Good overview of The Blank Slate
However, the problem with all happy disclaimers along the lines of "we aren't really talking about biological determinism" is that at some point nature and nurture are going to come up against each other as rival expanations in a zero-sum game. Was this action done because of "biological cause" or "cultural reason"?
And it's not so easy to make a coherent blend of the two as you might hope.
What are your options?
You can argue that an act is commited for both biological and cultural reasons.
But then this supposes a miraculous (inexplicable) agreement between the two. And if you think that reason is always naturalized to, or constrained to be compatible with, biology, you've pretty much eliminated it in favour of biological determinism anyway.
You can argue that in the absence of cultural reasons, biology gives you the default "presets" for behaviour. But that, once there are cultural reasons, they trump the biology.
But this, of course, puts culture on top, because now biology only has an effect when given permission by culture. If it's sooo easy to over-ride biology, then it looks like appeals to biology are themselves just a cultural political choice.
So you may prefer a variant on the above, that says biology gives you tendencies which must be struggled against by culture. They can be over-ridden, but only at some effort.
But this throws the question back. What about about the act of struggling, the decision to fight your nature? Is that itself culturally or biologically caused? What determines whether such a struggle is sufficient - reason or cause?
Another way to go. You might think certain, very fundamental or primitive acts are biologically determined. But that most acts are complex, (represented in "software"), and this means that culture can intervene.
This is often the most popular intuition. However, it throws a huge burden of proof on the "naturist". What acts are absolutely immune to cultural intervention? The favourite domains : eating, sex, staying alive, can all be demonstrably trumped by culture. People adapt their diet, become vegetarian, prefer gay sex, fetishize inanimate objects, die for causes and commit suicide (sometimes by starving themselves to death.) And it only takes one example of each of these to falsify the claim that this behaviour is necessarily biologically determined without any culture involved.
The point I'm trying to make here, is not that there's no human nature. Or that the huge amount of scientific evidence of biological differences between sexes, or observable statistical preferences by men for young, symmetrical females must be discounted. But that a good coherent "compatibilist" theory which allows for biological causes, but denies biological determinism is much harder than is given credit here.
Some of the most striking and sophisticated attempts to negotiate the rivalries between reasons and causes are from Donald Davidson and John McDowell (who was here giving a talk a few weeks ago).
McDowell pretty much dissolves all talk of causes into reasons, arguing that the two can't be separated and the world (as understood through science) must already be coloured by our cultural assumptions. While Davidson buys a compatibility between the two called anomolous monism which claims that the biological, causal world has no "semantics". Maybe there are biological causes that push the body around, but we can't make sense of them as being "about" or "directed towards" the kind of things we care about. Biology can't give us a taste for "symmetrical mates" because the concepts of "symmetry" and "mates" only have meaning (and reference) when taken within our conceptual framework, which is part of our culture.
These are some of the real positions from which smart leftists are rejecting evolutionary psychology claims, and it might be more interesting for other smart people like Steven Johnson to address them rather than worry about dinner-party guests who equate Darwin with neo-nazis.