From Biological Inhibitions to Cultural Prohibitions, or How Not to Refute Edward Westermarck

Biology and Philosophy 13 (3):413-426 (1998)
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Abstract

My aim in this paper is to take a closer look at an influential argument that purports to prove that the existence of cultural prohibitions could never be explained by biological inhibitions. The argument is two-pronged. The first prong reduces to the claim: inhibitions cannot cause prohibitions simply because inhibitions undermine the raison dêtre of prohibitions. The second strategy consists in arguing that inhibitions cannot cause prohibitions because the two differ importantly in their contents. I try to show that both claims fail.

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