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Scientists tend to be a bit insecure about their position in society. Nowhere is this more evident than in the decades-old sociobiology debate, and behavioral scientist John Alcock tries to shore up his side against the sometimes hysterical opposition in The Triumph of Sociobiology. Inevitably, the book is somewhat defensive and apologetic, but the author explains himself and his field well and will convince most readers that studying the evolution of behavior is no more controversial than any other aspect of evolution. Between charming, engaging tales of field study and intriguing analyses of the chief arguments against sociobiology, Alcock disarms the reader's natural discomfort with the topic and makes his case clearly.
Humans have not always had all the cultural accouterments of Hutus or Englishmen. At one time not so many million years ago, our ancestors could make only rudimentary tools while surely communicating in a far less sophisticated manner than we do currently. The immense increase in brain size over the last million or so years must have had profound consequences for our capacity to learn and acquire our culture. If you accept the less-than-revolutionary assumption that brains are necessary for learned behavior, then past selection on hominids that varied in their capacity for culture is a certainty.
But doesn't sociobiology justify rape, racism, and genocide? Not so fast, says Alcock. Just because behavior has a natural explanation, that doesn't make it moral. It would seem that those who want to prevent this sort of behavior would be keenly interested in understanding why it manifests, but often the opposite case pertains. Through gentle dissection of the differences between scientific and ethical knowledge, Alcock shows that we can use them to complement each other. The Triumph of Sociobiology takes time and care to examine all the claims made against the field, both political and scientific, and ends up making a strong case for deeper research. --Rob Lightner -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe.
"A clear, evocative, and accurate account of the history and content on the subject, inviting to the student and the general reader alike."-Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University "It doesn't matter whether you call it sociobiology, behavioral ecology, evolutinoary psychology or even selfish genery, John Alcock shows that triumph is exactly the right word. It is a field of research in its mature growing season, with new young scientists flocking to join in. Alcock captures the active spirit of this once-controversial subject perfectly."-Richard Dawkins, Oxford University "This book rights some of the intellectual wrongs that have r s2 perpetrated on sociobiology and certain of its practitioners by individuals who either do not understand what sociobiologists really are saying or who have subverted the truth in pursuit of their own agendas. Not everyone will agree with Alcock's conclusions, but everyone will have to reckon with them-to the delight of the sociobiologists and the chagrin of their critics."-Paul W. Sherman, Cornell University "Darwinist heavyweight Alcock understands what's at stake in evolution as well as any scientist living... The author argues against the competing blank-slate 'culture is all' theory, and he dispels the misconception that sociobiology is in any way an ideological endorsement of racism, sexism or the social dominance of the rich over the poor... This is an important and necessary reappraisal of humankind's place in the Darwinist puzzle-one that will undoubtedly provoke renewed debate."-Publishers WeeklyAlle Produktbeschreibungen