From genes to incest taboos

Today the idea that an evolutionary approach may be fruitful for research in the social sciences is being passionately defended by some and no less passionately contested by others. The resistance to Darwinism comes mainly in two distinct varieties. The first type of criticism is based on empirical or methodological objections against the current attempts to use evolutionary considerations to throw some light on social science explananda. The other line of opposition, however, is much harder to pin down and discuss because it is fueled more by rhetoric than by argument. It defines itself, rather vaguely, as a fight against “biological reductionism” and “genetic determinism” and is often accompanied by slight (or not so slight) ideological overtones. In this chapter, I will deal only with the former (methodological) kind of criticism. But since I don’t want to leave the latter, hazily antireductionist source of opposition to biology without comments, and since I don’t know how to approach it in a serious way, let me wiggle out by presenting to you a rhymed parody, “Gene-mania,” that captures some of the more ideological criticism’s characteristic flavor.
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