Dupre on Evolutionary Psychology

From: Liz Lee (EAL195@psy.soton.ac.uk)
Date: Fri Dec 05 1997 - 14:17:56 GMT


I believe that Dupre's point was that as an explanation of human
behaviour, evolutionary psychology, sociobiology, call it what you
will, is not adequate. In fact not only is it not adequate, but in
purporting to account for all aspects of, for example, human sexuality,
it is in error.

I appreciate that there is a good deal of "scientistic" rather than
"scientific" research on which it would be folly to place too much
faith, but he seemed to be saying that EP has not come up with ANY
convincing arguments. It appears to me that because there is no way (as
yet) of proving EP explanations, Dupre (and Kitcher) would have as
disregard it as an explanation at all. Isn't this similar to the UG
argument - we don't know how we do it, but since there is no other
explanation this will do to begin with?

I had some sympathy with his position until he gave an example of what
he did accept as good science (the step-parent study). Why should this
in particular be so convincing - just because it surprised him that so
many step -parents are horrid to their children? Any social worker
could have told him that, it still means that the reasons for their
behaviour need explaining, and an EP explanation of male animals being
unwilling to bring up another's offspring seems reasonable enough. I do
not think he gave enough evidence of poor procedures to throw all EP
accounts out without a second look. Or did I miss something?


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