How (not) to bring psychology and biology together

Philosophical Studies 172 (4):949-967 (2015)

Authors
Abstract
Evolutionary psychologists often try to “bring together” biology and psychology by making predictions about what specific psychological mechanisms exist from theories about what patterns of behaviour would have been adaptive in the EEA for humans. This paper shows that one of the deepest methodological generalities in evolutionary biology—that proximate explanations and ultimate explanations stand in a many-to-many relation—entails that this inferential strategy is unsound. Ultimate explanations almost never entail the truth of any particular proximate hypothesis. But of course it does not follow that there are no other ways of “bringing together” biology and psychology. Accordingly, this paper explores one other strategy for doing just that, the pursuit of a very specific kind of consilience. However, I argue that inferences reflecting the pursuit of this kind of consilience with the best available theories in contemporary evolutionary biology indicate that psychologists should have a preference for explanations of adaptive behavior in humans that refer to learning and other similarly malleable psychological mechanisms—and not modules or instincts or any other kind of relatively innate and relatively non-malleable psychological mechanism
Keywords Evolutionary perspective  Ultimate explanations  Proximate explanations  Consilience  Evolutionary psychology
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2015
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s11098-014-0297-9
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

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

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
The Modularity of Mind.Robert Cummins & Jerry Fodor - 1985 - Philosophical Review 94 (1):101.
The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition.M. Tomasello - 1999 - Harvard University Press.

View all 11 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Causes, Proximate and Ultimate.Richard C. Francis - 1990 - Biology and Philosophy 5 (4):401-415.
How to Pursue the Adaptationist Program in Psychology.Russil Durrant & Brian D. Haig - 2001 - Philosophical Psychology 14 (4):357 – 380.
The Logical Skeleton of Darwin's Historical Methodology.Mary B. Williams - 1986 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1986:514 - 521.
Are Probabilities Necessary for Evolutionary Explanations?André Ariew - 1998 - Biology and Philosophy 13 (2):245-253.
Anorexia Nervosa.Vicki K. Condit - 1990 - Human Nature 1 (4):391-413.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2014-02-23

Total views
277 ( #23,956 of 2,285,714 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
35 ( #26,323 of 2,285,714 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature