David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Law and Philosophy 29 (1):31-74 (2010)
Evolutionary biology – or, more precisely, two (purported) applications of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, namely, evolutionary psychology and what has been called human behavioral biology – is on the cusp of becoming the new rage among legal scholars looking for interdisciplinary insights into the law. We argue that as the actual science stands today, evolutionary biology offers nothing to help with questions about legal regulation of behavior. Only systematic misrepresentations or lack of understanding of the relevant biology, together with far-reaching analytical and philosophical confusions, have led anyone to think otherwise. Evolutionary accounts are etiological accounts of how a trait evolved. We argue that an account of causal etiology could be relevant to law if (1) the account of causal etiology is scientifically well-confirmed, and (2) there is an explanation of how the well-confirmed etiology bears on questions of development (what we call the Environmental Gap Objection). We then show that the accounts of causal etiology that might be relevant are not remotely well-confirmed by scientific standards. We argue, in particular, that (a) evolutionary psychology is not entitled to assume selectionist accounts of human behaviors, (b) the assumptions necessary for the selectionist accounts to be true are not warranted by standard criteria for theory choice, and (c) only confusions about levels of explanation of human behavior create the appearance that understanding the biology of behavior is important. We also note that no response to the Environmental Gap Objection has been proffered. In the concluding section of the article, we turn directly to the work of Owen Jones, a leading proponent of the relevance of evolutionary biology to law, and show that he does not come to terms with any of the fundamental problems identified in this article
|Keywords||Philosophy Logic Political Science Social Sciences, general Law Theory/Law Philosophy Philosophy of Law|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
John Hasnas, Robert Prentice & Alan Strudler (2010). New Directions in Legal Scholarship. Business Ethics Quarterly 20 (3):503-531.
Hendrik Gommer (2012). The Biological Essence of Law. Ratio Juris 25 (1):59-84.
Arthur Dyevre (2014). Law and the Evolutionary Turn: The Relevance of Evolutionary Psychology for Legal Positivism. Ratio Juris 27 (3):364-386.
Similar books and articles
Olle Häggström (2007). Intelligent Design and the NFL Theorems. Biology and Philosophy 22 (2):217-230.
V. B. Smocovitis (1992). Unifying Biology: The Evolutionary Synthesis and Evolutionary Biology. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 25 (1):1 - 65.
William S. Cooper (2001). The Evolution of Reason: Logic as a Branch of Biology. Cambridge University Press.
Michel Morange (2010). How Evolutionary Biology Presently Pervades Cell and Molecular Biology. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 41 (1):113 - 120.
David N. Stamos (1996). Popper, Falsifiability, and Evolutionary Biology. Biology and Philosophy 11 (2):161-191.
Wim J. van der Steen (1999). Methodological Problems in Evolutionary Biology. XII. Against Evolutionary Ethics. Acta Biotheoretica 47 (1):41-57.
Added to index2009-05-18
Total downloads77 ( #54,628 of 1,902,204 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #346,051 of 1,902,204 )
How can I increase my downloads?