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What´S Evolutionary Psychology? Essay

2743 words - 11 pages

Evolutionary Psychology has been controversial since its rise in the 1990s, with critics and proponents debating its merits as a science. While critics (e.g. David Buller, Elizabeth Lloyd) have extensively criticized the fundamentals of Evolutionary Psychology, few philosophers or scientists have challenged them. Given the growing influence of the evolutionary behavioral sciences within mainstream science like Psychology and Anthropology, it is important analyze the critiques and see if the arguments against Evolutionary Psychology have merit. This paper will focus on two of the most often cited critiques of Evolutionary Psychology: the critique of the concept of the modular model of the ...view middle of the document...

Moreover, if you dismantle this foundation, the entire enterprise of Evolutionary Psychology will fall. However, massive modularity and adaptation to novel environments are two central debates, not dogmas, in Evolutionary Psychology. To examine the merits of such a claim, it is important to look at what leading Evolutionary Psychologist David Buss says on the subject. First, the idea that “humans must possess a large number of specialized psychological mechanisms, each dedicated to solving specific adaptive problems,” Buss says, is “widely accepted within the field of evolutionary psychology and indeed lies at the foundation of evolutionary approaches” (Buss 2004, 56). However, Buss quotes several evolutionary psychologists who have “recently argued that in addition to these specific mechanisms humans also have evolved several domain-general mechanisms” (Buss 2004, 56). Buss’s list of such general-purpose processes includes “intelligence, concept formation, analogical reasoning, working memory, and classical conditioning” (Buss 2004, 56). Finally, Buss notes that we “routinely solve ancient adaptive problems in highly novel ways” and that “everyone recognizes that humans have been able to flourish in an environment very different from that in which we evolved” (Buss 2004, 56). While he concludes that the specificity–generality debate remains an open question, Buss emphasizes that no evolutionary psychologist has ever claimed that any neurocognitive blocks seal off domain-specific modules from each other. Rather, discovering “the precise nature of information sharing” between modules lies at the cutting edge of research (Buss 2004, 57). If fact, researchers are hard at work trying to solve the specificity–generality debate within Evolutionary Psychology and the Philosophy of Science. For example, Rice (2011) examines Peter Caruthers’s research on how a pervasively modular mind might generate non-domain-specific thoughts by integrating the content produced by various domain-specific modules. Rice (2011) argues that Caruthers is incorrect in his interpretation of the available data. Clearly there is a debate within Evolutionary Psychology that is contributing to greater understanding of the modular mind by philosophers and scientists. Given what one of the most prominent founders of Evolutionary Psychology has said, clearly massive modularity and the adaption to novel environments are not “dogma” as promoted by critics of Evolutionary Psychology, but rather central concepts that are still under debate within the field.
The Cinderella Effect
Evolutionary psychologists Martin Daly and Margot Wilson have spent their academic careers studying the behavior of nurturing from an evolutionary viewpoint. Based on the theory of evolution by natural selection put forward by Darwin, the researchers hypothesized a “Cinderella Effect,” where children living with non-biological parents would be far more likely to be abused than children living with both genetic...

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