Please forgive the light posting; I've been up to my eyeballs in final projects and will remain that way for the next week.
I originally started this post early last week, so it may be old news to most of you. If you haven't already, check out the comments on Jim Manzi's post at the American Scene. It's a debate between Manzi and a number of heavy hitters, including Razib and Sailer, on Manzi's NR piece on "genetic determinism," which argues . . . well, I'm not exactly sure what it argues, but it seems to consist of much hand-wringing about how bad bad bad biologically-based racial differences are about anything that matters. Sailer summarizes his response here.
My ability to contribute meaningfully to at debate at this level is limited, but let me focus for a moment on Manzi's prediction that genetic determinism might lead to "the relaxation of the notion of personal responsibility." It should come as small surprise that a Calvinist who has made peace with the paradox of both a sovereign God and Original Sin doesn't have too much trouble in reconciling the fact that our behavior is rooted in biology and the fact of individual accountability for our actions. In any case, nobody is arguing other than that our biology interacts with our environment to produce our behavior; it would follow that the system of rewards and punishments our society creates becomes part of the environment that contributes to our behavior.
But I want to make several points. First, I would point out that the present age of environmental determinism is not exactly the high water mark of personal responsibility. Second, I would point out (as Sailer once pointed out) the utter cruelty in insisting that a low IQ individual failing to perform mentally demanding tasks is exhibiting some kind of character flaw: he isn't applying himself, for instance. That cruelty is amplified by an educational system that attempts to educate smart people and less smart people at the same pace, to the benefit of neither.
But perhaps Manzi has morality more in mind here. Fair enough: no conservative wants low IQ to excuse bad behavior (although the U.S. Supreme Court pretty much did exactly that with its decision prohibiting the execution of people with IQ below 70, so the genie's already out of the bottle). But the flip side is that much of what we describe as "morality" is in fact only the intelligence to anticipate (and be deterred by) the consequences of bad behavior, rather than being motivated by, say, brotherly love and piety. As I recall, Murray and Hernstein documented the inverse relationship between IQ and criminality, and I suspect that such SES correlation that exists would largely disappear when IQ is controlled.
Sure, this kind of reasoning, widely held, could lead to a "liberal therapeutic regime", but not necessarily. In any case, as a guide to policy, surely hard truth is better than pleasant fiction.