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PART III Biology, Contingency and History

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-person singular and plural – the ‘I’ and the ‘we’ – from the perspective of contemporary work in biology, cognitive psychology and neuroscience. In doing so, I suggest that Kratochwil’s thick constructivism at once is too radical and too conservative. It is too radical because it neglects the fact that the feelings, sentiments and emotions that provide the motivations for much of the behaviour he seeks to explain are not ‘floating freely’ (to borrow a term from a proponent of a rather ‘thin’ constructivism) but are embodied in and experienced by biological agents. Someone has

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sense, describing a social cohort, yet in medicine and human biology its older vertical meaning derived from the Latin generatio has remained strong. Through the 20th century both generation and its derived concepts – the adjectives intergenerational , transgenerational and multigenerational – have been defined in relation, and sometimes in opposition, to the prevalent trends in thinking about heredity. Intergenerational came into use in the mid-20th century to capture the recurrence of certain (pathological) phenomena in successive generations. It implied

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3 ONE Biology and the drive for human improvement In this chapter, we begin with a brief introduction to the recent developments in the biological sciences. We go on to examine how these are joining with older projects to improve the human condition. We review the origins of these projects in the natural yearning for a utopia, free from misery, disorder and disease. We then trace the ascendency of developmental psychology and ‘infant determinism’ which has always been a key part of the project of human improvement. The application of molecular biology and

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25 TWO How knowledge gets made in neuroscience and molecular biology In the preface and opening chapter of the book, we outlined the ways in which technological biologies have joined forces with the enduring project of human improvement. We have hinted that the way biology has flourished of late has been, to a significant degree, a product of a mutually reinforcing configuration of alliances and networks which buttress the biotechnological research agenda, and which also serve to fuel particular ways of thinking about deviance and risk. This chapter

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contrast to the idea that race has any natural or biological basis. But it is an insistence that sets up odd ideas about the status and reality of race, and the relationship between society and nature. In a rush to dismiss biology, the natural and the real are sometimes conflated as if they mean the same thing, to be replaced by the social and constructed. Divisions between the social and the natural, or between culture and environment, or construction and essence are the core of a problem about the ontological status of race. To take one example, the opening to

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This volume and its companion, The New Dynamics of Ageing Volume 1, provide comprehensive multi-disciplinary overviews of the very latest research on ageing. Together they report the outcomes of the most concerted investigation ever undertaken into both the influence shaping the changing nature of ageing and its consequences for individuals and society.

This book concentrates on four major themes: autonomy and independence in later life, biology and ageing, food and nutrition and representation of old age. Each chapter provides a state of the art topic summary as well as reporting the essential research findings from New Dynamics of Ageing research projects. There is a strong emphasis on the practical implications of ageing and how evidence-based policies, practices and new products can produce individual and societal benefits.

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The social implications of epigenetics and neuroscience
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In recent years, new areas of biology, especially epigenetics and neuroscience, have enthralled the public imagination. They have been used as powerful arguments for developing social policy in a particular direction, from early intervention in the lives of disadvantaged children to seeking ‘biomarkers’ as identifiers of criminality.

This timely book, written by leading commentators, critically examines the capabilities and limitations of these biotechnologies, exploring their implications for policy and practice.

The book will enable social scientists, policy makers, practitioners and interested general readers to understand how the new biologies of epigenetics and neuroscience have increasingly influenced the fields of family policy, mental health, child development and criminal justice.

The book will facilitate much needed debate about what makes a good society and how best to build one. It also draws attention to the ways that the uncertainties of the original science are lost in their translation into the everyday world of practice and policy.

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This is the second volume arising from the ground-breaking New Dynamics of Ageing Research Programme. While the Programme produced many scientific papers and several project-based books this (and its companion volume) is the only place where most of the projects are represented in specially commissioned chapters. Each of these reports the key findings from each research project and places them in a wider context. Each chapter also contains a summary of key findings. Like its predecessor this book covers a wide range of state-of-the-art research on ageing, with a specific focus on autonomy and independence, the biology of ageing, nutrition in later life and representations of ageing.

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This is the second volume arising from the ground-breaking New Dynamics of Ageing Research Programme. While the Programme produced many scientific papers and several project-based books this (and its companion volume) is the only place where most of the projects are represented in specially commissioned chapters. Each of these reports the key findings from each research project and places them in a wider context. Each chapter also contains a summary of key findings. Like its predecessor this book covers a wide range of state-of-the-art research on ageing, with a specific focus on autonomy and independence, the biology of ageing, nutrition in later life and representations of ageing.

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