E. O. Wilson after twenty years: Is human sociobiology possible?

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 24 (3):320-335 (1994)
Abstract
The second word in the subtitle of this article is crucial. For there can be no doubt but that the possibility of sociobiology below the human level has already been abundantly realized in, for instance, the main body of E. O. Wilson's enormous and encyclopedic treatise Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. What may more reasonably be doubted, and what is in fact questioned here, is whether, as Wilson and others hope and believe, there is much room, or indeed any, for a sociobiology of our own notoriously wayward and idiosyncratic species. In proposing this particular project Wilson and his colleagues have seen themselves as promoting a climactic conquest for evolutionary biology. For surely, they seem to have thought, now, more than a century after Darwin, it is high time and past time to launch the final assault upon the last citadel. But, as we shall proceed to argue, there are reasons—reasons which were available at least in outline even to Darwin himself—why the ideas which have been so triumphantly successful in explaining The Origin of Species cannot properly be applied to what is in truth a fundamentally different task. They cannot, that is to say, properly be transferred to explain developments either within or out of the particular problem species of which the author of that book, along with both all the authors and all the readers of all other books, have been themselves members.
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