Evolutionary Psychology - The Moral Animal

Jonathan Badger badger at phylo.life.uiuc.edu
Mon Oct 16 11:11:52 EST 1995

ghanenbu at inter.nl.net (Gerrit Hanenburg) writes:

>Well,I seem to remember that until 1989 Marxism was a political movement
>with quite some influence in the world.In the days of publication of
>"Sociobiology.The new synthesis"(1975) "Marxist academics" were as real as
>"Republican academics" in particular in the Sovjet Union and Eastern
>Europe.Suggesting that human social behaviour is determined by genetic
>factors was moreless blasphemy to them.
>This looks more like an observation to me,not name calling.

Well, I gave this example because it is quite readily available. When
I took a history of science course as an undergraduate I read many
excerpts from the arguments concerning "Sociobiology" when it
appeared. When Wilson and his followers referred to "Marxists" it was
clear that they weren't talking about Soviets -- they were talking
about Western opponents of "Sociobiology" who they claimed opposed it
for political reasons.

>>Later in the chapter, he very strongly suggests that the only reason why
>>anyone could possibly disagree with "Sociobiology" is because their leftist
>>politics prevent them from accepting Scientific Truth.

>He very strongly suggests? What *does* he write?

Well, I don't have "Naturalist" in front of me; read the chapter and see if
you disagree with my assessment that Wilson claims his critics only oppose
"Sociobiology" for political reasons.

>If Wilson really wasn't interested in scientific argument he would never
>have become the prominent academic he actually is.

As far as I can tell, the only prominence Wilson has achieved is from
his genuinely scientific studies of ants. "Sociobiology" was published
in the popular press because it wouldn't stand up to peer review.

I frankly do not know (or particularly care) if human behavior is
genetic or not. However, if I am to accept that a given human behavior
is in fact genetic, some actual genetic data is needed. This is no
more than expected from explanations of other human traits such as the
cause of cystic fibrosis. 

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