Vaulting Ambition: Sociobiology and the Quest for Human Nature

by Philip Kitcher
Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1987. 470 pages.

Published in 1985, Vaulting Ambition sought to "explain as clearly as possible what sociobiology is, how it relates to evolutionary theory, and how the ambitious claims that have attracted so much public attention rest on shoddy analysis and flimsy arguments." While acknowledging the scientific contributions of sociobiology, Kitcher, a philosopher of science (and Supporter of NCSE), castigated what he called "pop" sociobiology for a lack of evidential and theoretical rigor. Such a lack is particularly important, he writes, because "the true political problem with socially relevant science is that the grave consequences of error enforce the need for higher standards of evidence."