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Epigenetic determinism in science and society

  • Miranda R. Waggoner
  • Tobias Uller
Publishing year: 2015
Language: English
Pages: 177-195
Publication/Series: New Genetics and Society
Volume: 34
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Taylor & Francis

Abstract english

The epigenetic "revolution" in science cuts across many disciplines, and it is now one of the fastest-growing research areas in biology. Increasingly, claims are made that epigenetics research represents a move away from the genetic determinism that has been prominent both in biological research and in understandings of the impact of biology on society. We discuss to what extent an epigenetic framework actually supports these claims. We show that, in contrast to the received view, epigenetics research is often couched in language as deterministic as genetics research in both science and the popular press. We engage the rapidly emerging conversation about the impact of epigenetics on public discourse and scientific practice, and we contend that the notion of epigenetic determinism - or the belief that epigenetic mechanisms determine the expression of human traits and behaviors - matters for understandings of the influence of biology and society on population health.


  • Genetics
  • epigenetics revolution
  • epigenetic determinism
  • genetic determinism
  • epigenetics


  • ISSN: 1463-6778