Inbreeding, Incest, and the Incest Taboo: The State of Knowledge at the Turn of the Century

Inbreeding, Incest, and the Incest Taboo: The State of Knowledge at the Turn of the Century

by Arthur Wolf
     
 

ISBN-10: 0804751412

ISBN-13: 9780804751414

Pub. Date: 11/01/2004

Publisher: Stanford University Press

Is inbreeding harmful? Are human beings and other primates naturally inclined to mate with their closest relatives? Why is incest widely prohibited? Why does the scope of the prohibition vary from society to society? Why does incest occur despite the prohibition? What are the consequences? After one hundred years of intense argument, a broad consensus has emerged

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Overview

Is inbreeding harmful? Are human beings and other primates naturally inclined to mate with their closest relatives? Why is incest widely prohibited? Why does the scope of the prohibition vary from society to society? Why does incest occur despite the prohibition? What are the consequences? After one hundred years of intense argument, a broad consensus has emerged on the first two questions, but the debate over the others continues.

That there is a biological basis for the avoidance of inbreeding seems incontrovertible, but just how injurious inbreeding really is for successive generations remains an open question. Nor has there been any conclusion to the debate over Freud’s view that the incest taboo is necessary because humans are sexually attracted to their closest relatives—a claim countered by Westermarck's argument for the sexually inhibiting effects of early childhood association.

This book brings together contributions from the fields of genetics, behavioral biology, primatology, biological and social anthropology, philosophy, and psychiatry which reexamine these questions.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780804751414
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
Publication date:
11/01/2004
Edition description:
1
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction1
1Inbreeding avoidance and incest taboos24
2Genetic aspects of inbreeding and incest38
3Inbreeding avoidance in primates61
4Explaining the Westermarck effect, or, what did natural selection select for?76
5Ancient Egyptian sibling marriage and the Westermarck effect93
6From genes to incest taboos : the crucial step109
7Assessing the gaps in Westermarck's theory121
8Refining the incest taboo : with considerable help from Bronislaw Malinowski139
9Evolutionary thought and the current clinical understanding of incest161
10The incest taboo as Darwinian natural right190

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