Re: Feminist critique of sociobiology...critiqued

Bruce Scott TOK (
9 Sep 1996 17:48:14 GMT

Paul Gallagher ( wrote:
: In <50k9du$> (Bruce Scott TOK ) writes:

: >So what's the problem? Why do feminists see this as their enemy? I've
: >never understood why that should be the case and would be quite willing
: >to see a serious explanation. I can't believe simple misrepresentation
: >is the only reason. I hope simple caricature is not the only reason.

: Perhaps you should consider, at least tentatively, that it's because most
: human sociobiology is empty speculation, presented without evidence and
: without a tractable research program to evaluate its hypotheses. You
: will dismiss this as "simple caricature," but try this for an exercise:
: describe any aspect of human culture, not in respect to its teleology,
: but solely in terms of the biological mechanisms that give rise to it,
: from the level of individual codons through all phases of its development.
: If that's too difficult, provide evidence that variation in any aspect of
: human culture is genetically determined. (Extra points if you can do this
: without referring to "g".) These are the sorts of questions you need to
: answer before you can even start sociobiological research, much less
: ditch traditional psychology and anthropology and philosophy and replace
: them with sociobiology.

: Some people think human sociobiologists haven't done this this adequately,
: quite apart from their personal and political dislikes.

This pretty much sums up Marvin Harris's criticism (cf: _Cultural
Materialism_). He does not however follow with pseudo-political
allegations of sociobiologists' supposedly giving excuses for the status
quo in any situation (he knows that this is not what they are doing).

But... maybe it is sloppy science, but an enemy of feminism?

If you could point me to a serious critique of any of Sarah Hrdy's work,
I should be grateful.

Mach's gut!
Bruce Scott Congratulations to Ghada Shouaa,
Max-Planck-Institut fuer Plasmaphysik Olympic heptathlon champion!