Sociobiology Evolutionary Psychology

By Selin, Risto | Skeptic (Altadena, CA), Spring 1999 | Go to article overview

Sociobiology Evolutionary Psychology


Selin, Risto, Skeptic (Altadena, CA)


Brian Siano's review of Edward 0. Wilson's book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (SKEPTIC V. 6, #1) made me very skeptical. For example, Siano totally ignores what Wilson says about genes, minds and culture when claiming that natural selection--unlike current environment--has no role in decision making, because there are no genes which directly shape our decisions. But there are genetically based epigenetic rules or mental modules shaped by natural selection and enriched by ontogenetic development. These rules direct and bias our decision making based on inputs from current environment. In other words, decision making is based on the epigenetic rules dictated by selected genes, the ontogenetic development of these rules and the immediate context.

Siano complains that Wilson doesn't seem to wonder if, maybe, the vagueness of social theorists might just come with the territory. Well, as a sample, how about "Everyone knows that the social sciences are hypercomplex. They are inherently far more difficult than physics and chemistry, and as a result they, not physics and chemistry, should be called the hard sciences" (p. 183)? …

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