Culture, adaptation, and innateness

In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents (2006)

It is almost 30 years since the sociobiology controversy burst into full bloom. The modern theory of the evolution of animal behavior was born in the mid 1960’s with Bill Hamilton’s seminal papers on inclusive fitness and George William’s book Adaptation and Natural Selection. The following decade saw an avalanche of important ideas on the evolution of sex ratio, animal conflicts, parental investment, and reciprocity, setting off a revolution our understanding of animal societies, a revolution that is still going on today. By the mid-1970’s, Richard Alexander, E. O. Wilson, Napoleon Chagnon, Bill Irons, and Don Symons among others began applying these ideas to understand human behavior. Humans are evolved creatures, and quite plausibly the same evolutionary forces that shaped the behavior of other animals also molded our behavior. Moreover, the new theory of animal behavior—especially, kin selection, parental investment, and optimal foraging theory—seemed fit the data on human societies fairly well
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