Sense and Nonsense: Evolutionary perspectives on human behaviour

Paperback | May 7, 2011

byKevin N. Laland, Gillian R. Brown

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Evolutionary theory is one of the most wide-ranging and inspiring of scientific ideas. It offers a battery of methods that can be used to interpret human behaviour. But the legitimacy of this exercise is at the centre of a heated controversy that has raged for over a century. Many evolutionarybiologists, anthropologists and psychologists are optimistic that evolutionary principles can be applied to human behaviour, and have offered evolutionary explanations for a wide range of human characteristics, such as homicide, religion and sex differences in behaviour. Others are sceptical ofthese interpretations. Moreover, researchers disagree as to the best ways to use evolution to explore humanity, and a number of schools have emerged. Sense and Nonsense provides an introduction to the ideas, methods and findings of five such schools, namely, sociobiology, human behavioural ecology, evolutionary psychology, cultural evolution, and gene-culture co-evolution. In this revised and updated edition of their successful monograph, Lalandand Brown provide a balanced, rigorous analysis that scrutinizes both the evolutionary arguments and the allegations of the critics, carefully guiding the reader through the mire of confusing terminology, claim and counter-claim, and polemical statements. This readable and informative introductorybook will be of use to undergraduate and postgraduate students (for example, in psychology, anthropology and zoology), to experts on one approach who would like to know more about the other perspectives, and to lay-persons interested in evolutionary explanations of human behaviour. Having completedthis book, the reader should feel better placed to assess the legitimacy of claims made about human behaviour under the name of evolution, and to make judgements as to what is sense and what is nonsense.

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Evolutionary theory is one of the most wide-ranging and inspiring of scientific ideas. It offers a battery of methods that can be used to interpret human behaviour. But the legitimacy of this exercise is at the centre of a heated controversy that has raged for over a century. Many evolutionarybiologists, anthropologists and psychologis...

Kevin N. Laland is Professor of Behavioural and Evolutionary Biology at the University of St Andrews. His research encompasses a range of topics related to animal behaviour and evolution, particularly social learning, gene-culture coevolution, and niche construction. He has published 6 books and over 160 articles on these topics and ha...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:May 7, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199586969

ISBN - 13:9780199586967

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Table of Contents

1. Sense and nonsense2. A history of evolution and human behaviour3. Human sociobiology4. Human behavioural ecology5. Evolutionary psychology6. Cultural evolution7. Gene-culture coevolution8. Comparing and integrating approachesFurther ReadingReferences

Editorial Reviews

"A welcome and incisive corrective to the disarray within evolutionary social theory." --Herbert Gintis, Human Nature Review