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What Is Evolutionary Psychology?
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David Sloan Wilson
David Sloan Wilson
is the SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University and Arne Næss Chair in Global Justice and the Environment at the University of Oslo

TVOL is pleased to feature a series of articles on the theme “What is Evolutionary Psychology?” This term started to be used in the 1980s to announce a bold new approach to the study of human and animal minds from an evolutionary perspective. It immediately became controversial for at least two reasons. First, many psychologists assumed that their perspectives were already consistent with evolutionary theory and were skeptical about the added value of a more explicit evolutionary approach. Second, psychologists who were trying to develop an explicitly evolutionary perspective did not necessarily agree on what the core tenets of evolutionary psychology should be. Popular accounts of evolutionary psychology that didn’t necessarily get the science right added an additional layer of controversy.

TVOL invited a number of leading evolutionary scientists to comment on the current state of evolutionary psychology, paying special attention to the following points:

1. How an explicit evolutionary approach differs from and adds value to other perspectives in psychology.

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2. Disagreements among those who have adopted an explicit evolutionary perspective and their resolution.

3. Misunderstandings about evolutionary psychology that are perpetuated in the popular media.

As you will see, there is still a range of opinions among the experts on the major tenets and merits of evolutionary psychology. This is to be expected, since science is inherently a process of constructive disagreement. Our series of articles on evolutionary psychology can be regarded as a front row seat to science in progress.

We will continue to update the list of essays below:

1. Be Curious, Be Darwinian. Why Evolution Provides The Deepest Explanation For Human Behavior by Rob Kurzban
2. What Is Wrong With Evolutionary Psychology? Nothing by Terry Burnham
3. Darwin In Your Brain. Four Reasons Why Evolutionary Psychology Is Controversial by Bernard Crespi
4. Evolutionary Psychology Is Neither by Jonathan Marks
5. All Psychology is Evolutionary Psychology by Michael Price
6.The Trouble with Evolutionary Psychology: A Progress Report on TVOL’s EP Theme by David Sloan Wilson
7. What Isn’t Evolutionary Psychology? by Dominic Johnson
8. “Yes, but…” Answers to Ten Common Criticisms of Evolutionary Psychology by David Schmitt
9. Beyond Genetic Evolution. A Conversation With Eva Jablonka by David Sloan Wilson
10.The Spandrels Of San Marco Revisited: An Interview With Richard C. Lewontin By David Sloan Wilson
11. The Adapted Mind Of An Evolutionary Psychologist. A Conversation With Debra Lieberman by David Sloan Wilson
12.Evolutionary Biology’s Eagle Scout: E.O. Wilson by Barry X. Kuhle
13. Selection By Consequences: Recovering Skinner’s Key Insight About Learning As An Evolutionary Process by Anthony Biglan

14. Why do Modern People have so Few Children by Lesley Newson

 

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