Why Policymaking Should Not Be Based on Evolutionary Accounts of Human Behavior

  • Subrena E. SmithEmail author


In this chapter, I argue that evolutionary explanations are not appropriate for understanding contemporary human behavior. It follows that public policy that is concerned with human beings cannot be based on such accounts. Human behavior, I argue, is always proximately caused in specific contexts. While evolutionary accounts seek to show that extant human behavior is related to the behavior of our prehistoric ancestors, such accounts face insurmountable obstacles. I discuss some difficulties presented by the proximate/ultimate distinction as well as the challenge of individuating behaviors. On each of these fronts, there are difficulties. For these reasons and others, I argue that evolutionary accounts of human behavior cannot provide what is needed for public policymaking.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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