A philosophical study of heritability
- Authors: Mncube, Zinhle
- Date: 2016
- Subjects: Nature and nurture , Behavior genetics , Genetic psychology , Environmental psychology
- Language: English
- Type: Masters (Thesis)
- Identifier: http://hdl.handle.net/10210/227052 , uj:22970
- Description: M.A. (Philosophy) , Abstract: The purpose of my dissertation is to ask the question, what non-statistical reality underlies heritability claims? But in order to ask this question, I must deal with the prior question – does it ever make sense to causally interpret heritability claims? The consensus answer to this question is “no”. Firstly, I argue that is possible to reply to each of the main lines of argument used to establish that heritability estimates are causally uninterpretable – (i) the existence of gene-environment interaction, (ii) the existence of G-E correlation, and (iii) the locality of heritability estimates. Therefore the consensus that “heritability estimates are devoid of causal implications” (Sesardic, 2005:10) is too quick. Specifically, (a) when there is no statistical gene-environment interaction (Sesardic, 2005; Tal, 2009, 2012), (b) when there is small to no geneenvironment correlation (Tal, 2009, 2012), and (c) within the domain of populations that have similar causally salient features, it makes sense to causally interpret a heritability estimate as a measure of the causal strength of differences in genes on total phenotypic variance. Secondly, when a heritability estimate is correctly used to express a causal fact, I argue that it suffers from the same problem that other measures of strength of association suffer from – the causal interpretation problem (or CIP). That is, when we say that heritability is a “measure of the proportion of the variance in a particular trait in a particular population that is attributed with genetic variation in that population” (Kaplan, 2006:56), the mathematics does not tell us how to interpret “attributable to/with”. Viewed in this light, the epistemological problem about heritability analysis...
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Barriers in the teaching and learning of evolutionary biology amongst Muslim teachers and learners in South African Muslim schools
- Authors: Yalvac, Gurtug
- Date: 2012-06-07
- Subjects: Evolution , Behavior genetics , Evolution (Biology) , Evolution (Biology) Study and teaching , Muslims Education (Secondary) South Africa.
- Type: Mini-Dissertation
- Identifier: uj:8705 , http://hdl.handle.net/10210/5058
- Description: M.Ed. , In this study, using qualitative research methods, I aimed to explore the acceptance of evolutionary theory among Muslim teachers and learners in South African Muslim Schools. Evolution, as part of the Life Sciences curriculum, was introduced to South African schools in 2008. It constitutes 25% of the Grade 12 Life Sciences content, and is also included in Grades 10 and 11. Evolution places a high premium on higher-order thinking skills, and educationists (Dempster, 2006) often view evolutionary biology as the ‗golden thread‘ running through the subject. For this reason the learning of evolutionary biology in FET Life Sciences is seen as an important gateway to tertiary studies, especially in the Science and Medicine faculties. As happened in different parts of the world, South African parents, teachers and learners often reject the idea of evolution from a religious point of view. Teacher and learner interviews in four different Muslim schools in Gauteng, South Africa are the core structure of this research. Learners were interviewed before and after they learnt evolution. Teachers are generally against teaching evolution but they teach their learners for the sake of university placement. The teaching and learning of evolution asks for radical conceptual change for those who have not encountered it before, since evolution and natural selection are often seen to be in direct conflict with some religious beliefs. I concur with authors who argue that conceptual change research too often uses a rational, cognitive and ―cold‖ lens, not giving due recognition to motivational, social and historical factors that can be enable or obstruct conceptual change- the so-called ―hot‖ or ―irrational‖ factors. I will focus on the issue of teacher conceptual change in this study. The teaching of evolution does not have much influence on the belief of Muslim learners, however they are against it but they study the content of evolution to the best of their ability in order to obtain good marks in the examination. This research is framed in a qualitative paradigm, and I have decided to use the Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) as a lens in my study. CHAT is considered a good conceptual framework, as it is a barometer for tensions in an activity system (in this case, the schools in which I have done the research), and it highlighted the ―hot‖ factors that authors such as Pintrich et al. (1993) feel are missing in conceptual change research. If we aim in Life Sciences to get to a point where all teachers and learners accept the science of evolution, we may have a lost case, and we may be shouting against the thunder, based on the data of this study.
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