The Transformation of Human Sociobiology

I offer some proposals for how human sociobiology might be transformed from a collection of unsupported claims into a rigorous successor discipline. The achievement of behavioral ecology in providing functional descriptions of animal behavior suggest that the goal of human sociobiology ought to be to give functional characterizations of human behavior. Much traditional human sociobiology tries to be more ambitious, attempting to build grand theories of human nature. I argue that these ventures fail, and that pursuit of the more modest task of achieving functional descriptions will require that human sociobiologists undergo a four-stage process. The four stages involve: (1) the liberalization of evolutionary theory, (2) the construction of precise models and the development of systematic data, (3) the recognition of the effects of cultural transmission, and (4) the integration of evolutionary ideas with considerations about proximate and developmental mechanisms. Only the first two stages are treated in any detail.
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