Biology and the Behaviour of Man

  • John Maynard Smith


Do we really need another critique of sociobiology? In general, probably not, but perhaps we need this one. Kitcher, like everyone else, approaches the problem with prejudices, but he tries harder and more successfully than most to rise above them. Prejudices are inevitable. It is natural for geneticists and evolutionary biologists to hope that their disciplines will throw new light on the human condition, and equally natural for social scientists to resist the threatened takeover. More important for many of us, previous efforts to apply biology to human affairs have too often ended up as justifications for racial, sexual and class inequalities. Kitcher, who grew up in England, has not forgotten that, in the post-war years, schoolchildren were divided at the age of eleven into sheep and goats, and that this division was justified by the leading experimental psychologists of the day. He and I share this experience — he as a tested child and I as a parent of tested children.. It has left us cautious about proposals to use biological theory to plan human institutions.


Biological Theory Inclusive Fitness Evolutionary Game Theory Class Inequality Genetic Constraint 
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© John Maynard Smith 1988

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  • John Maynard Smith

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