Damien Sullivan (mindstalk) wrote,
Damien Sullivan

More sociobiology

John Wilkins and P.Z. Myers -- the former is an "unflinching sociobiologist" and the latter calls himself lapsed with positive views. Both, to my surprise, distinguish it from evolutionary psychology -- not in the sense I've seen before of evo psych getting more cautious than sociobiology and concentrating the science, but in an opposite sense of amplifying the flaws of sociobiology, being too eagerly adaptationist, and too committed to mental modularity, as in principle 4 of Tooby and Cosmides's primer. The latter might be a fair cop... but I also wonder if this is an atheist/agnostic like debate, where the real sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists are all doing the same good science, but flustered and squabbling over labels.

A paragraph from Wilkins:

Now I want to note at the outset that there are several kinds of thing that get called sociobiology, according to one's attitude to biological accounts of social behaviour, and the age in which the writers under consideration worked. Few disciplines are as history-ridden as evolutionary biology, and few within that as social biology. I mark out three types of social biology: the standard Evil Demon of eugenics and "social Darwinism" (which is neither social, nor Darwinian, nor ever an actual historical movement, but that's for another day). We may dismiss this as being of no positive value apart from an object lesson in how not to apply science to society. The second is the movement of the 1970s to treat humans as social animals and discuss the ways in which evolution has shaped us. This is the sense of the term in Wilson and Wilson, and which I will discuss below. The third is that same evolutionary psychology. A few short words about that before we begin.
Tags: science
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