The Triumph of Sociobiology / Edition 1

The Triumph of Sociobiology / Edition 1

by John Alcock
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0195143833

ISBN-13: 9780195143836

Pub. Date: 06/28/2001

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

In The Triumph of Sociobiology, John Alcock reviews the controversy that has surrounded evolutionary studies of human social behavior following the 1975 publication of E.O. Wilson's classic, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Denounced vehemently as an "ideology" that has justified social evils and inequalities, sociobiology has survived the assault.

Overview

In The Triumph of Sociobiology, John Alcock reviews the controversy that has surrounded evolutionary studies of human social behavior following the 1975 publication of E.O. Wilson's classic, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Denounced vehemently as an "ideology" that has justified social evils and inequalities, sociobiology has survived the assault. Twenty-five years after the field was named by Wilson, the approach he championed has successfully demonstrated its value in the study of animal behavior, including the behavior of our own species. Yet, misconceptions remain--to our disadvantage.

In this straight-forward, objective approach to the sociobiology debate, noted animal behaviorist John Alcock illuminates how sociobiologists study behavior in all species. He confronts the chief scientific and ideological objections head on, with a compelling analysis of case histories that involve such topics as sexual jealousy, beauty, gender difference, parent-offspring relations, and rape. In so doing, he shows that sociobiology provides the most satisfactory scientific analysis of social behavior available today.

Alcock challenges the notion that sociobiology depends on genetic determinism while showing the shortcoming of competing approaches that rely on cultural or environmental determinism. He also presents the practical applications of sociobiology and the progress sociobiological research has made in the search for a more complete understanding of human activities. His reminder that "natural" behavior is not "moral" behavior should quiet opponents fearing misapplication of evolutionary theory to our species. The key misconceptions about this evolutionary field are dissected one by one as the author shows why sociobiologists have had so much success in explaining the puzzling and fascinating social behavior of nonhuman animals and humans alike.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195143836
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
06/28/2001
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsix
Introduction3
Chapter 1What Is Sociobiology?7
Defining the Discipline7
Refining the Definition10
Sociobiology before Wilson16
So What's All the Fuss About?19
Chapter 2What Sociobiologists Study23
What Is the Purpose of Behavior?23
On Anthropomorphism25
Not All Evolutionary Biologists Are the Same28
Evolved Traits Need Not Help Preserve Species28
How to Identify Darwinian Puzzles Worth Solving32
Chapter 3Sociobiology and Genes41
The Myth of the Genetic Determinist41
The Gene-Behavior Connection46
"No Genes Have Been Found 'for' Social Behaviors"52
Chapter 4Sociobiology and Science57
What Scientists Do57
Opposing the Adaptationist Program59
The Art of Name-Calling64
How to Test Sociobiological Hypotheses68
Critics' Corner: The "Flawed Comparison" Argument73
Chapter 5Science and Reality81
Cultural Relativism and Airplanes81
Science and Politics85
Chapter 6What Have Sociobiologists Discovered?93
The Value of Counting Genes93
Gene Counting and Biased Altruism99
Gene Counting and Sexual Behavior103
Genetic Conflicts between the Sexes109
Parents and Offspring118
The Sociobiology of the Seychelles Warbler122
Chapter 7The Problem with Cultural Determinism129
A Distaste for Biology129
The Shortcomings of Blank Slate Theory134
Blank Slates and Beauty136
Blank Slates and Genocide143
Chapter 8Sociobiology and Human Culture149
Natural Selection and the Evolution of Behavioral Flexibility149
Targeted Flexibility of Behavior in an Insect154
The Evolution of Learning161
Adaptive Design in the Song Learning of Songbirds163
The Adaptive Design of Human Learning Mechanisms166
Selection and Remembering Faces171
Learning, Cultural Change, and Genetic Success174
Sociobiology and Apparently Maladaptive Behavior180
The Demographic Transition182
Chapter 9The Practical Applications of Sociobiology189
A Danger to Society?189
"Natural" Does Not Mean "Moral"193
Know Thyself?195
Cooperation and Conflict in Human Families and Stepfamilies200
The Practical Applications of Socibiology203
Men and Women204
Chapter 10The Triumph of Sociobiology217
Outlasting the Critics217
The Cost of the Continuing Controversy220
Appendix225
Citations231
Selected References245
Illustration Credits247
Index249

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