Human Evolution

Guns, Germs, and Steel

by Jared Diamond
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999. 494 pages.

Guns, Germs, and Steel takes on the ambitious task of explaining the development of human civilization since the Ice Age, and succeeds marvelously. Arguing that "[h]istory followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples' environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves," Jared Diamond explains the rise of the West in terms of geography and environment, debunking racially based theories. Winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, Guns, Germs, and Steel was praised by E. O.

The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture

edited by Jerome H Barkow, Leda Cosmides, and John Tooby
New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. 688 pages.

In the introduction to The Adapted Mind (published originally in 1992 and a recognized classic in the field), the editors explained, "we hope to provide a preliminary sketch of what a conceptually integrated approach to the behavioral and social sciences might look like." Their approach is premised on the existence of a universal human nature, manifest primarily as psychological mechanisms constructed by natural selection to adapt humans to the way of life of Pleistocene hunter–gatherers, and the contributors use the approach in considering such phenomena as cooperation, mating

Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind, second edition

by David Buss
Boston: Academic Internet Publishers, 2003. 128 pages.

In its first edition, Evolutionary Psychology immediately became the standard textbook for the discipline; the second edition (published in 2003) is thoroughly revised and brought up to date.

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

by Steven Pinker
New York: Penguin Books, 2003. 528 pages.

"When it comes to explaining human thought and behavior," Pinker writes in his preface, "the possibility that heredity plays any role at all still has the power to shock." In The Blank Slate, he proceeds to articulate, defend, and consider — all with his trademark humor and eye for detail — the implications of "the new view of human nature and culture" that is emerging from cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience, behavioral genetics, and evolutionary psychology. Eugenie C.

On Human Nature

by E. O. Wilson
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004. 284 pages.

From the publisher: "No one who cares about the human future can afford to ignore Edward O. Wilson's book. On Human Nature begins a new phase in the most important intellectual controversy of this generation: Is human behavior controlled by the species' biological heritage? Does this heritage limit human destiny? With characteristic pungency and simplicity of style, the author of Sociobiology challenges old prejudices and current misconceptions about the nature-nurture debate. ...

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.