Freedom and Determinism: The Gender Agenda
Which brings me to another crucial point—that I emphasize again and again in Lifelines —that is finding the right level of explanation for any phenomenon, the fundamental point of scientific method—and here I mean not just natural science, but all science. Now finally, what I find very odd about all this macho evolutionary talk, with its wild speculative finale on the meaning of life, is the extent to which in the last analysis it wants to have its cake and eat it.
We are, evolutionary psychology argues, mainly the deterministically driven products of our selfish genes and their sole interest, that of replication. All our deepest desires and emotions, our abject selfish failures, as well as our most selfless ambitions to create a more beautiful world, these are all simply shadow-play. Yet at times Steve, quite rightly, like Richard Dawkins and others, recoils from this bleak vision. Now, what I find very puzzling is to understand where this freedom comes from.
Does it fall from the sky? The trouble is, it simply does not necessarily fit in with what we know about the ways in which the human mind actually works.
Chapter 3: Freedom, women’s rights and the rise of the sexual security regime
The modern mind is characterised not by its modularity—a capacity to respond to many tasks in a fast but rigid fashion—but by its flexibility, an ability to think laterally, and to use analogy and metaphor. Philosopher David Buller, in his book Adapting Minds , makes a similar argument. In an interview about his book at Scientific American , Buller comments :. There are three foundational claims that it makes. One is that the nature of [evolutionary] adaptation is going to create massive modularity in the mind—separate mental organs functionally specialized for separate tasks.
Second, that those modules continue to be adapted to a hunter-gatherer way of life. And third, that these modules are universal and define a universal human nature. I think that all three of those claims are deeply problematic. If anything the evidence indicates that the great cognitive achievement in human evolution was cortical plasticity, which allows for rapidly adaptive changes to the environment, both across evolutionary time and [across] individual lifetimes.
So I think the theoretical foundations from which a lot of predictions get made, about what our mate preferences are going to be, or what the psychology of parental care is, are problematic because the theoretical foundation is mistaken. The plasticity of the human brain is well-documented, for example, see here , here , here and here.
Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne , author of Faith vs.
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Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible , has also long been critical of evolutionary psychology and its weak research. In commenting favorably on a Slate article about evolutionary psychology, he wrote:. I maintain my claim that much of evolutionary psychology is scientifically weak: little more than exercises in story-telling with a thin veneer of science.
I emphasize again that not every study in the field is weak or flawed: there is some good work in evolutionary psychology. But the field suffers in general from not only scientific lassitude, but a failure of its practitioners to police the discipline. When evolutionary psychology wanders into the field of gender research, the results are laughable. I am far from alone in criticizing it. One of its major flaws: it cherry-picks its research, for example, on the issue of rape. Most evolutionary psychologists only cite other evolutionary psychologists when in fact the vast majority of actual research on rape is done by social psychologists and anthropologists like Peggy Sanday.
Sanday did a study of over cultures, past and present, which was published in the prestigious academic publication, The Journal of Social Issues , published by the American Psychological Association. She found cultures where rape was virtually nonexistent, which of course flies in the face of evolutionary psychology theory, which suggests that rape is genetically adaptive.
The difference between rape-prone and rape-free societies was their attitudes toward women. In the latter, women were regarded equally with men and violence was disapproved of for both men and women. Sure enough, in Better Angels , almost all the evidence cited about rape is from other evolutionary psychologists.
Sanday is not mentioned.
This is cheating. In regard to rape, one of the authors, Victoria L. The book A ttitudes Toward Rape: Feminist and Social Psychological Perspectives by Colleen Ward, for example, notes that rapists hold women responsible for rape and are more accepting of the myths about rape than nonrapists.
Yuval Noah Harari: the myth of freedom
Dupre also criticizes the evolutionary psychology arguments about rape in his book The Evolutionary Psychology of Sex and Gender. Reinventing Philosophy of Religion. The Promise of 'Kingdom Come'. Renewing Philosophy of Religion. Paul Draper.
Freedom in a Fishbowl
Ethnic Universality - The Next Totalitarianism. The Father Omega Sextet. Alpha and Omega. The Community of Man and Woman. Christopher Alan Anderson. Contemporary Philosophical Theology.
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Exploring the Philosophy of Religion. David Stewart. Joshua Ramey. Jesus - A Summing Up. The Kingdom of the Soul. Revelationary Afterthoughts. Towards the Supernoumenon. The High-Way of Truth. Opus Postscriptum. The Core of the Self. From Superfluous Man to Superman. Between Truth and Illusion. Devil and God. Lamb and Anti-Lion. The Transcendental Future. A Perfect Resolution. Omeganotes of an Ideological Philosopher. Stations of the Supercross.
Radical Progress. The Quest for Truth. The Apocalypso Quartet. Stairway to Judgement. Ultranotes from Beyond. From Satan to Saturn. Insane But Not Mad. Deistic Deliverance. The Way of Evolution. Beyond Imagination. The Best of All Possible Worlds. The Dialectics. The Myth of Equality. The Triumph of Being. Celestial City and Anti-Vanity Fair. Valuations of a Social Transcendentalist.
The Soul of Being. The Last Judgement.