Re: Feminist critique of sociobiology...critiqued

Gerold Firl (
5 Sep 1996 19:20:47 GMT

In article <50igjh$>, (Bryant) writes:

(an excellent review of fausto-sterling)

|> I am grateful to Susan for suggesting some books that afford a feminist
|> perspective on sociobiology and evolutionary psychology.

Two points: 1) the shoddy reasoning and fallacious logic of
fausto-sterling should not be taken as necessarily representative of
feminist thinking. It is entirely possible to be a feminist and still
be logical and objective. Anyone who tries to claim that objectivity
isn't a "womens way of knowing" is trying to sell a bill of goods.
2) I would like to hear susan respond to this critique. She originally
recommended fausto-sterling, and I am curious about just what it was
that prompted a recommendation.

|> She seems to think that a 'rape urge' in male humans would 'justify' rape
|> by taking it somehow from the realm of free will and "intentionality."

"The devil made me do it" - this has not been a valid defense in a
court of law for some time now.

|> She commits the naturalistic fallacy at least three times by asserting
|> that "biologisizing" rape will make it socially acceptable!

A very strange leap of faith.

|> She asserts, grotesquely, that sociobiologists "attempt to defuse the
|> political explosiveness of rape, thus trivializing its effect on women's
|> lives."
|> Not "run the risk of" or "might be misunderstood to argue that," mind
|> you. No! They actually "attempt to" trivialize rape! Thornhill, whose
|> two daughters are explicitely mentioned as a motivating factor in his
|> study of rape in his papers, is accused of trying to justify sexual assault!


It seems clear that writings such as these are feel-good affairs,
where the reader can comfortably relax and float downstream enveloped in a
coccoon of us-vs-them easy answers. The lack of critical thinking
involved in accepting such transparent pablum is troubling however.
The desire to identify with "the victim", and to identify the "bad
guy", must be very strong to enable readers to accept such nonsense.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf