Gender and Politics Among Anthropologists in the Units of Selection Debate
In recent years evolutionary theorists have been engaged in a protracted and bitter disagreement concerning how natural selection affects units such as genes, individuals, kin groups, and groups. Central to this debate has been whether selective pressures affecting group success can trump the selective pressures that confer advantage at the individual level. In short, there has been a debate about the utility of group selection, with noted theorist Steven Pinker calling the concept useless for the social sciences. We surveyed 175 evolutionary anthropologists to ascertain where they stood in the debate. We found that most were receptive to group selection, especially in the case of cultural group selection. The survey also revealed that liberals and conservatives, and males and females, all displayed significant differences of opinion concerning which selective forces were important in humanity’s prehistory. We conclude by interpreting these findings in the context of recent research in political psychology.
Yaworsky, W., Horowitz, M. & Kickham, K. Gender and Politics Among Anthropologists in the Units of Selection Debate. Biol Theory 10, 145–155 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13752-014-0196-5