Beyond Biofatalism: Human Nature for an Evolving World

Hardcover | October 13, 2015

byGillian Barker

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Beyond Biofatalism is a lively and penetrating response to the idea that evolutionary psychology reveals human beings to be incapable of building a more inclusive, cooperative, and egalitarian society. Considering the pressures of climate change, unsustainable population growth, increasing income inequality, and religious extremism, this attitude promises to stifle the creative action we require before we even try to meet these threats.

Beyond Biofatalism provides the perspective we need to understand that better societies are not only possible but actively enabled by human nature. Gillian Barker appreciates the methods and findings of evolutionary psychologists, but she considers their work against a broader background to show human nature is surprisingly open to social change. Like other organisms, we possess an active plasticity that allows us to respond dramatically to certain kinds of environmental variation, and we engage in niche construction, modifying our environment to affect others and ourselves. Barker uses related research in social psychology, developmental biology, ecology, and economics to reinforce this view of evolved human nature, and philosophical exploration to reveal its broader implications. The result is an encouraging foundation on which to build better approaches to social, political, and other institutional changes that could enhance our well-being and chances for survival.

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From the Publisher

Beyond Biofatalism is a lively and penetrating response to the idea that evolutionary psychology reveals human beings to be incapable of building a more inclusive, cooperative, and egalitarian society. Considering the pressures of climate change, unsustainable population growth, increasing income inequality, and religious extremism, t...

Gillian Barker is assistant professor in the Rotman Institute of Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario. She has also taught at Indiana University, Simon Fraser University, and Bucknell University. She is the author, with Philip Kitcher, of Philosophy of Science: A New Introduction, and editor, with Eric Desjardins and Trevor...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:176 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.98 inPublished:October 13, 2015Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231171889

ISBN - 13:9780231171885

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Human Nature and the Limits of Human Possibility2. The Cost of Change3. Thinking About Change and Stability in Living Systems4. Lessons from Development, Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology5. Human Possibilities6. Valuing Change7. Choosing Environments8. What Is Feasible?9. Evolutionary Psychology and Human PossibilitiesNotesReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

An original and provocative book evaluating the potential for evolutionary psychology to guide social policy... Philosophers, please read this book.