82835517

Move over son, the professionals are here

Evolutionary psychology week lasted all of two days … I will put up my own argument about Randy Thornhill’s theory of rape, and a few others, pretty soon. But I’ve just rediscovered this article by Val Dusek, which is the best thing I’ve read on the whole debate. It also reminded me what a perfect shit Stephen Pinker looks when you know a little bit of the background to some of the things he says about Margaret Mead. Print out and read on the train home, that’s my advice.

edit God damn that article’s good. I’m amazed to discover the extent to which I’d subconsciously plagiarised it.

edit again Damn me, it’s good. I think I’ll excerpt a non-representative chunk here, because it sort of buries a point which is, I think, profoundly important:

What Dennett would have to counter is Lewontin and Sober’s argument that when selection coefficients of genes are context-dependent and selection acts on gene complexes, the artificially constructed selection coefficients of genes do not play a causal role. (Sober and Lewontin, 1984). It is true that if one claims that what is selected are not genes but replicators as the later Dawkins does, then whole genomes, incorporating all the contextual effects of genes on each other, might be the object of selection. This would preserve the restriction of selection to the genic level, but it would give up the atomization of modular traits with which evolutionary psychologists work.

Massively important, given that now we have the results of the Human Genome Project in, we *know* that most inherited human behavioural traits will have to have been selected through gene-complexes rather than individual genes. I have not yet seen the EP defence of their core doctrine that traits are modular in the face of this new development; I’d appreciate any pointers to the literature if there are good arguments that the doctrine either can be preserved, or is not actually necessary to the theory.

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