Developmental decomposition and the future of human behavioral ecology

Philosophy of Science 57 (1):96-117 (1990)
I attempt to complement my earlier critiques of human sociobiology, by offering an account of how evolutionary ideas might legitimately be employed in the study of human social behavior. The main emphasis of the paper is the need to integrate studies of proximate mechanisms and their ontogenesis with functional/evolutionary research. Human psychological complexity makes it impossible to focus simply on specific types of human behavior and ask for their functional significance. For any of the kinds of behavior patterns that have occupied human sociobiologists, the underlying proximate mechanisms are very likely to be linked to a broad spectrum of types of behavior, and we cannot expect that natural selection will have acted directly on any individual element from this spectrum. I illustrate this general point with a specific example, considering the traditional sociobiological account of human incest-avoidance and outlining an alternative approach to the phenomena. The example is intended to show the possibility of a more rigorous and sophisticated successor to human sociobiology, which I call "human behavioral ecology"
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DOI 10.1086/289533
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Kim Sterelny (1992). Evolutionary Explanations of Human Behaviour. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 70 (2):156 – 173.
Catherine Driscoll (2009). On Our Best Behavior: Optimality Models in Human Behavioral Ecology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 40 (2):133-141.

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