|Politics in Our Genes: The Biology of ideology|
John R. Alford, Department of Political Science, Rice University
|date:||4:00PM US Central (GMT −0500)|
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
|location:||McMurtry Auditorium Duncan Hall|
Abstract - Aristotle famously observed that “man is by nature a political animal” and that “a social instinct is implanted in all men by nature”. This early apprehension that there is a biology of politics has had very little impact on the study or practice of politics. The focus of my research reflects an effort to take Aristotle’s assertion literally and assess it empirically, with a specific focus on explaining variations in human political ideology. One obvious implication is that if ‘implanted by nature’ important political orientations could be genetically heritable. A recent study (Alford, Funk, and Hibbing, 2005), employing a large sample of MZ and DZ twins, concluded that roughly half of the variance in political ideology is attributable to genetics. Taken seriously this implies much more than just a genetics of ideology. We must also map out the neuro-physiology of ideology, and even the psychopharmacology of ideology. All of this work is beginning to be done and the early results are promising. Along the way research findings in areas as diverse as autism, the domestication of dogs, food disgust, vole family values, and lactation all contribute valuable insights. And of course the implications of a biology of ideology, and more broadly of all of politics, are manifold.
Biography of John R. Alford
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