You are here

The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology

by Robert Wright
New York: Vintage Books, 1994. 496 pages.

In The Moral Animal, the popular science journalist Robert Wright — author of Three Scientists and Their Gods: Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information and Non-Zero: The Logic of Human Destiny — turns his attention to the new science of evolutionary psychology. Summarizing and synthesizing a wealth of state-of-the art scientific information, Wright provocatively argues that human moral behavior was — and is — largely shaped by our adaptation to the ancestral environment.

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

by David J. Buller
Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2005. 564 pages.

Buller, a philosopher of science, takes on evolutionary psychology, arguing that the conventional wisdom of the field is misguided: human minds are not adapted to the Pleistocene; rather, they are continually adapting, both over evolutionary time and within individual lifetimes. Elliott Sober writes, "Buller's critique of evolutionary psychology is measured, logical, and clearly developed. It is also devastating. Buller does not seek to refute the entirety of evolutionary psychology by finding a single magic bullet.

Why We Do It: Rethinking Sex and the Selfish Gene

by Niles Eldredge
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005. 224 pages.

Assaulting evolutionary psychology at one of its apparent strongholds — sexuality — Eldredge argues that life is not wholly driven by the gene's need to replicate itself. At least as important, he contends, is staying alive: he writes, "Sex is so clearly separated from pure reproduction in humans — and there is so much interplay between sex and economics, and even between economics and reproduction in human life — that this 'human triangle' of sex, reproduction, and economics makes us the very least likely creatures on the planet to conform to ...

Not By Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution

by Peter J Richerson and Robert Boyd
Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2004. 342 pages.

From the publisher: "Not by Genes Alone offers a radical interpretation of human evolution, arguing that our ecological dominance and our singular social systems stem from a psychology uniquely adapted to create complex culture. Richerson and Boyd illustrate here that culture is neither superorganic nor the handmaiden of the genes. Rather, it is essential to human adaptation, as much a part of human biology as bipedal locomotion. ...

Alas, Poor Darwin: Arguments Against Evolutionary Psychology

edited by Hilary Rose and Steven Rose
New York: Harmony Books, 2000. 346 pages.

The authors whose essays appear in Alas, Poor Darwin argue that "the claims of evolutionary psychology rest on shaky empirical evidence, flawed premises, and unexamined political presuppositions." Included are essays by Dorothy Nelkin, Charles Hencks, Gabriel Dover, Mary Midgley, Stephen Jay Gould, Hilary Rose, Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Annette Karmiloff-Smith, Patrick Bateson, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Tom Shakespeare and Mark Erickson, Ted Benton, Tim Ingold, and Steven Rose.

Sense and Nonsense: Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behaviour

by Kevin N Laland and Gillian R Brown
New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. 384 pages.

In Sense and Nonsense, Laland and Brown seek to introduce the ideas, methods, and results of the five main approaches of applying evolutionary theory to human behavior: sociobiology, human behavioral ecology, evolutionary psychology, memetics, and gene–culture evolution.

Archaeological Fantasies: How Pseudoarchaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public

edited by Garrett G. Fagin
London, UK: Falmer Press, 2006. 417 pages.

In his introduction to Archaeological Fantasies, Garrett G. Fagan writes, "Despite great advances in archaeology's investigative methods and modes of analysis — all grounded in vast quantities of verifiable evidence — a self-styled 'alternative' movement presents a nexus of often mutually exclusive and outrageous narratives as if they were viable substitutes for real knowledge about the past." The contributors to the volume — including Kenneth L. Feder, Bettina Arnold, Mary Lefkowitz, Norman Levitt, and Alan D.

Significant Others

by Craig Stanford
New York: Basic Books, 2001. 256 pages.

Stanford, a veteran field primatologist, argues "that the gap between apes and humans is very narrow indeed, and the insistence on seeing it as vast and unbridgeable is more a product of fashion and prejudice than of clear thinking." Divided into three sections, dealing with "the forces that drive the societies of great apes and other primates," "contentious questions about the connection of great ape behavior to our understanding of what people do," and "the fate of the apes." The author is professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California and codirector of the Jane Goodall R

What It Means to Be 98 Percent Chimpanzee: Apes, People, and Their Genes

by Jonathan Marks
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2003. 312 pages.

Matt Cartmill writes, "In this clever, entertaining, and thoughtful book, Marks lays out some important limitations of science in general and genetics in particular. Using terms that everybody can understand, he demolishes the pretensions of scientists who try to use genetics to answer questions about the kinship of nations, the rights of animals, the racial identity of Kennewick Man, the hereditary Jewish priesthood, and the existence of God.

Tree of Origin

edited by Frans de Waal
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002. 320 pages.

Nine primatologists — Richard W. Byrne, Robin I. M. Dunbar, William C. McGrew, Anne E. Pusey, Charles T. Snowdon, Craig B. Stanford, Karen B. Strier, and Richard W. Wrangham — consider the implications of primate behavior for understanding human evolution. Topics of the individual essays include reproduction, food and diet, tool use, intelligence, communication and language, and culture. "If you want a source that cogently discusses human intelligence in the context of the behavior of other primates," writes Ian Tattersall, "Tree of Origin is the place to turn."

Pages

Subscribe to Human Evolution