Journal for General Philosophy of Science

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 341–369 | Cite as

Why Social Science is Biological Science

  • Alex RosenbergEmail author


The social sciences need to take seriously their status as divisions of biology. As such they need to recognize the central role of Darwinian processes in all the phenomena they seek to explain. An argument for this claim is formulated in terms of a small number of relatively precise premises that focus on the nature of the kinds and taxonomies of all the social sciences. The analytical taxonomies of all the social sciences are shown to require a Darwinian approach to human affairs, though not a nativist or genetically driven theory by any means. Non-genetic Darwinian processes have the fundamental role on all human affairs. I expound a general account of how Darwinian processes operate in human affairs by selecting for strategies and sets of strategies individuals and groups employ. I conclude by showing how a great deal of social science can be organized in accordance with Tinbergen’s approach to biological inquiry, an approach required by the fact that the social sciences are all divisions of biology, and in particular the studies of one particular biological species.


Biology Darwinian theory Cultural evolution Strategies Packages of strategies Functions Selected effects 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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