Nature vs. Nurture Paper Outline

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Thesis: The argument on the relative importance of nature versus that of nurture had been long and fruitless.

I.Numerous great minds have participated in this debate over the years.

A. Most debate has either remained divisive or lacking of evidence.

B. Although this question has been largely solved in the animal world, scientists continue to try to test humans. (Pigliucci 2002)

C. Humans are resistant to empirical analysis.

II.         Modern issues on the subject can be clearly be related back to the works of Locke and Hobbes.

A. Lock believed that knowledge is gained only through the use of senses.

1. tabula rasa

2. Theory of human nature

B. Hobbes purposed that naturally fearful and violent mechanical processes dictate human actions.

1. Leviathan

2. Humans only hope is to submit to an organized state.

III.         20th century understanding introduced the evolutionary idea of a reaction norm.

A. Reactions norms are all the possible behaviors one with certain genes may exhibit due to a variety of environmental conditions.

(Pigliucci 2002)

B. Changes in genes or environments cause dramatic impacts on resulting behavior.

C. A genotype-environment interaction is the way genes and environments interact to generate an organism's appearance and behavior. (Lewontin 1984)

IV. Conclusion

A. There is no sensible answer to this question.

B. With a strong temptation to keep guessing, philosophers and scientists alike are left responding, "I don't know."

C. The question only leads us to examine our own practices of public policy and ethical consequences.


Lewontin, R.C., S. Rose, and L. J. Kamin. 1984. Not in our genes : biology, ideology, and human nature New York : Pantheon Books

Hellman, Hal, 1998. Great feuds in science : ten of the liveliest disputes ever. New York : Wiley

Harris, Judith, 1999. The NURTURE ASSUMPTION: Why Children Turn Out...