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Nature, nurture and liberal values

Biology determines our behaviour more than it suits many to acknowledge. But people—and politics and morality—cannot be described just by neural impulses

By Roger Scruton   February 2012

Beyond Human Nature by Jesse Prinz (Allen Lane, £22) Incognito by David Eagleman (Canongate, £20) You and Me: the Neuroscience of Identity by Susan Greenfield (Notting Hill Editions, £10)

Human beings are diverse and live in diverse ways. Should we accept that we are diverse by nature, having followed separate evolutionary paths? Or should we suppose that we share our biological inheritance, but develop differently according to environment and culture? Over recent years scientific research has reshaped this familiar “nature-nurture” debate, which remains central to our understanding of human nature and morality.

For much of the 20th century social scientists…

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