Biosociology: An Emerging Paradigm

By Anthony Walsh | Go to book overview

compassion of those who championed the policies of the Great Society. They were well-meaning individuals operating under the naïve assumptions of their theories, none of which predicted that the implemented policies would help to grind down the black community in two or three decades. Making essentially the same point, Morowitz ( 1979:167) adds, "The moral to be drawn is that we must work harder to make our knowledge commensurate with our compassion."

The moral Morowitz draws sums up the primary message of this book: Sociology can no longer ignore knowledge about human nature available to it from the biological sciences. Although I am concerned more about the progress of the discipline than its ability to guide social policy, sociology especially cannot afford to ignore the facts of human nature revealed by biology when recommending social policy if it is to avoid more fiascoes. Compassion is a commendable motive for implementing policy, but it often backfires by creating dependence and irresponsibility if not tempered with a broader view of the human nature of the recipients of our compassion. Broader views will only develop when mainstream sociology drops its antagonism toward biology and starts developing vertically integrated theories incorporating applicable biological principles.


NOTES
1.
While most evolutionists agree that it is necessarily true that natural selection works on individual organisms by selecting advantageous alleles, the survival of individual phenotypes is dependent on the survival of other members of the species. Biologically, what is advantageous for the individual is advantageous for the group, and vice versa ( Peres & Hopp, 1990). Other evolutionists (e.g., Gould, 1992), argue that selection operates simultaneously at several levels: genes, organisms, populations, and species.
2.
Most authorities appear to agree that the earliest recognized hominids, Australopithecus afarensis, were harem builders. The evidence usually cited for this conclusion is the high level of sexual dimorphism for size and agonistic features typically found among polygynous animals. These features imply intense male-male competition for access to ovulating females, a competition in which reproductive success goes largely to the strongest and most aggressive males ( Lovejoy, 1981; Foley & Lee, 1989). However, some authorities believe that sexual dimorphism among australopithecines may not have been as great as previously thought ( McHenry, 1991).
3.
The neotenous retention of the skull-to-spine orientation of newborn primates among humans may help us to understand the evolution of bipedalism and concealed ovulation ( Feder & Park, 1989:144). This skull-to-spine orientation is necessary for protracted bipedal locomotion: Humans retain it; nonhuman primates lose it. Given that bipedalism was a fact among early hominids, female genitals would now be hidden between the legs. This would not only make the genitals less accessible to male eyes and nostrils, but it would make estrus swelling decidedly disadvantageous for locomotion. The human downward-tilting vagina exists in mammalian embryos; but

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Biosociology: An Emerging Paradigm
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables and Figures vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Note xv
  • Chapter 1 the Case for Biosociology 1
  • Notes 16
  • Chapter 2 Genetics and Human Behavior 19
  • Notes 41
  • Chapter 3 the Brain and Its Environment 43
  • Notes 66
  • Chapter 4 Emotion and the Autonomic and Endocrine Systems 69
  • Notes 90
  • Chapter 5 Intelligence and Society 93
  • Notes 117
  • Notes 120
  • Chapter 6 Sexual Dimorphism and Sex-Role Behavior 121
  • Notes 142
  • Notes 144
  • Chapter 7 Human Sexuality and Evolution 145
  • Notes 170
  • Chapter 8 the Nature and Nurture of Criminality 173
  • Notes 197
  • Chapter 9 Love, Marriage, and the Family 201
  • Notes 224
  • References 227
  • Name Index 259
  • Subject Index 269
  • About the Author 273
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