Not in Our Genes  

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“We [Richard Lewontin, Steven Rose, and Leon Kamin] share a commitment to the prospect of the creation of a more socially just—a socialist—society. And we recognize that a critical science is an integral part of the struggle to create that society, just as we also believe that the social function of much of today’s science is to hinder the creation of that society by acting to preserve the interests of the dominant class, gender, and race.” --preface to Not in Our Genes (1984)

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Not in Our Genes: Biology, Ideology and Human Nature is a 1984 book by the evolutionary geneticist Richard Lewontin, the neurobiologist Steven Rose, and the psychologist Leon Kamin, in which the authors criticize sociobiology and genetic determinism and advocate a socialist society.

The book formed part of a larger campaign against sociobiology. Its authors were praised for their criticism of IQ testing, and were complimented by some for their critique of sociobiology. However, they have been criticized for misrepresenting the views of scientists such as the biologist E. O. Wilson and the ethologist Richard Dawkins, for using "determinism" and "reductionism" simply as terms of abuse, and for the influence of Marxism on their views. Critics have seen its authors' conclusions as political rather than scientific.


Lewontin, Rose and Kamin identify themselves as "respectively an evolutionary geneticist, a neurobiologist, and a psychologist." They criticize biological determinism and reductionism, and state that they share a commitment to the creation of a socialist society and a recognition that "a critical science is an integral part of the struggle to create that society". Their understanding of science draws on ideas suggested by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and developed by Marxist scholars in the 1930s. They also draw on the ideas of the Marxist philosopher György Lukács, as put forward in History and Class Consciousness (1923), as well as the ideas of the Marxist philosopher Ágnes Heller and the communist revolutionary Mao Zedong. They discuss and criticize the views of authors such as E. O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins, and Donald Symons. They criticize Wilson's Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (1975). They maintain that, like some other sociobiologists, Symons maintains that "the manifest trait is not itself coded by genes, but that a potential is coded and the trait only arises when the appropriate environmental cue is given." In their view, "Despite its superficial appearance of dependence on environment, this model is completely genetically determined, independent of the environment." They write that Symons' arguments in The Evolution of Human Sexuality (1979) provide examples "of how sociobiological theory can explain anything, no matter how contradictory, by a little mental gymnastics".

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