"Nature versus nurture" in its modernsense was coined by the English Victorian polymath Francis Galton in discussion of the influence of heredity and environment on social advancement, although theterms had been contrasted previously, for example by Shakespeare (in his play, The Tempest: 4.1). Galton was influenced by the book On the Origin of Species written byhis cousin, Charles Darwin. The concept embodied in the phrase has been criticized for its binary simplification of two tightly interwoven parameters, as for examplean environment of wealth, education and social privilege are often historically passed to genetic offspring.
The view that humans acquire all or almost all theirbehavioral traits from "nurture" is known as tabula rasa ("blank slate"). This question was once considered to be an appropriate division of developmental influences, but sinceboth types of factors are known to play such interacting roles in development, many modern psychologists consider the question naive—representing an outdated state ofknowledge..
In the social and political sciences, the nature versus nurture debate may be contrasted with the structure versus agency debate (i.e.socialization versus individual autonomy). For a discussion of nature versus nurture in language and other human universals, see also psychological nativism.