Jeremy Freese

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The Limits of Evolutionary Psychology and the Open-endedness of Social Possibility

  • Abstract

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Keywords: evolutionary psychology, behavioral genetics, cultural evolution, transhumanism.

Ten years ago there was much enthusiasm for evolutionary psychology as a "new science;" now much of this enthusiasm appears to have moved on to behavioral genetics. Evolutionary psychology has suffered perhaps from being oversold by enthusiasts as a predictive enterprise, while being underappreciated by critics for its contribution to reconstructing our species history. Claims about the deductive strength of evolutionary psychology have been used to make assertions about what are possible human psychologies or social arrangements. The sketchiness of our knowledge of our evolutionary past and the open-endedness of cultural evolution renders suspect any specific claims about human possibility. Cultural evolutionary processes often involve selection dynamics among macrosocial actors like states and organizations; this selection favors increased capacity to effectively discipline and harness human instincts for macrosocial ends.

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