Leading Article: We Still Have Free Will in the Age of Genetics
WHEN SCIENTISTS claimed to have found the "gay gene", they detonated a furious argument about free will and determinism. It had long been argued that the age of consent for homosexual sex should not be equalised at 16 because homosexuality was "just a phase", and young men might be "converted" to it at a vulnerable and ambiguous time of their lives. Those in favour of equality responded that most people feel sure about their sexuality long before they are 16. Some of them seized on the finding that homosexuality might be genetically determined as ammunition for their side of the debate, but this was premature.
Now another study claims to have found that bullying is in the genes. This is a gross simplification of the conclusion of a study that itself assumes that the lines of causation from genes to personality are simple. This is a rapidly growing area of research, which has recently produced findings (again, not yet replicated in other studies) that "cautiousness", and differences in behaviour between boys and girls, may be genetically determined.
The problem is that the way in which genes influence personality is neither simple nor well understood. …