Straight Science? Homosexuality, Evolution and Adaptation

By Jim McKnight | Go to book overview

Preface

At the risk of entirely blowing my credibility at the outset, let me start this speculative look at male homosexuality by saying that it is written by a straight researcher who is less interested in explaining homosexuality, or in passing comment on it as a lifestyle, than in the perspective of a theorist confronted with an enormous difficulty threatening the tidy order of his theoretical universe. Homosexuality is a major problem for those like myself who believe that Darwinism is the great unifying force which social theory, particularly psychology, so desperately needs for internal coherence. Unfortunately, few would agree and there are many challenges to a Darwinistic view of the social order. Perhaps one of the cleverest challenges to confront evolutionary theory is homosexuality. Homosexuality seems to be a tailor-made rebuttal of the great evolutionary credo-survival of the fittest. How do we explain what is often a lifelong preference for non-reproductive sex? Surely homosexuality defies evolutionary explanation?

This is a clever criticism. While far from being a life against nature, homosexuality seems to contradict the Darwinian logic of individual reproductive success. Yet any number of surveys tell us that there are many homosexuals, and history attests to homosexuality's antiquity. If homosexuality is 'futile' sex, why are gay men still with us? Despite the weight of a historical bad press, which sees homosexuality as a pathological inversion of normal heterosexuality, its continuance suggests it is an adaptive feature of evolution. What selective advantages might homosexuals enjoy? How is such a widespread social behaviour to be explained? In this book we set out to answer these and other questions from an evolutionary perspective. While many would argue that Darwinism adds little to our understanding of homosexuality, nevertheless, causation is an intriguing puzzle and, if a diverse gay literature is any guide, is often a source of confusion for homosexuals themselves. Apart from being a purely intellectual puzzle, these questions also touch on much broader issues about the nature of biosocial research.

If the genesis of a book arises from dissatisfaction, mine was pro-

-x-

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Straight Science? Homosexuality, Evolution and Adaptation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures and Tables ix
  • Preface x
  • Chapter 1 - Is Male Homosexuality Adaptive? 1
  • Chapter 2 - A Biology of Homosexuality 18
  • Chapter 3 - Homosexuality as Physical Evolution 64
  • Chapter 4 - Homosexuality as Social Evolution 124
  • Chapter 5 - The Seven Deadly Sins of Sociobiology 163
  • Glossary 188
  • Bibliography 194
  • Author Index 210
  • Subject Index 214
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