UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA NSUKKA
FACULTY OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
DEPARTMENT OF PHILOSOPHY
ENVIRONMENTAL AND GENETIC DETERMINISM OF HUMAN SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
A TERM PAPER SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENT FOR THE COURSE: PHIL 346 (PHILOSOPHY OF DEVELOPMENT II)
UGWU EMMANUEL IKENNA
Environmental and genetic determinism of human socio-economic development
Dedicated to all underdeveloped nations whose citizens are still suffering from the harsh reality of socioeconomic development.
First and foremost, I acknowledge in a special way the Almighty God who kept me alive to see this day and accomplish this laudable project of carrying out this research. Also in a special way, I appreciate the effort of my lecturer Mr. Odo, who has painstakingly left no stone unturned in his quest to instill the virtue of excellence in us. My appreciation also goes to my mother, my brothers and my one and only sister for the unquantifiable role they have played and which they are still playing in my life. I also appreciate my roommates for their help in providing various books that provided the needed background information on this research topic.
May the almighty god grant all of you your heart desires in a special way, in Jesus name, Amen
The issue of socio-economic development has been at the limelight for so many centuries. The question to the cause of the over wealthy of some nations and abject poverty of other nations has continued to puzzle man and has become a perennial question that seems to have defiled any rational explanation.
Based on this, so many theorists from different works of life have propounded different ideas and theories to what actually determines man socioeconomic development. It is on this idea that this work surface to make a clear and distinct clarification on environmental and genetic determinants of human development as both combine to make man whatever he is in life.
Chapter one of this work contains the introduction of the research problem and a brief explanation of what the work is all about. It also gave us comprehensive and mind-blowing definitions of the core concepts in this work.
Chapter two went deeper to explain the meaning of the phrases environmental determinism and genetic determinism as well as their various sub-divisions. The detailed and elaborate explanation of these phrases was done in this chapter.
Chapter three discourses the influence of environmental and genetic make up of the individual on the individuals socioeconomic development on one hand, and the influence of environmental and genetic make up of the individual on the socioeconomic development of the society in general. This is necessary due to the fact that development is at two levels, at the individual level and at the societal level. Both goes hand in hand and influence the other.
Chapter four with salient point and clear analysis, summarizes, concludes, and gave a pragmatic solutions to the problems discover at the course of this research. These made this work a master piece and an academic treasure.
Table of content
Table of content
1.1 Definition of terms
1.1.2 Environmental determinism
1.1.3 Genetic determinism
1.1.4 Socioeconomic development
Environmental and genetic determinism
2.1 Environmental determinism
2.1.1 Cultural determinism
2.1.2 Geographical determinism
2.2 Genetic determinism
3.0 Genetic and environmental influence on human socio-economic development
Genetic and environmental influence on individual development
Genetic and environmental influence on socio-economic development of the society
Development encompasses every aspect of human life. Whether spiritual, physical, economical, political, social, individual or societal, development remains an unavoidable aspect of man. Development is a right, it is a human right to develop and anybody or anything that attempt to tamper with human development is a nuisance to man and the society. The order to development was initiated by God himself who through his biblical injunction ordered man to create, multiply and subdue the earth. Hence forth, man has been striving to develop himself and the society. Development is a purposeful change or intentional process of bringing improvement on the standard of living of people. It denotes positivity and it is targeted towards human survival. That is to say, development is human-centered and it is worth asserting here that it is all encompassing since it permeates every aspect of human living. Due to the multidimensional nature of development there are no water-tight classifications or kinds. There are innumerable factors that affect or determine the rate of development both at the individual and group (society) levels. More of them exist to hamper human development. These determinants of human socioeconomic development are what has been a source of debate among scholar from different fields of life.
Based on this, it is worthwhile for us to examine these positions held by various scholars. Some argue in support of environmental determinism, while some argue in support of genetic determinism; both are the major types of determinism on which or sub divisions of determinisms are based. Moreover, later scientific enquiries have maintained that none of them has an overall influence on the development of man. They both come together to determine mans’ general development. We therefore have to go into detail to examine the influences of these determinants on human socioeconomic development.
1.1 DEFINITION OF TERMS
The term determinism can be defined as the doctrine that all events, including human actions, are ultimately determined by causes regarded as external to the will. Some philosophers have taken determinism to imply that individual human beings have no free will and cannot be held morally responsible for their actions. The Standard Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2010) defined determinism as the idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the law of nature. It maintained that determinism is deeply connected with our understanding of the physical sciences and their explanatory ambitions, on the one hand, and with our views about human free action on the other hand.
1.1.2 ENVIRONMENTAL DETERMINISM
According to David correia (1981), environmental determinism is the theory that the physical environment, including climate, culture, etc, sets hard limits on human society. The proponents of this theory argue that we can look to patterns of environmental changes or geographical differences as a way to understand trajectories of human and social development and, by so doing, explain why some societies flourish while others languish in poverty or even collapse. For Dick Peet, environmental determinism is not rigorous scholarship but rather, the ideology of an imperial capitalism. Its proponents found success as the willing tools of empire happily explaining away the poverty and misery of imperialism as a function of natural processes. Cold northern climates produces hardly and thrifty people who therefore flourish. Mean while, the unrelenting heat along equator produces lazy people condemned to forever languish in patterns of poverty a predictable a the wind. Based on this, Blame Saches, repackaged old-fashioned environmental determinism as the ecology of underdevelopment. As he wrote in a 1999 article in The Economist, if it were true that the poor were just like the rich but with less money, the global situation would be vastly easier that it is. As it happens, the poor live in different ecological zones, face different health conditions and must overcome agronomic limitations that are very different from those of rich countries. Those differences, indeed, are often a fundamental cause of persisting poverty. He also maintained that the redistribution of wealth wont resolve global inequality because the geographical and unequal distribution of affluence and poverty is not a result of unequal power relations but rather is a function of complex geographical climatic dynamics that have nothing whatsoever to do with histories of colonial conquest and capitalist expansion. Environmental determinism in summary is therefore the belief that the physical environment affects socio-cultural and economic development.
According to S. A. Zander, etal, (1994) Genetics is the study of the inheritance of characteristics from organism to organism and the mechanisms of gene function that specify these characteristics. A wide spectrum of specializations is included in this definition. At one end of the spectrum, molecular geneticists study how mutations — alterations in the nucleotide sequence in the DNA — alter the gene expression and hence physical characteristics; at the other end, population geneticists study how genes are conserved or lost in large groups of organisms and how new species arise. Current areas of activity in genetic research include the study of specific genes, using cloning techniques to determine the products and their control; the ways in which genes are put together into chromosomal arrays and the mechanisms by which chromosomes are distributed between daughter cells; inherited metabolic diseases of human beings and animals; the roles of particular genes in the development of fertilized eggs into adult plants and animals; damage to genetic material caused by environmental hazards; and the production of new, useful forms of life by genetic engineering. Development is the study of the growth and differentiation of an organism from fertilized egg to adult; this growth and differentiation is often caused by the differential expression of particular genes, and their study is the genetics of development. Any and all of the methods of molecular and cell biology are likely to play important roles in the section’s research and teaching. It is because of the overwhelming influence of gene on development in general that there exist different biological, social, ethical, and legal issues concerning new reproductive strategies, augenics, genetic counseling, genetic screening, genetic effects of substance abuse, genetics and behavior, therapy for specific genetic diseases. Because of this overwhelming role, all genetic diseases are of interest as far as basic biomolecular information is concerned.
1.1.4 SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.
This is the process of social and economic development in the society. Socio-economic development is measured with indicators such as GDP, life expectancy, literacy and levels of employment. Causes of socio-economic impacts are for example, new technologies, changes in laws, changes in physical environment and ecological changes. Social development attempts to explain qualitative changes in the structure and framework of society, which help the society to better realize its aims and objectives. Development can be defined in a manner applicable to all societies at all historical periods as an upward ascending movement featuring greater levels of energy, efficiency, quality, productivity, complexity, comprehension, creativity, mastery, enjoyment and accomplishment.
Development is a process of social change, not merely a set of policies and programs instituted for some specific results.
ENVIRONMENTAL AND GENETIC DETERMINISM
Environmental determinism, also known as climatic determinism or geographical determinism, is the belief that physical environment predisposes human social development towards particular trajectories. A nineteenth- and early twentieth-century approach to the study of geography argued that the general laws sought by human geographers could be found in the physical sciences. Geography, therefore, became focused on the study of how the physical environment affected, or even caused, human culture and activities. At the time that this field was expanding it’s knowledge, practices and theories, it allowed for geographers to create “scientific justification for the supremacy of white European races and the naturalness of imperialism”. A prominent member in the study of environmental determinism, Ellen Churchill Semple, chose to apply her theories in a case study which focused on the Philippines, where she, “sought to map the distributions of ‘Wild’, ‘Civilized’ and ‘Negrito’ peoples on the topography of the islands”. From Semple’s works, other members within the field of study were able to find reasonable evidence to suggest that, “the climate and topography of a given environment” would cause specific character traits to appear in a given population, “leading geographers to feel confident on pronouncing on the racial characteristics of given populations.” The use of environmental determinism allowed for states to rationalize colonization, by claiming that the peoples within the given land were “morally inferior”, therefore legitimizing exploitation. Consequently, the use of this theory in explaining, rationalizing and legitimizing racism, ethnocentrism and development, has been strongly criticized, and in recent years, has become mostly obsolete. According to Daniel A. Hackman, etal (2010), Abstract/Human brain development occurs within a socioeconomic context and childhood socioeconomic status influences neural development particularly of the systems that sub serve language and executive function. Research in humans and in animal models has implicated prenatal factors, parentchild interactions and cognitive stimulation in the home environment in the effects of socioeconomic status on neural development. These findings provide a unique opportunity for understanding how environmental factors can lead to individual differences in brain development, and for improving the programmes and policies that are designed to alleviate socioeconomic status related disparities in mental health and academic achievement. When economists think of human capital, they often mean education. A large body of literature has established that investments in education pay off in the form of higher future earnings, and that on average; differences in education can explain a significant fraction of the variation in wages and incomes among adults, as well as variation in many other positive outcomes, such as socioeconomic development of the individual and the society. But what determines a childs educational success? Most studies, beginning with Coleman (1966) point to family background as the number one factor. This raises, however, a an original problem of the causes of these individual development disparities, in essence, this can be traceable to our various environments. We know that more education leads to higher income, and that children in higher income families are likely to get more education than other children.
The theory of environmental determinism as human developments sole contributor has mostly been abandoned. However, it did play a large role in geographic history and helped us understand that the environment sets certain limitations that can affect a culture. Cultural determinism is a specie of environmental determinism which places emphasis on the cultural determinants or influence on socio-economic development of the human society.
The relative influence of geographical, cultural, and institutional factors, human capital formation, ethnic, linguistic, and religious fractionalization, colonialism, and globalization has been at the center of the debate regarding the origins of the remarkable transformation of the world income distribution over the past two centuries. The significance of sociocultural factors in giving rise to the differential development trajectories of Europe and Asia has been the focus of an incentive hypothesis originally raised by Max Weber, in his works on the Sociology of religion (Weber,1905,1922), and promoted more recently by Hall(1986), Lal(1998), Landes(1998,2006), and others. Implicitly, the central premise of the cultural hypothesis is that societal norms, customs, and ethics can be ranked in terms of their ability to nurture technological innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit of capitalist development. The Weberian view point therefore places the proclivity of European culture towards rationalism and the objective disenchantment of the world at the forefront in explaining the rise of industry in the Western world. Moreover, the emphasis placed by Oriental culture on rigid aesthetic values of self perfection and piety is held responsible for the delayed transition from Malthusian stagnation to a sustained growth regime in the East and not their genetic make ups. The universal force of cultural assimilation, working to acculturate the divergent attitudes in society towards its customs and traditions, whatever these may be, leads to greater cohesion and social order overtime, which enables society to function closer to the production-possibility Frontier of the existing technological paradigm.
Geographical determinism just like cultural determinism is an offspring of environmental determinism which posits that the human habits and characteristics of a particular culture are shaped by their geographical or climatic conditions. The theory has grown to encompass all environmental and geographical conditions and their impact on the social, political, and economic forces of a society. Some scholars see technology as the only way to mitigate the risks associated with geographical determinism. For instance, Japan was able to survive because of their genetic make up and not necessarily on their geography. This is because they have no natural resources, and their climatic condition is one of the worst in the world. Their country is mostly covered by see, and they have a little area of land to build on, yet, they are one of the most economically developed and technologically advanced in the world. The same thing is also applicable to the State of Israel.
The role of favorable geographical conditions in fostering the earlier European take-off from Malthusian stagnation has been given precedence by Jones (1981), Diamond (1997), Pomeranz (2000), and others. They argued that the earlier rise of Europe could be attributed to its favorable natural resource base, abundant rainfall, temperate climate, lower disease burden, and its geographical proximity to the New World, which facilitated the escape from the Malthusian trap via the alleviation of land constraints. The geographical hypothesis has also stressed an indirect role of geography in promoting the earlier European take-off. It has been argued, particularly by Jones (1981), that the natural barriers created by Europe’s mountain chains and rivers prevented a single state from politically dominating the entire territory, which eventually led to sociopolitical fragmentation and competition, there by encouraging innovative activities that contributed to an earlier take-off. The element of geographical determinism in the proposed theory is distinct from that raised in the literature regarding the direct effects of natural resources endowments (i.e., the influence of climate, rainfall, disease burden, etc.). Specifically, the proposed theory attributes differences in the frequency with which the force of cultural assimilation is hampered to variation in natural characteristics that determine geographical isolation and, hence, the likelihood of emergence of new attitudes and ideas within societies via cultural diffusion. Moreover, in contrast to the hypothesis of Jones (1981), where natural barriers within Europe served to delineate societies that competed with each other in a process that stimulated innovation and development for the region as a whole.
Genetic determinism is the mechanism by which genes along with environmental conditions, determines morphological and behavioural phenotypes which determines the overall socio-economic development of the individual and the society. The term in its narrow sense is applied to the unscientific belief that genes determine, to the exclusion of environmental influence, how an organism turns out. This argument or view originated as a result of the debate to whether mans nature is determined by nature or nurture. It is know as nature-nurture controversy.
According to Waddington (1957) it is of course a truism which has long been recognized that the development of any individual is affected both by hereditary determinants which come into the fertilized egg from the two parents and also by the nature of the development in which the development takes place.
Following the rediscovery of Mendels principles of genetics, several theorists have contributed to the synthesis of Mendel and Darwins concept of natural selection. Genetic information both reflects a species descent and directs an organisms development. Despite surprises in the biological sciences about the quantity and distribution of genes, genetic determinism remains the standard model of studying human development in the biological sciences.
Genotype and phenotype are the two sub-divisions of genetic determinism and will be treated separately for the sake of clarity.
The genotype of an organism is the inherited map it carries within its genetic code. A genotype typically implies a measurement of how an individual differs or is specialized within a group of individuals or species. The genotype of an organism is the inherited instructions it carries within its genome. Not all organisms with the same genotype look or act the same way because appearance and behavior are modified by environmental conditions. Likewise, not all organisms that look alike necessarily have the same genotype. The genotype is that part of DNA sequence of the genetic make up of a cell and therefore of an organism or individual, which determines specific characteristics of that cell/organism/individual. Genotype is one of the factors that determines individual development and is a non-environmental factor.
Ones genotype to a large extent determines his/her innate strength and weakness. Some have the gene for hard work, they are go-getters and have that natural endowment to create and develop. These people are mostly very intelligent and industrious. They formed the back bone of the industrial revolution of the west. They create opportunities for themselves where none exist, and excel where others failed.
A phenotype is the composite of an organisms observable characteristics or traits, such as its morphology, development, biochemical, or physiological properties, phenology, behaviour, and products of behavior. Richard Dawkins in 1978 and 1982 suggested that bird nests and other built structures such as caddis fly lanae cases and beaver dams are extended phenotype. A phenotype results from the expression of an organisms genes as well as the influence of environmental factors and the two. The phenotype is the physical manifestation of someones biological make.
Someones phenotype can be a limitation or an advantage to the socio-economic development. There are those that were born with crippled legs or blind. Those people are greatly limited by there phenotype and there is a great probability that these people will not contribute much to the socio-economic development of themselves and the society. They may have the greatest brain capacity, in fact, they may be geniuses but their phenotype will limit them and determine the rate they make use of these gifts and the type of economic activity they engage in.
On the other hand, some people are born with extra strength and energy far more than that of a normal human being. They are genetically capable and can do any hard job to better their living. They are not in anyway limited by their morphology or structure. Everyone knows that we have to be healthy and fit for us to pursue any economic or social activity. If anybody is deformed physiologically, it will be very difficult for the person to make any meaningful accomplishment in life. So, someones phenotype is a great determinant of the socio-economic development of the individual and the society.
GENETIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCE ON HUMAN SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
From the discursion so far, we can first understand that both heredity (genetic) and the environment of man contributes greatly to the development of man. Here, we have to distinguish between individual development and societal development for the sake of clarity.
GENETIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCE ON INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT
The individual is being influenced by so many things within and outside him. Development is both at the personal and societal level, both influence the other. Ones genetic make up is either a strength or weakness of the person. People that have the gene for creation and excellence in any area they choose to engage in. even in a harsh economy like that of Africa and Nigeria in particular, they still have that natural inclination and endowment to survive in any situation. On the other hand, the environment to a great excellence determines the socioeconomic development of the individual. In an environment that is very favorable and enhancing creates opportunities for the development of the individual. Some countries have abundant deposit of mineral resources ad these go a long way in creation of raw material for the expansion of industries for production. Some countries or societies lack these opportunities and their inhabitants survive through the hard way. Nature creates opportunities for individuals socioeconomic development. Wealthy nations through different developmental projects, initiatives and empowerment programs create opportunities for self development of the individual. This may be in form of the education, skill acquisition, or through any means that aims at developing the individual. It is a general belief that societal development is anchored on individual development. So, the environment of the individual if enhanced goes a long way in determining the socioeconomic development of the society in general. This is the major difference between the developed and the developing nations. The developing nations are yet to tap into their natural and human resources to enhance and better the living standard of the society.
Again, it is not only the environment that develops the individuals but also the genetic make up of the inhabitants of a particular geographical location. It is through our ingenuity as humans that we are able to control and redirect nature for our good. Any society that lacks this natural disposition to work on nature can never develop irrespective of the favorable environment they may found themselves in. the west are developing more than we the Africans because they have this natural tendency to develop and this development steams from the individual because the individual is the basis of the society. So, nature, both inherited and acquired forms the basis of the individual development. They determine mans nature, his strength and weakness, his courage and fear, his mindset, aspirations and desires; all depends on the genetic make up and environment of the individual. Looking at how the environment influence individual development we look at the issue of unemployment. The total rate of unemployment rate among the youths is increasing every year. Unemployment increases across all racial and ethnic groups in this present time but with different percentage due to environmental and genetic differences. Problems of unemployment are reflected in levels of individual development.
GENETIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCE ON SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE SOCIETY
It was believed that certain environments and peoples genetic makes made people inherently uncivilized. Both the Environmental determinists and the genetic determinists perceive that the most dominant effect of environment and gene are on the livelihood of human being. How big of a role does geography and gene play in determining the economic growth of places? This idea that geography and nature matters to global development was shaped by notable scholars, Paul Krugman, Jared Diamond, and Jeffrey Sachs. The theory of Environmental determinism as well as that of genetic determinism can be used to explain economic development at a local, regional, or global scale. The direct variables that account for Environmental determinism are; climate, location (close to coast and or river) combined with land composition, latitude, if land locked, and presence of infectious disease, where as the direct variables that account for genetic determinism are genotype and phenotype which determines ones genetic make up. Selected scholars forward that physical environment as well as the genetic make up influence the health and talent of the people. Emmanuel Kant also said that physical environment affects health. For instance, the people of New Holland (East Indies) have closed eyes and cannot see any distance without bending their heads backward to touch their back. This implies that they are short sighted. Andrew (2003), a fundamental environmental determinist, argued that the physical geography, particularly climate influences the psychological mind-set of individuals. According to Emmanuel Kant, the inhabitants of hot lands are lazy and timid; people of temperate regions are more talented and energetic than those of the north and more energetic than those of the south. And Ellsworth Huntington also illustrated that the environment best suits the intellectual and manual activities. And, he also maintains that the different ability among radial groups is due to regional differences in terms of the quality of the natural environment (Dikshit, 2007).
To highlight the fact that genetics and environment determines the societal development, Lewontin, (1991) stated that in an impoverished environment, all people will end up with similar characteristics (wealth, knowledge, etc.); but in an enriched environment, those who naturally have big buckets will end up with more than those with small buckets could possibly hold. For example, people who are malnourished will show smaller individual differences in height than those who are well nourished”. So, societal development is anchored in both environmental and genetic aspect of the society.
Development is the result of society’s capacity to organize resources to meet challenges and opportunities. Society passes through well-defined stages in the course of its development and it is determined by both the genetic make up and environment of the people. They are nomadic hunting and gathering, rural agrarian, urban, commercial, industrial, and post-industrial societies. Both environment and gene contributes and determines humans socioeconomic development.
Development is a human process, in the sense that human beings, not material factors, drive development. The energy and aspiration of people who seek development forms the motive force that drives development. People’s awareness may decide the direction of development. Their efficiency, productivity, creativity, and organizational capacities determine the level of peoples accomplishment and enjoyment. Development is the outer realization of latent inner potentials. The level of people’s education, intensity of their aspiration and energies, quality of their attitudes and values, skills and information all affect the extent and pace of development. These factors come into play whether it is the development of the individual, family, community, nation, or the whole world. Both our environment and our genetic make up determine the socioeconomic development of the individual and society. We must make every necessary effort to improve the standard of living through improving these determinants of human socioeconomic development.
In conclusion, the knowledge of genetics and our environment will go a long way in directing our path to development. Development must be all encompassing to include all aspects of life. To do this, both determinants of human socioeconomic development has to be taken into consideration. Genetic determinism as old as it is cannot claim to single handedly determines human socioeconomic development. Like wise environmental determinism lacks the wherewithal to independently determine human socioeconomic development. To this effect, both are interrelated and dependent on the other. Nature in the form of genetics plays a lot of roles in the economic development of humanity. Likewise, man has to improve his genetic make up through learning, training and other various means to increase and harness mans capacity in developing his socioeconomic status and otherwise.
Organizational improvements introduced to support the innovations can take place simultaneously at four different levelsphysical, social, mental, and psychological. Moreover four different types of resources are involved in promoting development. Of these four, physical resources are most visible, but least capable of expansion. Productivity of resources increases enormously as the quality of organization and level of knowledge inputs rise. Economic development and human development need not mean the same thing. Strategies and policies aimed at greater growth may produce greater income in a country without improving the average living standard. This happened in oil-producing Middle Eastern and African countries as urge in oil prices boosted their national income without much benefit to poorer citizens. Conversely, people oriented programs and policies can improve health, education, living standards, and other quality-of-life measures with no special emphasis on monetary growth.
Based on this, we the Africans should not define our poverty and backwardness on nature or our genetic make up. We should rather fashion a way to subdue and tackle our problems. We are very privileged when it comes to environmental factors, our climate is the best in the world, and we have abundant human and economic resources. The problem we have is how to manage and coordinate our human and economic resources. Since, both environment and heredity contributes to the socioeconomic development of the individual and society. The problem with Africa lies in our mindset. It looks like we have that natural ability to develop independently, both when closed looked at, we understand that what we lack is sense of direction by our leaders.
I therefore recommend that the government at various levels should sit up to the challenges of poverty. Engage in people oriented projects that will enlighten and empower the individual and in turn accelerate the development of the society. At the individual levels, all hands have to be on deck, we have to eschew laziness and constant blame of our poverty on colonialism, and embrace the challenge of socioeconomic development of this current century.
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