, as well as individual people, are products of nature via nurture by looking to a scientist named Lamarck. He supported the theory of nature via nurture by arguing that people’s environments change their bodies. (i.e. genes)[3] He understood that gene expression was not predestined, but rather entirely dependent upon environmental influences. While our genes determine how we’ll react to things, it is the things we have to react to that create who we are at any given point in life.

Counter arguments

Both nature and nurture shape who are. However, nature is no more important than nurture. We have experiences from the time we have genes. They’re equally important, inextricably linked parts of what makes us who we are. Epigenetics is not the only determiner of who we are. Although our environment plays a role in our environment, our genes are often our real destiny. No amount of environmental perfection will prevent someone with a genetic mutation from developing the subsequent illness. Furthermore, we have some experiences that shape us that are completely separate from our genes – like which school we go to. Despite being linked, nature and nurture are distinct. Larmarck challenged Darwin in stating that we can pass on our epigenome – which is our environmentally-altered genome. Scientists currently debate this but lean towards agreeing it’s true. [3]However, this does not support the nature via nurture argument because once an epigenome is passed on to a child, it’s just their genome. It’s not determined by their environment like it was for their parents.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Both our genes and experiences determine who we are (i.e. nature and nurture.) [P2] We don't experience the effects of our genes unless our environment activates them. [P3] Genes determine potentialities, but the environment determines which ones are actualized.

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://footnote.co/epigenetics-reveals-how-environment-shapes-gene-expression/
  2. https://medium.com/awecademy/nurture-via-nurture-genes-experience-and-what-makes-us-human-a4659efd7b14
  3. https://behavioralscientist.org/the-end-of-nature-versus-nurture/
This page was last edited on Monday, 9 Nov 2020 at 21:26 UTC

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