9780198508847 / 0198508840

Sense and Nonsense: Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behaviour


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Publisher:Oxford University Press, 2002



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About the book:

Evolutionary theory is one of the most wide-ranging and inspiring of scientific ideas. It offers a battery of methods that can be used to help us understand human behavior. Nevertheless, the legitimacy of this exercise is at the center of a heated controversy that has raged for over a century. Many evolutionary biologists, anthropologists and psychologists have taken these evolutionary principles and tried using them to explain a wide range of human characteristics, such as homicide, religion and sex differences in behavior. Others, however, are sceptical of these interpretations. Moreover, researchers disagree as to the best ways to use evolution to explore humanity, and a number of schools have emerged.
'Sense and Nonsense' provides an introduction to the ideas, methods, and findings of five such schools, namely, sociobiology, human behavioural ecology, evolutionary psychology, memetics, and gene-culture co-evolution. Carefully guiding the reader through the mire of confusing terminology, claim and counter-claim, and polemical statements, Laland and Brown provide a balanced, rigorous analysis that scrutinizes both the evolutionary arguments and the allegations of the critics. This is a book that will be make fascinating reading for popular science readers, undergraduate and postgraduate students (for example, in psychology, anthropology and zoology), and to experts on one approach who would like to know more about the other perspectives. Having completed this book the reader will feel better placed to assess the legitimacy of claims made about human behavior under the name of evolution, and to make judgements as to what is sense and what is nonsense.

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