"What to do if we think that researchers have overlooked a significant issue for 100 years? The case of quantitative genetics and underlying heterogeneity"
Peter J. Taylor
Science in a Changing World graduate program, University of Massachusetts Boston

In the conceptual systemization of models and theories that dominates philosophy of biology in the North America, claims of issues overlooked are routinely made or implied. If 5 or 10 years counts for a “long time,” the title question can, in principle, be asked not only by philosophers but also by sociologists and historians of science as well as by scientists. In this talk, I address the in-principle question, describe a specific case, and review a range of ways I have been working to influence scientific debates around the case. This review of my own efforts does not answer the title question, but rather makes the case for systematic attention to the models that science studies scholars have regarding their aspirations and strategies for influencing science. The crux of the specific case is that throughout its 100-year history quantitative genetics (as well as commentators on nature-nurture issues) seem to have overlooked the implications of underlying heterogeneity--although relatives may be similar for a given trait because they share more genes or environmental conditions than unrelated individuals, the genes and environmental conditions underlying the development of the trait need not be the same from one set of relatives to another. The possibility of underlying heterogeneity has significant implications for the analysis and interpretation of classical and modern quantitative genetics.

Supporting materials
Shortlink to access this page: http://bit.ly/tayloroverlook

Visual aids for 29 March talk

Practice run of presentation (with low volume for first minutes)

Audience responsesabout what to do, from 2011 presentation of this talk

Chang, H. (2013) "Putting science back into the history of science, Professor Hasok Chang," Presidential address to the British Society for History of Science (22 July 2013), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynRSXVAjA4U
Stanford, K. (2006). Exceeding Our Grasp: Science, History, and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives. New York: Oxford University Press.
Taylor, P. J. (2000). "From natural selection to natural construction to disciplining unruly complexity: The challenge of integrating ecology into evolutionary theory," pp. 377-393 in R. Singh, K. Krimbas, D. Paul & J. Beatty (eds.), Thinking About Evolution: Historical, Philosophical and Political Perspectives, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
----- (2012). "A gene-free formulation of classical quantitative genetics used to examine results and interpretations under three standard assumptions." Acta Biotheoretica 60(4): 357-378.
----- (2014). Nature-Nurture? No: Moving the Sciences of Variation and Heredity Beyond the Gaps. Arlington, MA: The Pumping Station.
----- (2015). ""His nature, her nurture-or what good are conceptual critiques for tackling practical concerns about the development of gendered individuals?" Paper at meetings of International Society for History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology, Montreal, http://bit.ly/ishpssb15 [On the 5 nature-nurture sciences]

in development
Audience responses about what to do, 3/29/16