Anthropology, Department of


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Published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences 10:74-75. Copyright © 1987 Cambridge University Press. Used by permission.

Commentary on "Précis of Vaulting Ambition: Sociobiology and the Quest for Human Nature," by Philip Kitcher, University of California, San Diego [ ]


Satisfactory tests of sociobiological theory using data on humans suffer from many problems, many of which are cogently argued by Kitcher. Other obstacles derive from the fact that cultural anthropology itself is undergoing a paradigm shift, in which people are no longer considered to be influenced by the normative environment with a high degree of predictability. Information about human behavior guided by this new set of assumptions is far more likely to yield the type of data necessary to test sociobiological ideas. Once the construct of culture is abandoned (or at least not assumed to have much power for predicting behavior), social scientists will approach the study of humans in ways that are increasingly similar to the approaches of biologists to nonhuman animals.

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