Download Adapting Minds: Evolutionary Psychology and the Persistent by David J. Buller PDF

By David J. Buller

Was once human nature designed by way of traditional choice within the Pleistocene epoch? The dominant view in evolutionary psychology holds that it was—that our mental diversifications have been designed tens of hundreds of thousands of years in the past to unravel difficulties confronted through our hunter-gatherer ancestors. during this provocative and energetic ebook, David Buller examines intimately the key claims of evolutionary psychology—the paradigm popularized via Steven Pinker within the clean Slate and through David Buss within the Evolution of Desire—and rejects all of them. this doesn't suggest that we won't practice evolutionary conception to human psychology, says Buller, yet that the traditional knowledge in evolutionary psychology is faulty. Evolutionary psychology employs a type of opposite engineering to provide an explanation for the advanced layout of the brain, knowing the adaptive difficulties our ancestors confronted after which inferring the mental variations that developed to unravel them. within the rigorously argued principal chapters of Adapting Minds, Buller scrutinizes a number of of evolutionary psychology's so much hugely publicized "discoveries," together with "discriminative parental solicitude" (the concept that stepparents abuse their stepchildren at a better price than genetic mom and dad abuse their organic children). Drawing on a variety of empirical study, together with his personal large-scale learn of kid abuse, he indicates that none is de facto supported by means of the proof. Buller argues that our minds will not be tailored to the Pleistocene, yet, just like the immune method, are regularly adapting, over either evolutionary time and person lifetimes. We needs to movement past the reigning orthodoxy of evolutionary psychology to arrive a correct figuring out of the way human psychology is encouraged through evolution. after we do, Buller claims, we are going to abandon not just the search for human nature however the very notion of human nature itself.

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Extra resources for Adapting Minds: Evolutionary Psychology and the Persistent Quest for Human Nature

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The gene for the broad beak will thus increase in frequency in the population, as will the broad beak itself. But suppose also that the broader beak would be even more efficient at hulling seeds if it had slightly sharper edges. And suppose that there is a gene in the population that would produce sharper-edged beaks if it mutated. Of course, since mutation is random, the fact that sharper beaks would be beneficial doesn’t increase the probability that the desirable mutation will occur. Also, since mutation is random, the mutation for sharper-edged beaks is just as likely to occur in a bird without the broad beak as it is to occur in a bird with the broad beak (in whom it would be most beneficial).

But what causes evolution? As mentioned earlier, evolution can occur only if there is variation in a population. For, if evolution is change in gene or genotype frequencies, there must be at least two genotypes occurring at a particular locus in a population, the frequencies of which then get altered across generations. So, if a population is composed of organisms that are genetically identical, the only way that evolution can occur is if a new genetic variant gets introduced into the population.

But that doesn’t mean that the ultimate explanation can replace a proximate explanation. Knowing the ultimate causes of eggshell removal doesn’t give us any information about how eggshell removal gets accomplished by any individual gull. Similarly, a proximate explanation doesn’t exclude an ultimate explanation, since knowing how a particular neurophysiological mechanism causes eggshell removal doesn’t inform us about the causes of the evolution of eggshell removal. Thus, every adaptation can be explained in terms of both proximate and ultimate causes, where the former cites the immediate antecedent “mechanistic” causes and the latter cites the evolutionary causes.

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