Human Nature and Public Policy: An Evolutionary Approach

Human Nature and Public Policy: An Evolutionary Approach

by A. Somit, S. Peterson


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Arguing for an evolutionary perspective, this book directly challenges the Standard Social Science Model (SSSM) on which public policy has often been based. The SSSM maintains that human behavior is solely the product of culture and learning. In sharp contrast, the Evolutionary Model (EM) holds that our behavior flows from the interaction between learning and culture, on the one hand, and biological factors-especially our evolutionary legacy-on the other. These different approaches to human behavior understandably lead to divergent conceptions of sound domestic and foreign policy. The SSSM views human behavior as essentially plastic and thus readily changed by governmental action. Disagreeing, the Evolutionary Model sees that malleability as seriously limited by our species' evolved propensity for aggression, status seeking, xenophobia, ethnocentrism, and hierarchical social structures.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781403961167
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan US
Publication date: 09/22/2003
Edition description: 2003
Pages: 266
Product dimensions: 5.51(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.03(d)

About the Author

Albert Somit is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Southern Illinois University. He has served as Executive Vice-President of SUNY-Buffalo and President of Southern Illinois University. He is a pioneer of biopolitics and founder of the International Political Science Association's research Committee on Biology and Politics.

Steven A. Peterson is Director of the School of Public Affairs and Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Penn State Harrisburg. His areas of research interest include American Politics, Public Policy, and the relationship of biology to politics. He is on the Council of the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences and serves as Vice-President and Secretary of the International Political Science Association Research Committee on Biology and Politics.

Drs. Somit and Peterson have co-authored or co-edited such volumes as Evolutionary Theory and the Social and Behavioral Sciences (2001), Research in Biopolitics (1996), The Dynamics of Evolution: The Punctuated Equilibrium Debate in the Natural and Social Sciences (1992), and, of course, their highly controversial Darwinism, Dominance, and Democracy (1997).

Table of Contents

PART I: INTRODUCTION The Standard Social Science Model versus the Evolutionary Model: Implications for Public Policy; A.Somit & S.A.Peterson Reflections on Human Nature and Policy; L.Tiger The Missing Dimension in Public Policy: Knowledge from the Life Sciences; L.K.Caldwell PART II: INTERNATIONAL APPLICATIONS Human Propensities, War, and Self-Correcting Mechanisms; J.D.Singer Evolutionary Theory, the Origins of Ethnic Conflict, and State Building; B.Thayer Implications of Legalized Euthanasia in Democracy: The Case of the Netherlands; E.L.F.Falger, M.R.Quirine & V.S.E.Falger PART III: DOMESTIC POLICY Evolutionary Theory and Prostitution Laws; M.McGuire & M.Gruter Neuroscience, Free Will, and Individual Responsibility: Policy Implications; R.Blank Biotechnology Is Very Rapid Evolutionary Progress; H.Caton Explore and Exploit: An Evolutionary Analysis of Institutional Dynamics; P.Zak & A.Denzau Evolutionary Theory and Criminal Justice; L.Ellis Evolution and Political Marketing; G.Saad MacLean's Evolutionary Neuroscience: Some Clinical and Policy Implications; G.A.Cory The Genetics of Altruism and Good Samaritan Laws; J.Strate

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