April 15, 2016 at 8:16 am #109827Young Master SmeetParticipant
I'm not sure Wrangham and Glowaki are comparing us genetically to Chimpanzees, but looking at the evolutionary context (and evinced human behaviours compared with Chimpanzees behaviours). At the level of the paper it is presented as an explanatory model, involving a social context of achephalous fissiparous groups. For example:Quote:An important implication of the chimpanzee model is that if both chimpanzees and humans evolved a tendency to kill members of other groups in safe contexts, the evolutionary psychology of both species should be the same with respect to risk-taking in intergroup aggression. Therefore if humans take more self-sacrificial risks in intergroup aggression than chimpanzees do, the difference is cultural rather than biological. We call this inference the “cultural war-risk hypothesis.”
andQuote:Because this paper focuses on adaptive significance it could in theory be based on data from any species that kills members of neighboring groups in a manner conforming to the imbalance-of-power hypothesis, such as wolves (Canis lupus) appearto do (Mech et al.1998). In practice, however, chimpanzees offer an especially valuable heuristic system not only because their pattern of killing has prompted an explanatory model but also because, like humans but unlike wolves, their groups contain many breeding males. Note that the focus on adaptation rather than phylogeny means that the question of whether the last common ancestor of humans and living apes behaved more like chimpanzees (Wrangham and Pilbeam 2001 )or bonobos (Pan paniscus: de Waal1998) is irrelevant to this paper.April 15, 2016 at 8:31 am #109830Young Master SmeetParticipant
Oh, and this is a useful quote:Quote:Following Bowles (2009) we use “war” to mean relationships in which coalitions of members of a group seek to inflict bodily harm on one or more members of another group; “groups” are independent political units. This definition is broader than many because it includes all kinds of fighting, whether in a surprise attack (raid or ambush), chance meeting, or planned battle. We distinguish “simple” from “complex” war (cf. Kelly 2005 ; Otterbein 2004 ; van der Dennen 2007). Simple (or “primitive”) warfare is a style found in small-scale hunter-gatherer and farmer societies whose communities are not integrated with each other by any political officials. It is dominated by raiding and feuding, is often motivated by revenge, and has few lethal battles, where battles are escalated conflicts between prepared opponents. Complex warfare, by contrast, also sometimes called “real warfare,” “true warfare,” or “ warfare above the military horizon” (Turney-High 1949), occurs in larger societies containing political hierarchies. It includes lethal battles fought by soldiers under orders from leaders, and its goals are typically conquest and/or subjugation. It has no known analogues in chimpanzees or other nonhumans.April 15, 2016 at 8:02 pm #109831
I'm not really concerned with particular arguments, especially from people like Wrangham who are case hardened class warriors, but with the argument from genetic closeness. But on the face of it, this sounds even less coherent than any such theory. Evolutionary psychology, particularly of the Tooby/Cosmides variety, is an idealist fairy land in my view. I have far more respect for the sociobiologists who despite coming up initially with some pretty simplisitic theories, at least have a sound materialist base to their arguments.April 16, 2016 at 12:07 pm #109832AnonymousInactive
"We are the only ape whose social relationships are based on trust. And that has enormous consequences for our social behaviour. Drawing simple parallels with chimps just doesn't make sense. We are the only ape, for instance, in which males provision the females and take a share in child rearing.""We are the only ape which has voluntary control over our tongue in vocalisations.""A chimpanzee for instance has no choice but to make food or predator calls given the right stimulus. We have choice in our communications. Our adaptation therefore is for enormously greater social complexity."I would question these statements. I would suggest a reading of Jane Goodall, Marc Bekoff, Carl Sagan and Jeffrey Masson. These statements smack of the "free will" myth, by which humans frantically hold on to "specialness" contrasted with other species. The things we do are the things we do. However, I`m pleased to see you correctly refer to us as apes – which is what we are . The social complexity of other, fellow, animals (including other fellow apes) is still mostly beyond our understanding.April 16, 2016 at 12:11 pm #109833AnonymousInactive
By the way, (see the new book BEASTS by J. Masson), humans are the only animal, with rare exceptions (chimps, under specific and rare conditions; likewise ants) that seems unable to hold back from mutual destruction or utter destruction of an opponent. Other species demonstrate this ability, and fights very seldom lead to death; most fights stop at the ritualistic. Only humans seem determined to go beyond this and utterly destroy an opponent – and regularly so!April 17, 2016 at 2:41 pm #109834AnonymousInactive
Hi Hud955I see that in your opinion evolutionary psychology (EP) is an idealist fairy land.I think there is more to it than that.I came across the following write up by Jerry Coyne (Jerry A. Coyne, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago.)He is a critic of EP who believes the field has matured.Quote:Is evolutionary psychology worthless?There’s been a lot of kerfuffle on the intertubes about the value of evolutionary psychology, the field that studies the evolutionary roots of human thought, language, and behavior. I want to weigh in here with my answer to the question posed in the title, and my answer is, “Certainly not!”Now I am known as a critic of evolutionary psychology, and I have been quite critical. For example, I’ve published two scathing critiques (one with Andrew Berry) of Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer’s unfounded theories of the adaptive significance of rape (see references below). I have gone after the popular distortions of evolutionary psychology that appear in the press or books (e.g., my comments on David Brooks’s New Yorker article “Social animal”—an article subsequently turned into a dreadful book). And I have criticized some evolutionary psychologists for failing to police the speculative excesses of their colleagues. But I’ve never maintained that the entire field is worthless, nor do I think that now. In fact, there’s some good stuff in it, and it’s getting better.I have seen evolutionary psychology begin to mature with its criticisms and disclaimers of its more radical exponents (e.g., Satoshi Kanazawa), and its increasing concentration on evidence and testability rather than just storytelling. Although I don’t keep up with it as much as I once did, I do teach some of it in my introductory evolution class. I have to admit, though, that as the field has evolved, I’ve become less critical of it as a whole. That is, I think, as it should be!…………..And as for academic, as opposed to popular, evolutionary psychology: before you dismiss it whole hog, do me the favor of reading this 2010 paper in American Psychologist by Jaime C. Confer et al. (download free at link; reference below). It’s an evenhanded exposition of the state of modern evolutionary psychology, how it works, what kinds of standards it uses, responses to some common criticisms (e.g., “we don’t know the genes involved”), and, for the critics, examples of evo-psych hypotheses that have been falsified. (One example of a falsified theory is the old “kin selection” argument for the prevalence of homosexuality: the idea that homosexuals, though not reproducing themselves, stayed home and perpetuated their genes by taking care of their relatives.)If you can read the Confer et al. paper and still dismiss the entire field as worthless, or as a mere attempt to justify scientists’ social prejudices, then I’d suggest your opinions are based more on ideology than judicious scientific inquiry.……..Anyway, those who dismiss evolutionary psychology on the grounds that it’s mere “storytelling” are not aware of how the field operates these days. And, if they are to be consistent, they must also dismiss any studies of the evolutionary basis of animal behavior. Yes, there’s some dirty bathwater in evolutionary psychology, but there’s also a baby in there!
https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/is-evolutionary-psychology-worthless/The paper Coyne invites you to read can be found here:http://labs.la.utexas.edu/buss/files/2015/09/evolutionary_psychology_AP_2010.pdfIt addresses the following questions:1. Can evolutionary psychological hypotheses be empirically tested or falsified?2. Don’t people just solve problems using rationality? Wouldn’t one domain-general rationality mechanism be more parsimonious than postulating many domain-specific mechanisms?3. Aren’t human behaviors the result of learning and socialization, not evolution?4. How does evolutionary psychology take culture into account?5. How do recent novel environmental phenomena affect human evolutionary psychology?6. What role do genes play in the framework of evolutionary psychology?7. What is the practical value of evolutionary psychology?8. What are the limitations of evolutionary psychology?For those who are still worried about “genetic determinism”, note this on page 120 of the paper:Quote:Evolutionary psychology forcefully rejects a genetic determinism stance and instead is organized around a crisply formulated interactionist framework that invokes the role of the environment at every step of the causal process.
MeelApril 17, 2016 at 5:49 pm #109835
Hi Meel.I've read Coyne and am something of a fan. However, I have also read other writers: Eliot Sober and David J Buller, in particular. Buller is a philosopher but with a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of evolutionary biology. He is also a supporter of the evolutionary approach to understanding human behaviour. He is, however, an opponent of the fundamental suppositions and methodology of the Tooby/Cosmides school of thought with which Evolutionary Psychology is identified. In his book, 'Adapting Minds' he undertakes a minute deconstruction, point by point, of their foundational arguments as well as much of their particular research. Worth reading. Others have pointed out that the process of 'reverse engineering' on which the arguments of evolutionary psychologists heavily depend is very unreliable. As a good illustration from archaeology, we have literally tens of thousands of examples of Achulean hand axes, and yet nobody has the slightest idea what they were for or how they were used – or rather everybody has a different idea. Even without these specific arguments, for me, the idealist slant of evolutionary psychology puts it on a very dodgy foundation. CheersRichardApril 17, 2016 at 5:49 pm #109836
Hi JohnI've read Jane Goodall and Carl Sagan. I started to read 'Beasts' a couple of years ago when it first appeared but never finished it. I found it a superficial collection of data without any sound theoretical underpinnings. Masson seems to have ransaked the literature for as many examples of human depradations and ignominy as he could find without assessing them in any meaningul theoretical context. The issue is politically fraught and needs to be addressed much more carefully and thoroughly than this. The question, in my view, is not, can we find examples of human violence or 'mutual destruction' – that is all to easy – but how do we understand this. Appealing to some notion of 'human nature' as it is usually understood does not help. The concept is multiply problematic. So we need to look for other kinds of explanation. This is one of the reasons I find Wrangham so unconvincing as well. I have also read Jerome Lewis who has been developing the thesis I referred to above, and I've attended his lectures. His is an interdisciplinary view and it is relatively new, not yet well represented in the academic literature, but it is gaining ground rapidly. The evidence for it seems to me compelling, though I am no expert. Though the overall thesis is new, the research it is based on is well established and fairly uncontroversial. Among the primates, our unique capacity for intersubjectivity (our ability to interpret each others thoughts and intentions and gain a concept of ourselves through another's eye movements) has long been studied, and in a Darwinian world appears to be adaptive to our particular kind of social environment. By contrast, the private, dark-on-dark eyes of an ape obscure direction of gaze and obstruct others from gleaning the same kind of information. This too appears to be adaptive to the social relationships formed by other ape species, which in general depend much more extensively on establishing dominance hierarchies and secretive alliances. The earliest human societies, as far as we can infer the matter, were egalitarian and based on trust. No chimpanzee mother, for instance would think for one moment of trusting her offspring to another female let alone another male and would certainly not rely on a male to provision here during her pregnancy. 'Mothers and Others' by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy is the key text here. It has swept the field and established itself as the current paradigm for understanding primate (including human) relationships. None of this has anything to do with the free-will/detrminism debate. Nor do human beings have to be 'special' to be unique. Many species have features unique to themselves, and our own certainly does. This claim is not unusual and can easily be substantiated.CheersRichardApril 17, 2016 at 9:28 pm #109837AnonymousInactive
Hi RichardIf you think Buller’s 'Adapting Minds' is worth a read, I’ll put it on my list. Some reviews online are not favourable, but the best thing of course is to read it first hand and make up one’s own mind. CheersMeelApril 19, 2016 at 12:21 pm #109838AnonymousInactive
I think you should finish "Beasts" as it develops.Vampire bat mothers raise one another`s children. They are extraordinarily altruistic.April 20, 2016 at 12:31 am #109840
Hi JohnI don't think anyone is making an argument that we are geneticically close enough to vampire bats for their parenting habits to be relevant to the development of our own species. 'Altruism' or socialbility is found widely throughout nature. Rats are highly social animals, and they are very much closer to us than bats.April 20, 2016 at 12:32 am #109839
Hi Meel.Most of the negative online comments I have seen for Buller are from EP polemicists, or reviewers who clearly fail to understand the arguments he makes. Bear in mind that Buller is a philosopher and so his arguments are directed principally at the logic of EP claims, not the validity of the evidence it provides. That is enough to put some people off before he even begins. As the Tooby/Cosmides approach rests heavily on an extensive structure of conceptual argument, this approach, in my view, is perfectly valid and appropriate. That the majority of reviews are hostile is to be expected with a book like this. Naturally its publication resulted in a huge fightback by the EP establishment who responded immediately with a whole range of arguments both good and bad. Buller has responded to them in turn. If you can get through the mud-slinging, the debate is interesting and is worth investigating. Personally, the idealist presumptions of EP do little to commend it to me. Mind you, Buller is himself something of an idealist so I have to put all this in context.May 12, 2016 at 6:42 pm #109841
Followers of this thread might find this article of interesthttp://www.filmsforaction.org/news/how_huntergatherers_maintained_their_egalitarian_ways_three_complementary_theories/June 7, 2016 at 11:40 pm #109842
This news item of a small "war" or at least a raiding attack 6000 BC may be of interest to some on this threadhttp://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/07/french-archaeologists-unearth-bones-6000-year-old-neolithic-massacreMarch 13, 2017 at 4:09 am #109843
Just to pick up on this thread, this article and the research it links to may be of interest. .."…this study reveals that violence is explained by resource scarcity and not political organization…."Quote:The findings overturn one theory of violence in prehistoric societies, which said that while societies were small-scale and politically simple, their existence would have been much more peaceful than modern societies."This study provides no support for the position that violence originated with the development of more complex hunter-gatherer adaptations in the fairly recent past," the study authors write in the paper. "Instead, findings show that individuals are prone to violence in times and places of resource scarcity."
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