Nasty, brutish and …

January 12, 2008

Thanks to Thinking Meat for this article in the Economist. It challenges the idea that our Pliocene hunter gather past was some form of ideal society. Romanticism without evidence was a de facto theme of my recent concern about Dave Pollard and his polyamorous intentional communities. I have given up there by the way, see the comments here.

Now there is a lot we can learn from that past, but we need to be careful. It is not only the danger of idealism, but also of naive scientific determinism. I have the Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology on the table beside me and it has some great material. However an evolutionary disposition, does not make a certain type of behaviour inevitable, it just makes it more likely with the right environmental trigger. It is the old nature/nurture argument again: nature creates dispositions, but nurture provides the stimulus, and therein lies our pragmatic responsibility.

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