The sociology of sociobiology

Abstract This paper turns the tables on the criticisms of sociobiology that stem from a sociological perspective; many of those criticisms lack cogency and coherence in such measure as to demand, in their turn, a psycho?sociological explanation rather than a rational justification. This thesis, after a brief exposition of the main ideas of sociobiology, is argued in terms of four of the most prominent complaints made against it. Far from embodying tired prejudices about the psychological and sociological implications of biology, sociobiology actually reverses a number of naive assumptions about the consequences of natural selection. I surmise that what really provokes the critics of sociobiology is a certain philosophical relevance of sociobiology both in the broad sense (the application of natural selection principles to behaviour) and in the narrow sense (the insistence on the centrality of certain mechanisms, such as gene selection). In both cases, taking biology seriously affects our philosophical vision of the nature of human beings. At the deepest level, however, the distinction between the level at which rational criteria apply and those where we must have recourse to psycho?social explanations probably breaks down
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