Rob Quinlan (C611417@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU)
Fri, 9 Dec 1994 13:05:09 CST

I just want to comment briefly on a couple posts. First, thank you evryone
for your thoughtful responses.

1. Langdon. I'm not sure I fully understand his comments (not that they
weren't well presented, I just don't completely get it). Of course sociobiolog
y has some problems. But I think the emperical work of sociobiologists is
among the best in social science. I would suggest Betzig et al _Human Reproduc
tive Behavior_ 1988 Cambridge as the best collection of examples. Of course
human behavior is context dependant (hence, I think, the shift to the preferred
term "behavioral ecology"), but sociobiological theories lead us to ask questio
ns about the ultimate adaptive nature of behavior in particular contexts. I
don't know of other theoretical orientations that provide that kind of generall
ity (they may exist, I may just be ignorant of them).

2. Crapo. I'd like to take credit for the words in my previous posting, but
I can't. That was an excerpt from Daly and Wilson. I think when Daly and Wils
on set up the evolution-creationism dichotomy they are talking about ultimate
explanations. What is nonsense is that learning is the ultimate explanation
of behavior. There are a lot of theories that are completely compatible w/
evolution, but they deal w/ proximate explanations. I think Jerome Barkow
gives a really good discussion of the relationship of proximate and ultimate
explanations and how they can be powerfully joined to create "vertically
integrated" explanations which deal w/ causality at multiple levels (1989
_Darwin Sex and Status:Biological approaches to mind and culture_). In no
way do I (or Daly and Wilson for that matter) equate the rest of social science
outside sociobiology w/ Jerry Fallwell -- they just don't provide for ultimate
causality. I think the central question people need to ask is "could this
explanation fit an evolutionary interpretation?" If so, then it's worth
following. If not, then it probably needs to be reconsidered.

Rob Quinlan