Jablonka & Lamb (J&L) have presented a number of different possible mechanisms for finessing design. The extra-genetic nature of these mechanisms has led them to challenge orthodox neo-Darwinian views. However, these mechanisms are for calibration and have been designed by natural selection. As such, they add detail to our knowledge, but neo-Darwinism is sufficiently resourced to account for them.
Laland and colleagues have sought to challenge the proximate–ultimate distinction claiming that it imposes a unidirectional model of causation, is limited in its capacity to account for complex biological phenomena, and hinders progress in biology. In this article the core of their argument is critically analyzed. It is claimed that contrary to their claims Laland et al. rely upon the proximate–ultimate distinction to make their points and that their alternative conception of reciprocal causation refers to phenomena that were already accounted (...) for by standard theory. (shrink)
To properly understand behavior, we must obtain both ultimate and proximate explanations. Put briefly, ultimate explanations are concerned with why a behavior exists, and proximate explanations are concerned with how it works. These two types of explanation are complementary and the distinction is critical to evolutionary explanation. We are concerned that they have become conflated in some areas of the evolutionary literature on human behavior. This article brings attention to these issues. We focus on three specific areas: the evolution of (...) cooperation, transmitted culture, and epigenetics. We do this to avoid confusion and wasted effort—dangers that are particularly acute in interdisciplinary research. Throughout this article, we suggest ways in which misunderstanding may be avoided in the future. (shrink)
Social constructionism is a broad position that emphasizes the importance of human social processes in psychology. These processes are generally associated with language and the ability to construct stories that conform to the emergent rules of "language games". This view allows one to espouse a variety of critical postures with regard to realist commitments within the social and behavioural sciences, ranging from outright relativism to a more moderate respect for the "barrier" that linguistic descriptions can place between us and reality. (...) This paper first outlines some possible social construction-ist viewpoints and then goes on to show how each of them conforms to the basic principles of information theory. After establishing this relation the paper then argues that this leads to a great deal of commonality between social construction-ist positions and the baseline aims of cognitive science. Finally, the paper argues that, if information theory is held in common, this both suggests future research collaborations and helps to "mop up" some of the arguments surrounding realist commitments. (shrink)
Niche construction refers to the activities of organisms that bring about changes in their environments, many of which are evolutionarily and ecologically consequential. Advocates of niche construction theory (NCT) believe that standard evolutionary theory fails to recognize the full importance of niche construction, and consequently propose a novel view of evolution, in which niche construction and its legacy over time (ecological inheritance) are described as evolutionary processes, equivalent in importance to natural selection. Here, we subject NCT to critical evaluation, in (...) the form of a collaboration between one prominent advocate of NCT, and a team of skeptics. We discuss whether niche construction is an evolutionary process, whether NCT obscures or clarifies how natural selection leads to organismal adaptation, and whether niche construction and natural selection are of equivalent explanatory importance. We also consider whether the literature that promotes NCT overstates the significance of niche construction, whether it is internally coherent, and whether it accurately portrays standard evolutionary theory. Our disagreements reflect a wider dispute within evolutionary theory over whether the neo-Darwinian synthesis is in need of reformulation, as well as different usages of some key terms (e.g., evolutionary process). (shrink)
Human beings persist in an extraordinary range of ecological settings, in the process exhibiting enormous behavioural diversity, both within and between populations. People vary in their social, mating and parental behaviour and have diverse and elaborate beliefs, traditions, norms and institutions. The aim of this theme issue is to ask whether, and how, evolutionary theory can help us to understand this diversity. In this introductory article, we provide a background to the debate surrounding how best to understand behavioural diversity using (...) evolutionary models of human behaviour. In particular, we examine how diversity has been viewed by the main subdisciplines within the human evolutionary behavioural sciences, focusing in particular on the human behavioural ecology, evolutionary psychology and cultural evolution approaches. In addition to differences in focus and methodology, these subdisciplines have traditionally varied in the emphasis placed on human universals, ecological factors and socially learned behaviour, and on how they have addressed the issue of genetic variation. We reaffirm that evolutionary theory provides an essential framework for understanding behavioural diversity within and between human populations, but argue that greater integration between the subfields is critical to developing a satisfactory understanding of diversity. (shrink)
Andrews et al. present a form of instrumental adaptationism that is designed to test the hypothesis that a given trait is an adaptation. This epistemological commitment aims to make clear statements about behavioural natural kinds. The instrumental logic is sound, but it is the limits of our empirical imagination that can cause problems for theory construction.
The plasticity of the genome complicates genetic causation but should be investigated from a functional perspective. Specific adaptive hypotheses are referenced in the target article, but it is also necessary to explain how the integrity of the genome is maintained despite processes that tend towards its diversification and degradation. These include the accumulation of deleterious changes and intragenomic conflict.
What is the status of the dichotomy proposed and the nosological validity of the contrasting pathologies described in the target article? How plausibly can dysregulated imprinting explain the array of features described, compared with other genetic models? We believe that considering alternative models is more likely to lead in the long term to the correct classification and explanation of the component behaviours.
Schmitt has equivocated about the underlying psychology of sociosexuality, but from the data presented in the target article, it would appear that he has drawn out the underlying cognitive architecture. In this commentary, I describe this architecture and discuss two emerging hypotheses about heterosexual and homosexual male sociosexuality.
This commentary takes issue with Corballis's claim to have presented a falsifiable hypothesis. It argues that Corballis has instead presented a framework of weak inferences that, although unfalsifiable, might help to constrain future theory-building.
We add to Archer's review with mention of sexual orientation differences in aggression and empathy, which suggest a biological basis for the mediating role of empathy. We also note that Archer's view of sex differences will illuminate discussion of conduct disorder, which can only be of help to researchers in this field.
It might reasonably be argued that this question is one of those historical problems which form excellent subjects for the writing of essays, but which are far too complex to admit of a decisive answer, and consequently are much better left alone. No one man is responsible for a war between great powers, and the motives which influence the vast number of people, whose consent is necessary, can rarely, if ever, be identical. It is therefore comparatively easy to argue against (...) any given motive which is asserted to be the one and only reason. Certainly the writer would make no effort to rake up the ashes of this controversy, were it not that in Dr. Grundy's recent work on Thucydides a new and ingenious theory is put forward concerning the vera causa of the Peloponnesian War. (shrink)
Over the last three decades, the application of evolutionary theory to the human sciences has shown remarkable growth. This growth has also been characterised by a ‘splitting’ process, with the emergence of distinct sub-disciplines, most notably: Human Behavioural Ecology (HBE), Evolutionary Psychology (EP) and studies of Cultural Evolution (CE). Multiple applications of evolutionary ideas to the human sciences are undoubtedly a good thing, demonstrating the usefulness of this approach to human affairs. Nevertheless, this fracture has been associated with considerable tension, (...) a lack of integration, and sometimes outright conflict between researchers. In recent years however, there have been clear signs of hope that a synthesis of the human evolutionary behavioural sciences is underway. Here, we briefly review the history of the debate, both its theoretical and practical causes; then provide evidence that the field is currently becoming more integrated, as the traditional boundaries between sub-disciplines become blurred. This article constitutes the first paper under the new editorship of the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, which aims to further this integration by explicitly providing a forum for integrated work. (shrink)
Coall & Hertwig (C&H) demonstrate the importance of grandparents to children, even in low fertility societies. We suggest policy-makers interested in reproductive timing in such contexts should be alerted to the practical applications of this cooperative breeding framework. The presence or absence of a supportive kin network could help explain why some women begin their reproductive careers or.
In this commentary we outline perceptual control theory and suggest this as a fruitful way for Lee and Schwarz to fully embody their account of cleansing behavior. Moreover, we take issue with the command control approach that L&S have taken seeing this as an unnecessary cognitive commitment within an embodied model of cleansing behavior.
Locke & Bogin (L&B) rightly point to the absence of ontogeny in theories of language evolution. However, they overly rely upon ontogenetic data to isolate components of the language faculty. Only an adaptationist analysis, of the sort seen in evolutionary psychology, can carve language at its joints and lead to testable predictions about how language works.
We investigate whether enforcement is influenced by politics by comparing the severity of PCAOB sanctions of individual CPAs to the severity of related state-level disciplinary actions imposed by boards of accountancy. Our results provide evidence that when responding to PCAOB sanctions, BOAs under Republican regimes impose less severe penalties than do BOAs under Democratic regimes. Our data and analyses inform the regulatory and enforcement practices of the accounting profession and other professions. Most directly, motivated by improvements in technology that facilitate (...) the cross-jurisdiction practice of public accounting, states have adopted mobility laws where CPAs are only required to be licensed in their state of residence to practice in multiple states. These laws simplify licensing but may complicate enforcement. Beyond generalized red-state, blue-state differences in enforcement, we find that non-resident CPAs receive less severe disciplinary actions. If not reasonably consistent across BOAs, regulators may be unwilling to delegate responsibility for enforcement to another state’s BOA. (shrink)
It is a pleasure for me to give this opening address to the Royal Institute of Philosophy Conference on ‘Explanation’ for two reasons. The first is that it is succeeded by exciting symposia and other papers concerned with various special aspects of the topic of explanation. The second is that the conference is being held in my old alma mater , the University of Glasgow, where I did my first degree. Especially due to C. A. Campbell and George Brown there (...) was in the Logic Department a big emphasis on absolute idealism, especially F. H. Bradley. My inclinations were to oppose this line of thought and to espouse the empiricism and realism of Russell, Broad and the like. Empiricism was represented in the department by D. R. Cousin, a modest man who published relatively little, but who was of quite extraordinary philosophical acumen and lucidity, and by Miss M. J. Levett, whose translation of Plato's Theaetetus formed an important part of the philosophy syllabus. (shrink)
This essay is written on the following premises and argues for them. “Enlightenment” is a word or signifier, and not a single or unifiable phenomenon which it consistently signifies. There is no single or unifiable phenomenon describable as “the Enlightenment,” but it is the definite article rather than the noun which is to be avoided. In studying the intellectual history of the late seventeenth century and the eighteenth, we encounter a variety of statements made, and assumptions proposed, to which the (...) term “Enlightenment” may usefully be applied, but the meanings of the term shift as we apply it. The things are connected, but not continuous; they cannot be reduced to a single narrative; and we find ourselves using the word “Enlightenment” in a family of ways and talking about a family of phenomena, resembling and related to one another in a variety of ways that permit of various generalizations about them. We are not, however, committed to a single root meaning of the word “Enlightenment,” and we do not need to reduce the phenomena of which we treat to a single process or entity to be termed “the” Enlightenment. It is a reification that we wish to avoid, but the structure of our language is such that this is difficult, and we will find ourselves talking of “the French” or “the Scottish,” “the Newtonian” or the “the Arminian” Enlightenments, and hoping that by employing qualifying adjectives we may constantly remind ourselves that the keyword “Enlightenment” is ours to use and should not master us. (shrink)
While it is generally accepted that we need to use our intelligence in order to get what we want, it is thought to be a cardinal error to imagine that by reasoning we can discover what we ought to want. Reason can in no way constrain the choice of ends, it can only constrain the choice of means once an end has been adopted. In Plato's philosophy we find a view strongly opposed to this attitude towards reason. It is widely (...) held, however, that to arrive at a position which is plainly opposed to common sense, Plato must have grossly confused reasoning about means with reasoning about ends. Evidence of this confusion is found in Plato's use of analogies between statecraft and navigation, and between virtue and skill. But the diagnosis of confusion rests on a misunderstanding of how Plato wanted to use the word translated ‘skill’, i.e. ‘ technē ’, and this misunderstanding is shared even by those who see Plato as rejecting the virtue/skill analogy. (shrink)
It is characteristic of realists to separate ontology from epistemology and of idealists to mix the two things up. By ‘idealists’ here I am mainly referring to the British neo-Hegelians but the charge of mixing up ontology and epistemology can be made against at least one ‘subjective idealist’, namely Bishop Berkeley, as his wellknown dictum ‘esse ispercipi’ testifies. The objective idealists rejected the correspondence theory of truth and on the whole accepted a coherence theory. The qualification is needed here because (...) H. H. Joachim, in The Nature of Truth, found the coherence theory unable to deal with the problem of error. (shrink)