Handbook of Biology and Politics
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Handbook of Biology and Politics

Edited by Steven A. Peterson and Albert Somit

The study of biology and politics (or biopolitics) has gained considerable currency in recent years, as articles on the subject have appeared in mainstream journals and books on the subject have been well received. The literature has increased greatly since the 1960s and 1970s, when this specialization first made an appearance. This volume assesses the contributions of biology to political science. Chapters focus on general biological approaches to politics, biopolitical contributions to mainstream areas within political science, and linkages between biology and public policy. The volume provides readers with a comprehensive introduction to the subject.
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Chapter 18: Biopolicy and policymaking

Odelia Funke


This chapter explains why the findings of the biological sciences are critical to both the study and the practice of public policy-making. It contrasts a biopolitical perspective to mainstream analytic approaches, showing that reliance on utilitarian assumptions and their derivative methodologies leads to distorted analyses and misdirected policies. Even in areas such as environmental policy, where the importance of biological science is acknowledged, analytic solutions are wrongly framed in utilitarian market terms. The need for incorporating biological research in social science is illustrated with discussions of public health policy (obesity) and findings from neuroscience (particularly the emotional components of rational thought). The author concludes that as global interdependence accelerates, there is less room for error. The well-being of society, even the survival of humankind, depends upon policies that incorporate knowledge about how complex biological systems evolve and interact at every level.

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